The best way to use chemical peels: what the science says

Personalised skin peel treatments in Wiltshire
Personalised skin peel treatments in Wiltshire

There’s no doubt that chemical peels can have an amazing effect on the appearance of skin. They can reduce the visible signs of several skin conditions, such as acne, and impart a rejuvenated look to older, tired-looking skin. But what does science have to say about their use? What do expert dermatologists say about getting the most out of chemical peels?

In this post, we look at a review of the available evidence on skin peels. It was published in 2010 in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal written for a professional audience. The paper draws on nearly 80 different credible sources and is authored by six medical doctors, four of whom are professors. In short, it’s about as authoritative as it’s possible to get.

So what do they have to say? The article divides peels into superficial, medium depth and deep peels, noting that each has its applications. Skin peels of all types work by creating a controlled amount of skin injury in order to stimulate new skin growth. More collagen is produced in response to the peel and the pigment melanin is distributed more evenly. The article comments on the popularity of peels, with more than 1 million performed in the USA in 2008.

The researchers assess the effectiveness of various compounds used in peels. For example, salicylic acid  – used in Obagi Radiance Peel – has proven effective in treating the inflammatory lesions (such as pustules and nodules) associated with acne. The research also shows it’s effective in treating moderately sun-damaged skin – improving pigmentation, skin texture and fine lines.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) – one of the key components in Obagi Blue Peel – is also evaluated. The authors note its use in treating acne scarring, some effects of sun damage and changes in pigmentation known as melasma.

Who administers the peel makes a difference

Nothing so far is very surprising: the scientific studies only confirm the observations made by hundreds of clinicians workig with skin peels. What’s more interesting is the discussion on how to get the best results. We’ve blogged before about the need for appropriate training to administer aesthetic procedures. But in this paper, we can see why specialist/medical training achieves better results. When a client undergoes a peel, the person administering it needs to:

  1. Assess the correct depth of skin peel to use. They must understand which depth of peel is appropriate for the client’s issues.
  2. Take a complete history. The professional can, for example, learn about the clients’ habits and behaviour. This allows him to look at any problems that might delay recovery – for example, if the client is likely to keep to post-treatment procedures.
  3. Identify clients at risk – for example those with keloid formation, or those exposed to the sun through their work.
  4. Check the client’s use of medication and current conditions. For example, conditions such as rosacea and psoriasis can require greater healing time.
  5. Evaluate the Fitzpatrick skin type and ethnic background – this may influence the type of peel used, or even if one is appropriate at all.
  6. Consider all of these and other relevant criteria to work out which type of peel will be the safest and most effective.
  7. Educate clients about effective aftercare, such as the appropriate use of sunscreen.

The take-home point is that for maximum effectiveness and safety, chemical peels require a variety of factors to be taken into account. We think it’s plain that this is best accomplished by someone with medical training.

Tailoring chemical peels to the individual

Following on from the above, the authors are clear that chemical peels must be chosen and modified for each individual client:

It is important to develop a peel program that is tailored to the individual needs of the patient. For example, a patient with visible photodamage who can tolerate social and work downtime may be treated with a 35% TCA peel while another patient may be better treated with a series of lighter peels to minimize downtime. In addition, patients who are treated with peels may also be interested in a variety of other treatments, such as botulinum toxin or fillers, to improve the signs of aging.

They also point out that by combining chemical peels with other treatments, individual clients’ needs can be met more completely and flexibly.

Personalised skin peel treatments in Wiltshire

The research paper we’ve reviewed shows us two main things. Firstly, chemical peels can be effective in aesthetic treatments, treating a number of skin conditions and reducing signs of ageing. Secondly, that one-size-fits-all treatments are less effective – skin peels need to take careful account of a number of individual differences. We’re proud to say that’s at the heart of our approach at the White Horse Aesthetic Clinic. With all procedures overseen by medical doctors, you can be assured of getting the most appropriate, effective and safest skin peel treatments, personalised for your needs. Get in touch for further details.