Are Chemical Peels Good for Removal of Stretch Marks?
Chemical peels, also known as chemexfoliation or derma-peeling, are a body treatment technique used to improve and smooth the texture of the skin using a chemical solution to achieve a controlled burn in order to remove the top layers of skin.
Chemical peels are often used to remove fine lines, stretch marks, small scars, discolorations such as tattoos, semi-permanent makeup, freckles or liver spots, sun damaged skin, and spots of precancerous keratosis which are removable at the top layers of skin (the epidermis).
Chemical peels generally are not helpful for stretch marks.
The striae which respond are usually the "fresh" ones that are red or recently formed. In these instances the goal is diminshing the redness.
The real problem is the dermis is destroyed, and unless the regeneration of skin is activated (in a way similar to a newt can regenerate its amputated tail), we are not able to significantly repair or improve stretch marks.
Peels may be applied to the entire face or to isolated areas, such as the upper lip. Peels can be applied to most areas of the body, using caution on thinner skin areas such as around the eyes. Various peel solutions are used by physicians to remove warts, moles, and calluses. The type and concentration of acid controls the depth of the burn used to achieve light, medium, and deep peels.
The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. Some types of chemical peels can be purchased and administered without a medical license, however it is advised you seek professional help from a plastic surgeon or dermatologist on a specific type of chemical peel before a procedure is performed.
A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor's office or in a surgery center as an outpatient procedure.
The skin is thoroughly cleansed with an agent that removes excess oils and the eyes and hair are protected. One or more chemical solutions, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid or carbolic acid (phenol), are applied to small areas on the skin. These applications produce a controlled wound, enabling new, regenerated skin to appear.
During the procedure, most people experience a warm to somewhat hot sensation that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation. Cool compresses may be applied to help alleviate this stinging. A deeper peel may require pain medication during or after the procedure.
What To Expect After the Chemical Peel
Depending upon the type of chemical peel, a reaction similar to sunburn occurs following the procedure. Peeling usually involves redness, followed by scaling that ends within three to seven days. Mild peels may be repeated at one to four-week intervals until the desired clinical effect is achieved.
Medium-depth and deep peeling may result in swelling, as well as the presence of water blisters that may break, crust, turn brown and peel off over a period of seven to 14 days. Medium-depth peels may be repeated in six to twelve months, if necessary.
You will work with your dermatologist to determine the depth of your peel. This joint decision can vary, depending upon the condition of your skin and the objectives of treatment.
After treatment, some peels may require bandages to be placed on part or all of the skin that is treated. Bandages are usually removed in several days and may improve the effectiveness of the treatment.
It is important to avoid over-exposure to the sun after a chemical peel since the new skin is fragile and more susceptible to complications. The dermatologic surgeon will prescribe the proper follow-up care to reduce the tendency to develop abnormal skin color after peeling.
There are three types of chemical peels.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid Peels
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) are naturally occurring organic carboxylic acids such as glycolic acid, a natural constituent of sugar cane juice and lactic acid, found in sour milk and tomato juice. This is the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light peels for treatment of fine wrinkles, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Alpha hydroxy acids can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regimen to improve the skin's texture.
AHA peels are used to:
* reduce fine wrinkling
* treat areas of dryness
* reduce uneven pigmentation
* aid in the control of acne
* smooth rough dry skin
* improve the texture of sun-damaged skin
AHA peels may:
* cause stinging
* cause skin redness
* cause mild skin irritation
* cause dryness
* take multiple treatments for desired results
Trichloroacetic Acid Peels
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is used as an intermediate to deep peeling agent in concentrations ranging from 20-50%. Depth of penetration is increased as concentration increases, with 50% TCA penetrating into the reticular dermis. Concentrations higher than 35% are not recommended because of the high risk of scarring.
Trichloroacetic acid peels:
* are referred for darker-skinned patients over Phenol
* smooth out fine surface wrinkles
* remove superficial blemishes
* correct skin pigment problems
Trichloroacetic acid peels may:
* require pre-treatment with Retin-A or AHA creams
* require repeat treatment to maintain results
* require the use of sunblock for several months (this is a must)
* take several days to healing depending on the peel depth
Phenol is the strongest of the chemical solutions and produces a deep skin peel. Recent studies suggest that phenol is most likely only the carrier for another active component in the solution, namely croton oil. In fact, phenol alone produces only a light peel which is ineffective for restructuring the deeper dermal structures (such as wrinkles). The term Phenol/Croton oil peel has been proposed as a more accurate descriptor, but the established terminology phenol peel continues to be the dominant usage, as the role of croton oil in the mix is not as widely understood.
Effects of a phenol chemical peel are long lasting, and in some cases are still readily apparent up to 20 years following the procedure. Improvements in the patient's skin can be quite dramatic. A single treatment usually achieves the desired result.
Phenol peels are used to:
* correct blotches caused by sun exposure or aging
* smooth out coarse deep wrinkles
* remove precancerous growths
Phenol peels may:
* pose a risk for patients with heart problems
* permanently remove facial freckles
* cause permanent skin lightening by reducing the ability to produce pigment
* take several months to heal
* require increased protection from the sun for life
What Are the Possible Complications of Chemical Peels?
In certain skin types, there is a risk of developing a temporary or permanent color change in the skin. Taking birth control pills, subsequent pregnancy or family history of brownish discoloration on the face may increase the possibility of developing abnormal pigmentation.
Although low, there is a risk of scarring in certain areas of the face, and certain individuals may be more prone to scarring. If scarring does occur, it can usually be treated by professionals with good results.
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