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What are the different types of chemical peels?

Chemical peels can be divided into light, medium and deep peels.

Light chemical peels affect only the most superficial layer of skin and can be used on all skin types. A mild acid such as glycolic acid is most often used. Combinations of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids such as lactic acid, salicylic and maleic acid can also be used. These peels can brighten complexions and help those with dryness, acne, fine wrinkling or uneven pigmentation. Repeat treatment will continue the refreshing effect of these peels.

Medium chemical peels penetrate the superficial epidermis layer through to the upper part of the deeper layer underneath, the dermis. Since they reache deeper into the skin, medium peels can treat deeper wrinkles as well as acne scars and even pigmentation. Trichloroacetic acid is a commonly used agent for this depth peel, sometimes used in combination with a lighter peel such as glycolic acid.

Deep chemical peels penetrate from the epidermis through the dermis, causing a second-degree burn of the skin. These may be used to improve deeper wrinkles, treat pre-cancerous growths and blotchy skin color. Phenol is the chemical used for these treatments. The deeper penetration of these peels carries the risk of hypopigmentation where the skin pigment does not regenerate leaving lighter colored areas. For this reason, deep peels should not be used in dark colored individuals and even lighter-skinned people can experience skin bleaching. Phenol peels should not be repeated.