What are chemical peels?

Chemical peels are skincare treatments in which chemical solutions are directly applied to the skin. These skin-safe solutions cause the skin to “blister” and eventually peel off. As the old skin peels off, the new skin is smoother and less wrinkled.* There are three common variations of peels, classified as:

  • Superficial
  • Medium
  • Deep

These classifications refer to the depth of the skin penetration caused by the exfoliating agent. Superficial peels treat the outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and mildly stimulate collagen formation in the uppermost part of the dermis.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are two commonly used peeling agents. They provide significant benefits by helping to smooth rough, dry skin, and improving the texture and tone of sun-damaged skin.

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What kind of chemical peels can I schedule?

DermPhysicians of New England provide peels with glycolic acid for anti-aging and acne, salicylic acid for acne, and a combination of lactic acid and other acids for pigmentation and anti-aging. Glycolic acid is the ultimate exfoliator. It effectively removes the outermost layer of dead cells from the complexion, revealing fresher, brighter skin.* Salicylic acid is a strong comedolytic, which helps to unclog pores. It can also decrease the amount of oil on the skin. Regular salicylic acid peels can help improve inflammatory acne and comedonal acne.* Lactic acid is a bit milder than glycolic acid, and it is a great option for people with sensitive skin.

Peels can be used to treat a number of skin conditions, but they are most often used to treat the effects of sun damage. They also diminish the appearance of blotchy skin by reducing the color contrast of surrounding skin.* Deep wrinkles are less responsive and require additional treatments. Frequently a series of medium peels is required to achieve the desired result.

Before your treatment, it’s important to take anti-viral medicine if you have a tendency for cold sores. It’s also extremely important to protect your treated skin from sun exposure by using a transparent zinc oxide sun-blocker before going outdoors.

To varying degrees, peels cause remodeling of the collagen in the dermis and an increase in the elastic fibers. Collagen and elastin (an elastic fiber) are the main structural proteins in the dermis. With aging, the dermal collagen and elastin content decreases as the skin becomes thinner. This is accelerated by sun exposure and is the major factor associated with wrinkling.

There is some recovery and downtime with peels. It is typically 3-5 days, but it’s time well spent since milder peels simply cannot deliver the same results.

What can I expect from the results?

Results of an AHA peel are temporary and periodic treatments are recommended to maintain your results.

AHAs are often referred to as fruit acids. They include glycolic acid (from sugar cane), lactic acid (from sour milk), citric acid (from citrus fruits) and tartaric acid (from fermented grapes). Glycolic acid is most frequently used for superficial peels and in cosmetic formulations. When used as a peel, the pH or measure of acidity is low (more acidic) and thus more irritating.

Treatment recovery is rapid, usually consisting of minor flaking and mild redness for several days. A series of 4-6 treatments is generally required to obtain the best results.*

Schedule a chemical peel today

For superficial and medium chemical peels, schedule an appointment at our office in Burlington, Massachusetts. Under the watchful eyes of our board-certified dermatologists, your aesthetician will assess your skin and recommend the optimal peel for you. To get started, fill out the form below to request an appointment or give us a call at (781) 272-7022.


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* Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.

Call us at (781) 272-7022 or request below.

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(781) 272-7022