Here at Denver Laser Solutions, we often get questions about what chemical peels are and how they work. For those not familiar with peels, the word can seem rather scary. As opposed to manual exfoliation like scrubs or microdermabrasion that physically remove dead skin cells, chemical peels use a variety of ingredients to induce exfoliation and “peel” away the layers of dead skin.
There are many types of exfoliants that can be used as the active ingredients in chemical peels, but generally speaking they fall into two categories: enzymes and acids. These types of chemical exfoliators range in depth and provide various benefits for different skin conditions. Here at Denver Laser Solutions we categorize chemical peels by Level I, Level II, and TCA (trichloroacetic acid).
Enzymes exfoliate the skin by breaking down keratin, the main component in our dead skin cells. The most common sources for these enzymes are from fruits like papaya, pineapple, and pumpkin (yes, pumpkin is a fruit!). You can think of enzymes as a tiny Pac Man eating away at the surface layer of dead skin. These "gentle peels" give a superficial exfoliation, with little to no peeling after treatment. Our Level I chemical peels are mainly comprised of enzymes and are a great service to receive right before big events as they brighten the skin’s complexion and give a nice glow.
Our Level II peels use acids as the main exfoliating agent. Acids are what most people associate with chemical peels, and are employed when advanced correction is needed. Ranging from very mild to aggressive, level II peels work by loosening the bonds that keep our dead skin cells together, causing them to slough off. They can also provide a variety of additional benefits depending on the acid. For example, glycolic acid (derived from sugar or strawberries) is used for correction of fine lines and wrinkles, lactic acid (derived from milk) for lightening discoloration and salicylic acid (derived from willow bark) for clearing acne.
TCA, originating from white vinegar, is our most aggressive peel. We use it quite often for correction of moderate lines, wrinkles, and acne scarring. Working differently than level II exfoliating acids, TCA signals a healing response in the skin via protein coagulation, increasing collagen and elastin production and stimulating newer, healthier skin cells. This peel has the longest peeling time (3-5 days), but provides the most amount of correction.
Our downtown Denver skin care clients have high expectations for results when it comes to chemical peeling. For this reason, our clinic has partnered with a compounding pharmacy to custom blend various ingredients at different strengths enabling us to target specific skin conditions for excellent results.
Interested in chemical peels but unsure of where to start? Feel free to come in for a complimentary consultation and together we will develop a treatment plan for your specific needs.