Peeling is a medical procedure done by plastic surgeons in order to create younger-looking skin and treat wrinkles, scars, acne, sun damage, skin lesions and pigment changes.

Peeling involves destroying the superficial layers of your skin which will be replaced by new skin cells, creating new skin. Peeling is not an alternative to a facelift, but sometimes it’s a complementary procedure to a facelift.

Peeling can be done in one of three ways:

  • With a CO2 Laser
  • Mechanical peeling
  • Chemical peeling

CO2 Laser Peeling
Peeling done with a CO2 laser has become the most popular method of peeling in recent years. Use of the mechanical peeling method has dwindled in recent years.

The CO2 laser is a light ray in the infrared zone of the spectrum. These rays are not harmful to the other tissues but it should be used only when all precautions are taken. The advantage of this laser is the control of the infiltration depth without the side effects. This procedure is performed in the operating under general or local anesthesia.

Mechanical Peeling
Mechanical peeling can treat unsmooth skin, and fix any areas with bumps, an unwelcome result of acne or chicken pox. This type of peeling is done with the help of an electronic device, equipped with a fast-moving brush. Following the peeling action, the top layer of skin is removed and a scab is formed. The skin heals under the scab, and the healing process takes about 10 days.

This process is done under general or local anesthesia. The peeling is only done after proper preparation. Sometimes, there is a need for repetition of the peeling in order to get to the desired result. Afterwards, antibiotic cream is administered and sometimes the face is bandaged up with a silicone bandage for a number of days.

Superficial scars can be fixed. However, scars that are deeper, will most probably never be smooth, but there will be a noticeable improvement in their prominence.

After mechanical peeling, sun exposure should be limited for a number of months, and patients should take care to use special sunblock creams.

Chemical Peeling
Chemical peeling is a technique where a controlled second degree burn is created on the skin. Chemical peeling is done by administering substances on the face, which causes the top layers of the skin to peel off. These layers will be replaced with new skin cells during the healing process, creating new, fresh skin. This method is especially effective in removing skin lesions from the face and small wrinkles around the mouth.

Active Ingredients:

  • Phenol (mostly used for deeper infiltration)
  • TCA Solution (mostly for medium depth peeling)
  • Glycolic Acid (mostly for shallow peeling)

The use of phenol must be done with the utmost care, as this substance is absorbed into the skin and if too much is absorbed, it can cause heart rate problems. The substance will be released through the kidneys, making it imperative that the patient has no previous kidney problems.

Chemical Peeling is done without any anesthesia, since the substance itself acts as a sedation agent. After treatment, patients must use antibiotic cream or a special mask.

Patients must be given pills against Herpes for all types of peeling.

The face tends to swell after peeling treatments, including the eyelids. A scab-like mask develops until new skin grows (7-10 days). Compressor cream can ease the swelling and burning sensations. The burning sensation can be controlled by pain reliever medication. The new skin will also take some time until it reaches the desired shade. For the first several weeks post treatment, sun exposure should be avoided and sunscreen should be applied liberally.

Possible Complications

  • Changes in pigment, especially among dark-skinned patients: this can be reduced by Retin-A treatment.
  • Redness: redness may be prominent for several months.
  • Scarring: peeling creates a second degree burn, so sometimes a third degree burn may occur as a result. This could cause scarring.