OVERVIEW and WHAT TO EXPECT
Light chemical peels like AHA and glycolic acid peels are usually done in medical offices. There is minimal discomfort so usually no anesthetic is given because the patient feels only a slight stinging when the solution is applied. No pain killer is needed.
Medium peels such as trichloroacetic acid (TCA) are also performed in the doctor’s office or in an ambulatory surgery center as an outpatient procedure and can cause more discomfort. Frequently, the combination of a tranquilizer such as diazepam and an oral analgesic is administered. TCA peels often do not require anesthesia even if the solution itself has - at the contrary of phenol - no numbing effect on the skin. The patient usually feels a warm or burning sensation.
Phenol was historically a deep chemical peel. Early phenol peel solutions were very painful and most practitioners would perform it under either general anesthesia, administered by an MD-anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist. Today it is more correctly referred to as a croton oil peel, since that has proven to be the active ingredient responsible for most of its effects. Recent formulations allow more variation in the depth of treatment, and allow its use under sedation either orally or intravenously, usually in conjunction with local anesthetic injections.
Many people report a lovely fresh-looking face following a peel. The tone and surface of the skin can be significantly improved, erasing impurities and minimising areas of discolouration. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles may also be reduced. The fresh skin revealed after a peel should be more receptive to good skincare products which are recommended to enhance and prolong the positive effects of the peel. Peels are usually relatively inexpensive treatments.
Skin sensitivity varies from person to person, hence some people will experience an uncomfortable feeling of sensitivity and tightness in the face following a peel.