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Safe Peeling

"A major issue"
By: Karen Lee Alabado, MDSafe Peeling

A word of caution: safety is a major issue in chemical peeling. A chemical peel happens by inducing some kind of burn on the upper layer of the skin—it is actually a controlled mild burn. When stronger chemicals are used, you can get a serious burn, which can land you in the burn unit of a hospital.

  • Some clinics offer peels with phenol, which can be absorbed by your body and may even cause death. So, make sure you know what is being put on your skin.
  • Only 20 percent of the skin can be peeled safely at any point in time. A full body peel can be done, but for your safety, it should not be done all at one time. Getting expert help from your trusted dermatologist will ensure that you are safe from harmful chemicals.
  • New laser treatments for photorejuvenation are available—usually involving fractionated laser systems. This enables the laser energy to be delivered just to the uppermost layer of the skin in a matrix fashion, creating small closely-set wounds, which, upon healing, will peel off and reveal smoother, softer skin.
  • The redness after a chemical peel should disappear in 1 to 2 days. Persistent redness is not a good sign, and the end result is usually pigmentation, which can be seen immediately or years after.
  • When your skin peels, the uppermost layer is removed, and this means one less layer of protection for you. Thus, it is important, after any treatment on the skin, to slather on sun block and avoid 10 am to 3 pm outdoor exposure.

Because these treatments can be risky, you must seek professional medical help. A common side effect of both chemical and laser peels is pigmentation—either brown or white. Both gradually fade over time, but medicines might be needed to help the skin go back to its original color. These technologies, in the hands of your trusted dermatologist, can do wonders to your skin. In the wrong hands, however, they can possibly lead to a cosmetic disaster!

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