Over time, the skin tends to lose its youthful glow. Harmful beauty products, environmental toxins and the natural aging process can make your skin look dull and worn. A chemical peel is designed to refresh your appearance by removing the outermost layer of skin to reveal new, healthier tissue. At his clinic in Katy, TX, Dr. John Freeman performs chemical peels for patients seeking to rejuvenate their skin and restore a smoother, more radiant complexion.
As we get older, the body’s natural processes that keep the skin firm, supple and hydrated begin to slow down. As a result, fine lines and blemishes develop and the skin often looks dull and tired, leading to a prematurely aged appearance. Chemical peels are a minimally invasive rejuvenation technique formulated to address these concerns and revitalize your complexion. These treatments vary in strength, from light peels to deeper, more aggressive ones, but they each work to remove dead and damaged cells by lifting away the surface layer of skin and exposing the healthier tissues beneath.
Chemical peels are a versatile treatment that can address a number of concerns to reveal a fresher, healthier-looking complexion. Since multiple formulations are available in varying strengths, your treatment can be tailored to your exact needs. Issues that are commonly treated with a chemical peel including the following:
While chemical peels are an effective way to rejuvenate your appearance, more advanced signs of aging such as deep wrinkles, loose skin and sagging won’t respond well to this treatment. Dermabrasion or laser resurfacing may be a viable option for these concerns, but Dr. Freeman can also deliver outstanding results with surgical techniques such as a facelift, chin augmentation, facial implants, blepharoplasty and more. During your consultation, he will examine your skin to recommend the best treatment option for achieving your goals.
Different chemical peels are used to treat different concerns. The type of peel suitable for you will depend on which issues you’d like to address, your skin type and the amount of correction needed to achieve your goals. Chemical peels typically fall into three categories determined by the strength of the solution and its active ingredients: light peels, medium peels and deep peels.
Light peels are often recommended for first-timers and those with delicate or sensitive skin. Typically used to treat more superficial concerns that occur at the skin’s surface, light peels consist of milder ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). Examples include glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. These peels lightly exfoliate the skin and only penetrate its outermost layer to provide a fresh, subtle glow. Other benefits include a brighter complexion, clearer pores and improved texture.
Often referred to as a “lunchtime procedure,” light peels are quick, easy and convenient, leaving few visible signs of treatment. Any flakiness or dryness is minimal. Incorporating a light peel into your monthly skincare routine will help maintain optimal results. This treatment can be performed on its own or as a precursor to a medium or deep peel.
Medium peels can treat superficial concerns, but also penetrate deeper to address damage in the top layers of the underlying dermis. Consisting of stronger ingredients such as Jessner’s solution, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or a higher concentration of glycolic acid, medium peels deliver a moderately intensive treatment with more dramatic results. These peels can effectively address a wide range of concerns, including sun damage, pigmentation, acne scars and wrinkles. Medium peels can also be used to smooth out a rough, uneven texture and treat some precancerous skin growths like actinic keratosis.
Unlike light peels, medium peels may cause noticeable flaking, redness and irritation, often compared to a sunburn. These side effects are normal and will subside naturally, leaving behind a smoother, healthier complexion. Medium peels can be safely repeated every four to six months to maintain optimal results.
Deep peels use potent ingredients that reach the innermost layers of the skin. Most formulations use phenol, a chemical that exfoliates so deeply that it eliminates blemishes, stimulates collagen production and remodels damaged tissues to deliver dramatic results after just one treatment. Deep peels give patients an aggressive option for improving the appearance of severe sun damage, scarring, hyperpigmentation, precancerous lesions and more advanced signs of aging. A deep peel can also improve skin laxity to a certain degree and resurface the skin for a more even tone and texture.
Deep peels aren’t suitable for all patients and require more downtime than light or medium peels. Sedation and a topical anesthetic are typically used to ensure a comfortable experience, and a pre-treatment regimen may be prescribed beforehand. The recovery process can last several weeks, with side effects that include throbbing, swelling, oozing, redness, flaking and scabbing. When the final results emerge, the skin will look smoother, brighter and more youthful than ever. Only one treatment is needed to achieve dramatic improvements in the skin’s appearance.
Dr. Freeman most often recommends a Jessner’s/30% TCA combination peel for patients who want to reveal a brighter, more youthful-looking complexion. Chemical peels at this level use a non-toxic agent called trichloroacetic acid (TCA) combined with Jessner’s solution to gently penetrate the skin in a symbiotic fashion and remove dead and damaged cells. This peel is typically performed to address lines and wrinkles, uneven skin pigment, scars, blemishes, and even dark circles under the eyes. Whatever your concerns, this chemical peel can be customized to your needs by adjusting the amount of TCA in the solution. Dr. Freeman will determine the right concentration for you after examining your skin during an initial consultation.
While light peels are often superficial and deeper peels more aggressive, TCA chemical peels provide an ideal balance between skin penetration, patient comfort, and quality of results. That’s why Dr. Freeman typically recommends this peel for those looking to rejuvenate their appearance. Beyond enhancing your overall appearance, medium-strength TCA peels can also help to:
If you have significant skin damage or signs of aging to address, a stronger peel might be more suitable, while those with minor imperfections may benefit from a lighter peel. During your consultation, Dr. Freeman will review the types of chemical peels we offer and help you decide which type is right for you.
The chemical peel procedure will vary for each patient, depending on their skin type and needs. In your consultation, Dr. Freeman will carefully analyze your skin and consider your concerns to design a treatment plan tailored to your cosmetic goals. Before the peel is applied, your face will be cleansed thoroughly to remove any dirt or oil, allowing the solution to penetrate more evenly. The peeling solution is then applied for a set time, during which patients usually experience a slight burning or stinging sensation that lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. Light peels provide a fairly comfortable treatment, but since medium and deep peels target the layer underneath the skin surface, a local anesthetic or light sedation may be used to ensure your comfort throughout the process.
Your recovery will differ depending on which type of peel was used during your treatment. Lighter peels typically involve little to no downtime, while the skin takes some time to heal after a medium or deep peel. Common side effects include redness, swelling, discomfort, flaking and increased sensitivity. Deeper peels may also cause some oozing and scabbing.
TCA peels require some downtime, but not as much as a deep phenol peel. As your skin heals, you may experience some mild swelling and discomfort. You will also notice a light crust forming over the surface of your skin, which will gradually flake off within one week. For this reason, medium peels generally require a downtime period of five to seven days. Dr. Freeman will walk you through all the aftercare requirements to ensure you are fully aware of how to care for your skin and achieve optimal results.
Once your new skin emerges, it may initially appear light pink or red. However, as your skin continues to heal, you will notice a dramatic improvement in the tone and texture of your face. The result will be a smoother, healthier and more radiant complexion.
During a chemical peel, you may feel a burning or stinging sensation that lasts for several minutes. This effect intensifies with stronger formulations. Most patients find light peels tolerable, while sedation and a topical anesthetic may be used during a medium or deep peel to ensure your comfort.
Chemical peels come in a variety of strengths and concentrations of acid. Light peels use mild acids and are more superficial, making them more suitable for those with minor skin imperfections or those seeking a minimally invasive way to refresh their skin. Medium peels are more effective for those with mild to moderate skin concerns, including sun damage, fine lines and facial scarring. Since medium peels penetrate the skin more deeply, they can produce more dramatic and satisfying results.
Deep chemical peels are the most aggressive option of the three. These peels use phenol to repair severely sun-damaged skin and eliminate deep wrinkles and scars. Though the results are dramatic, deep peels require a longer downtime period and can irritate some skin types. Before considering a chemical peel, it is crucial to check with a trained and experienced specialist to ensure you choose the treatment that is safe and most suitable for you.
Chemical peels can be combined with other treatments to enhance and prolong your results. Common choices include microneedling and laser resurfacing, but it might be best to space these treatments apart. Chemical peels can also be used after a facelift or other surgical procedure to further rejuvenate your appearance and help you achieve your goals. If you’re interested in combining your chemical peel with other treatments, or have concerns that require a more targeted approach, Dr. Freeman can help you decide which skincare solutions are right for you and recommend the right combination of procedures.
The frequency and number of treatments you’ll need will depend on which type of peel is used and the degree of correction needed to achieve your goals. Light peels usually require ongoing maintenance to keep your skin looking fresh and youthful, while medium TCA peels can be repeated every four to six months. Deep phenol peels are typically only performed once. Most people start with a series of treatments then schedule regular touch-ups to maintain and prolong their results.
Light and medium peels are typically safe for all skin tones and types, but stronger peels may lead to discoloration in those with brown or olive hues. During your consultation, Dr. Freeman will tell you which formulas are safe for your skin type.