Skin discolouration is a problem of the aesthetic nature which many people are doomed to deal with. The best way to get rid of the skin imperfections is offered by chemical peels. Exfoliating skin epidermal layer due to chemical solutions of the right concentration is recognized as a very popular treatment that sorts out some common skin blemishes – not only discolourations but also fine lines, scars and stretch marks. How does chemical peel work? Are there any contraindications to the procedure? Does chemical peel trigger any side effects? Which chemical peel aims at fighting back discolourations? How does the procedure of removing discolorations look like? And finally, what causes discolourations?
What causes discolourations?
Small freckles, which get bigger and spread by creating irregular brown marks on skin, are a symptom of hyperpigmentation described as melanin production disorder and its uneven distribution in skin.
Basically, skin spots might be the aftermath of UV radiation influence or hormonal disorders (pregnancy, contraception pills, hormonal therapy). Another cause of discolourations can be connected with application of cosmetics that encourage skin photosensitivity such as beauty products containing AHA/BHA acids, retinoid, alcohol and essential oils. Exposing skin to the substances without taking care of proper sun protection is a fast track to discolourations. Also, there are some kinds of medications, e.g. antibiotics, that make skin more reactive to UV or cause photosensitivity.
How does a chemical peeling work?
The main task of chemical peel is dead epidermal cells exfoliation. Owing to this, skin becomes smoother and more radiant, its tone gets evened and skin pores shrinked.
Still, the action delivered by chemical peels doesn’t limit itself to exfoliation only. In fact, exfoliation of the superficial layers of dermis launches a definitely more important process. Namely, the substances contained in an exfoliating preparation stimulate the process of multiplication and division of new cells in lower skin layers. As a consequence, the old cells are replaced with new ones, and this is how skin regenerates itself. The very same process occurs during mechanical wound healing up – broken skin rebuilds all tissue elements from the beginning. Since discolourations tend to develop in deeper layers of dermis, removing them due to home remedies and home scrubs that deliver only superficial effect is completely ineffective.
Peels to deal with discolourations
Undoubtedly, many chemical peels are able to remove discolourations completely. Although each of them exfoliates epidermis in a different way, some of them affect only the superficial layer, others deal with the middle layers and the rest reach the deepest skin layers – it all depends on on the type of acid, its concentration and the depth of the exfoliation. It’s a doctor who should make a decision about the type of peel used by taking into consideration the needs of a patient, their skin type and the size of discolourations.
Types of the common peels dealing with discolourations:
- Yellow Peel – combination of glycolic, salicylic and retinoic acid as well as resorcinol and vitamin C. It highlights skin and stimulates collagen and elastin production.
- Glycolic Acid Peel 20, 35, 50 or 70 percent – the higher the concentration of the acid, the stronger its action is. Peel 50 and 70 percent exfoliates all epidermal layers.
- Mandelic Acid Peel – this procedure is carried out using acid obtained from almonds, which belongs to alpha hydroxy acid group displaying germicidal properties. Once the treatment is over, the effect of exfoliated skin is barely visible. Mandelic acid peel can be applied even to sensitive skin. What’s important, it doesn’t increase skin photosensitivity.
- Pyruvic Acid Peel – the acid used for the procedure belongs to alpha-keto acid group. Depending on the concentration, the acid might affect either superficial skin layers or reach deeper. If higher concentrations used, the effect might resemble use of aggressive exfoliators.
- Kojic Acid Peel – this is an acid that is responsible for depigmenting effect and is able to highlight discolourations considerably.
- TCA Acid Peel – in most cases it’s combined with glycolic acid. It offers medium skin exfoliation.
- Salicylic Acid Peel – uses the acid belonging to beta hydroxy acid group. It’s recommended to treat co-occurring discolouration and acne because silicic acids is able to penetrate to hair follicles which considerably facilitates curing the very blemishes.
- Ferulac Peel Acid – bases its action on ferulic acid, florentine and fruit acids. It’s called nanopeel because the active substances are locked in liposomes. It delays skin ageing processes and reduces discolourations. Basically, it improves skin looks within a few days.
How does the discolouration removal procedure look like?
Before the treatment begins, a doctor presents various possible outcomes and interviews the patient to learn the effects they want to achieve. Depending on the discolouration, it may appear that both superficial chemical peels applied at intervals as well as one intensive treatment might serve the purpose equally well. During the appointment, the doctor gives recommendations to the patient:
- no suntanning 3 weeks prior to the treatment;
- no use of products containing retinoids, skin irritating preparations and dermabrasion 1 week prior to the treatment;
- no shaving a day before the treatment (for men).
The procedure of removing discolourations doesn’t take long, no more than 30 minutes. It consists in applying a special mask dampen with either a selected lightening-and-exfoliating solution or a special preparation. Then, the patient has to apply the preparation on her/his owne for at least 6 weeks.
The patient isn’t allowed to apply makeup right after the procedure – at least 24 hours must pass by before doing it. Skin will be gradually healing up itself for a few following days, yet the process might not be clear to notice – this depends on the type of peel applied and its concentration. For that reason, the patient shouldn’t sunbathe for at least a month or rip off the flaking epidermis.
Chemical Peel – Contraindications
Visible discolourations aren’t the direct indications for the procedure. However, there are numerous contraindications to the chemical peel treatment such as:
- connective tissue inflammations;
- active skin infections, e.g. cold sore;
- skin irritations and damages including erosions, abrasions, sunburn and neurotic excoriation;
- pregnancy and lactation;
- keloid-prone skin;
- retinoid treatment (chemical peel should be applied no sooner than 6 months after the retinoid treatment is over);
- epilation, electrolysis and phototherapy (no sooner than 4 weeks since the treatment);
- skin allergies;
- kriotherapy (no sooner than 6 months since the treatment);
- surgery of face skin area (no sooner than 2 months since the procedure);
- collagenosis, pemphigus and other autoimmune diseases.
Chemical Peel – Side effects
Chemical peel treatment might trigger side effects in the form of skin discolourations which in fact are more widespread than the ones which were supposed to be removed. Moreover, it’s frequent for rosacea to occur. There is also a risk of bacterial infection of skin, activation of herpesvirus and scarring.