What’s the Difference Between a Light, Medium, and Deep Chemical Peel?

Beverly Hills chemical peel

Chemical peels can improve skin conditions and minimize signs of aging. These versatile treatments come in varying strengths, depending on your cosmetic concern. Enhance® Medical Center offers light, medium, and deep chemical peels. Each degree of peel provides unique benefits, and Charles S. Lee, MD, can recommend the type of chemical peel that will reach your skincare goals. 

What Is a Chemical Peel? 

Chemical peels are used to exfoliate the skin tissues and stimulate the skin’s healing response. The bonds between the outermost skin layer (epidermis) and deeper skin tissues are broken down using various acids. The surface skin peels away, revealing new skin cells for a healthier and brighter complexion. 

Benefits of Light Chemical Peels 

A light chemical peel involves little to no downtime for healing. Mild acids, such as alpha hydroxyl or beta hydroxyl, lightly exfoliate the epidermis to improve hyperpigmentation, acne, dry skin, and superficial wrinkles. Light chemical peel treatments start with cleansing the face and brushing the acid solution onto the skin, and the chemical is left on for several minutes before it’s washed off and neutralized. Patients may feel mild stinging during a light chemical peel. Many people have regular light chemical peels for brighter skin. 

Benefits of Medium Chemical Peels

Medium chemical peels penetrate the deeper skin tissues, extending through the epidermis to the dermis (the upper middle layer of the skin). These treatments involve a more potent chemical solution, such as glycolic acid, Jessner’s solution, or trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and work well for moderate to severe wrinkles, acne scarring, and uneven skin color. Medium peels promote collagen production and improve skin elasticity but require a few days of recovery.

Treatment for a medium chemical peel involves face cleansing and brushing the chemical solution on the skin. Your skin may take on a grey or white color, and you may feel a burning or stinging sensation as the acid penetrates the skin. The acid is neutralized with a cool saline compress, and the face begins to peel within 48 hours and may flake away for a week. Redness or a brownish hue is normal during recovery after a medium chemical peel, and patients should keep the skin moisturized until healed fully.

Benefits of Deep Chemical Peels

Deep chemical peels penetrate the epidermis and dermis with phenol chemicals. These intensive treatments involve a longer recovery but provide dramatic results for facial scarring, deep wrinkles, blotchy skin, sun damage, and pre-cancerous growths. A deep peel may require pre-treatment with retinoic acid gel or cream to help prepare the skin’s surface layer and allow the chemical to penetrate the deeper skin tissues.

A deep chemical peel may involve a local anesthetic to ease discomfort. The face is cleansed, and phenol is brushed onto the face at specific intervals. Water neutralizes the acid solution, and a thick ointment is applied to protect the skin and prevent dryness. Patients may need up to two weeks off work as the face crusts and peels. Results from a deep chemical peel may last up to 10 years.

Schedule a consultation to learn more about what chemical peels can do for your skin concern. Contact Enhance® Medical Center in Beverly Hills, California, at (310) 271-5954 or fill out our online contact form.

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