Chemical peels are widely considered to be a great way to address various skin concerns including signs of aging, post-acne scars and sun damage. Patients suffering from mild scars and wrinkles often turn to chemical peels too. One of the most effective uses of chemical peels, however, is the treatment of discoloration, hyperpigmentation and melasma.
Discoloration or hyperpigmentation of the skin can appear for a variety of reasons, including exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes as well as old scaring. Many people also suffer from melasma, a common problem causing grey or brown toned discolored patches to appear on the face, most typically on the bridge of the nose, forehead and chin as well as the upper lip resulting in a “moustached” look. All skin discolorations are due to increased levels of melanin in the skin. There are some preventative measures that one can take to avoid skin discoloration – such as staying away from the sun as much as possible and wearing a high SPF sunscreen – but in a large number of cases it is impossible to avoid hyperpigmentation all together.
Chemical peels are an incredibly effective and safe way to treat discoloration on the face and other parts of the body, such as hands and legs where hyperpigmentation appears more commonly. Chemical peels range from mild superficial peels that only affect the surface layer of the skin to more intense deep peels that work on deeper levels of the skin delivering a more drastic result. Mild peels typically involve the use of AHA chemicals of salicylic acid and are left on the skin for a short period of time to remove the top layer of the skin and in turn reveal smoother, more youthful looking skin underneath. Medium peels use the same principal but are left on the skin for a longer time and use solutions with higher concentration of acid to penetrate the skin further into the upper layer of the dermis. Deep peels make use of phenol, allowing them to address more severe skin concerns as they reach the deeper layers of the skin. Doctors will advise on which chemical peel to use depending on the severity of the discoloration as well as other factors.
Chemical peels are often performed by dermatologists and the procedure can take as little as 30 minutes. Deeper peels are performed under general anesthesia and are often performed by surgeons who treat one small area at a time applying bandages following the procedure. Healing times can vary but usually the skin appears red and swollen for 48 hours following the procedure, while the new, smoother skin will appear in 7 – 14 days. Usually a few sessions of milder peels are needed to achieve the final result while a deeper peel can only be performed once. Chemical peels are a great answer to hyperpigmentation and melasma sufferers and can achieve great results revealing a brighter and more even complexion.