How safe is a chemical peel? What are the side effects?

Chemical peel is a technique of controlled exfoliation using a solution that causes the dead skin to exfoliate peel off, thereby improving and smoothening the texture of the skin.

Done in the right hands, it can achieve the following beneficial effects:

  1. Removes dull and dead skin to bring brightness
  2. Evens out patchy skin tone
  3. Smoothens skin texture
  4. Unclogs pores, reduces oiliness and resolves/prevents occurrence of pimples
  5. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles by promoting collagen production
  6. Some peels (like lactic acid) also hydrate the skin
  7. Some peels (like salicylic acid) are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce the redness that appears after acne

The limiting factor is that it must be performed by the trained hands of a qualified dermatologist. This is because, in order to perform a peel, several factors in chemical peel are taken into consideration:

  • One’s skin type is taken into account
  • The nature and severity of skin concern will determine the type of peel, strength of peel, duration of application of the peel, number of sittings and gap between 2 sittings
  • One’s basic medical history is checked for any contraindication
  • Often, your dermatologist may ask you to ‘prime’ your skin by using a cream for a few weeks prior to the peel in order to ‘prepare’ the skin for best results
  • After getting a peel done, you may be asked to follow certain skincare steps over the next few days, including a bland moisturizer, sun-protection measures and avoidance of harsher skincare products
  • Chemical peels may be used as a stand alone treatment, in combination with other treatments or even alternatively with other procedures

When performed by a qualified dermatologist, the chemical peel procedure is fairly safe with minimal downtime and one may resume work from the next day as along as you follow the post-care instructions.

Side effects like transient erythema are common. Effects like hyper pigmentation or a superficial burn localized to the site of the incorrect peel application are completely avoidable if done by trained hands of a dermatologist & by following the post care instructions well.

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