By Maryann Mikhail, MD
A Chemical Peel is a dermatologic procedure in which a solution is applied to the skin to cause exfoliation and eventual peeling. As layers of old skin peel away, new skin that is brighter, smoother and more even comes to the surface. Chemical peels can be used for a variety of indications including sun spots, fine lines, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, melasma and superficial scarring. They are also perfect for improving the appearance of skin prior to important events, like photo-shoots, parties and weddings.
The Vitalize and Rejuvenize by SkinMedica are highly effective peels that are safe in all skin types. Both peels are done in 3 steps: 1) degreasing to remove excess dirt and oil, 2) a salicylic acid based peeling mixture, and 3) retinol. Mild tingling is expected during the second step and can last a few minutes. By the time the third step is applied, skin mostly feels calm. The retinol leaves a yellowish tint that can last a few hours. As peels that self neutralize, Vitalize and Rejuvenize shut off on their own, ensuring a consistent depth of activity. Typically, peeling occurs 1-2 days later and can last for an average of 3-5 days. The degree of peeling can vary from light flaking to peeling in sheets depending on an individual’s skin type and condition. Regardless of the amount of peeling, the skin will slough at an accelerated rate leading to visible improvements in tone and texture.
To prepare for a peel, avoid the following for the week prior: salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinols, waxing, laser treatments, and excess sun exposure. Plan to avoid exercise until peeling is completed. After care includes gentle cleansing and moisturizer. Post peel skin may be more sensitive for a few weeks, so sunscreen is essential.
If the goal is a brighter complexion for a big event, a chemical peel should ideally be done 1 month before. For treatment of sun damage, photo aging, hyperpigmentation and scarring, a series of peels will be necessary for best results. Since Rejuvenize is considerably stronger, it is recommended that patients establish tolerability with a Vitalize peel first.