How Much Skin Peeling Will I Get After My Chemical Peel?
A common question from clients is “How much skin peeling will I get?”. Particular if new to skin peeling treatments.
The answer is dependant on a number of factors so can vary greatly. Some clients barely peel at all, whereas others get quite a considerable amount of skin peeling.
The main factors include; the strength of the treatment; the clients individual skin type and overall condition of the skin.
It is an important question to consider before undergoing any chemical peel procedure. Depending on commitments, you may not want to be seen with dryness or micro-flaking. For example, having a skin peeling treatment 2 days prior to a wedding is not advisable! On the other hand, some clients want the hardcore approach and feel discouraged unless they see lots of peeling.
Of course, this is always assessed and discussed during consultation. However, my ethos and approach will always attempt to discourage anything too aggressive. Instead working more progressively, for a ‘healthy’ rate of peeling without traumatising the skin.
Degrees Of Peeling
Following a chemical peel the degree or level of peeling can range from ‘non-peeling’ to ‘micro-flaking’ and ‘skin-sheathing’, to complete ‘epidermolysis’ (medical-only peels) and full ablative peeling (medical-only peels).
The ‘Non-Peeling’ is where there are no visible signs of skin peeling at all. Where the client experiences no more than some post-treatment dryness for a few days following treatment. Often clients can be disheartened that the chemical peel didn’t work. However this is not the case. If you consider we lose between 30,000 and 40,000 skin cells every hour, which is invisible to the naked eye. A mild peel increases this rate of renewal, but not enough to cause obvious flakes of skin. This is usually achieved with a very superficial peel or resurfacing treatment.
‘Micro-Flaking’ in comparison is where the rate of renewal is increased so small clumps of cells are shed together. The fact groups of cells are shedding together makes them visible, appearing like ‘dandruff’ on the skin. This is usually achieved with a superficial peel (see image above).
Mild ‘skin-sheathing’ to moderate ‘skin-shedding’ is where the rate of renewal has been increased even greater. This time so that larger patches of cells are being shed. This is usually achieved with a moderate to medium-depth peel (see image below following a Blueberry Jessner Peel).
Medical Only Peels
Complete ‘epidermolysis’ is where the peel has resulted in the complete destruction of epidermal tissue. This occurs following visible compact frosting of the skin. This tends to only happen with medical-only grade peels such as TCA peels.
Fully ‘ablative’ peels wound the skin down to the dermal reticular layer. Resulting in complete removal of the epidermis and regeneration of dermal tissue. Again, this is a medical-only treatment such as Phenol peel, which carries high risk and a long downtime / recovery time.
Factors Affecting The Amount Of Skin Peeling
As mentioned, the strength of the peel is a big factor that impacts whether you’ll get a micro-flaking or skin-shedding. It goes without saying that the deeper within the skin the treatment penetrates, the more likely you are to get more shedding.
However it’s not the only factor. The health of the skin barrier function prior to treatment is also a key factor. If the skin is dry (lacking lipids) or is slightly compromised prior to treatment, then peel penetration will be enhanced and the amount of peeling increased.
At the opposite end, if the skin is quite oily then the degree of peeling may be reduced. If the peel is Alpha Hydroxy Acid based for example, then most AHA’s are water-soluble. In order for the peel agent to get into the skin it require thorough degreasing prior to application.
My Approach To Chemical Peels
I use a range of Metabolic Peels in my treatments and don’t believe in overly aggressive treatment. Incorporating purified Chirally Correct acids, which are kinder on the skin. Alongside micro-encapsulated Vitamin A to encourage renewal from within, rather than just exfoliating the surface.
I don’t believe that you necessarily need to ‘peel’ in order to see results. In fact, I consider a ‘healthy’ rate of peeling as no more than a ‘micro-flaking’. Results come from regeneration. The peeling is just a side effect of this process. Best results are achieved with a progressive series of superficial to moderate-depth treatments.
However, it is important to remember that as with any peel treatment, that some dryness and peeling is to be expected. It’s all part of the process and it’s important to follow the correct post-peel care advice. The full process will be explained during consultation and prior to consent to treatment.