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Chemical Peels Are Most Popular Cosmetic Procedure


Medium strength peels, which are usually reserved for fair skinned people, use such chemicals as trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and take about one week to heal, Mangat says.

"These peels will get rid of brown spots and roughened scaly skin, improve fine lines, and it tends to tighten skin a little bit, but skin will be pink for about four weeks afterward," he says.

Deep peels use a chemical called phenol. These peels, which can remove the damaged top layer of skin, are only for people with very deep lines, extremely leathery skin, or acne scars, Mangat says. "They take about 10 days to heal, and a patient has more extreme redness in the face that takes four to six months to completely go away," he says. These peels cannot be performed on people with olive skin, because they can cause discoloration.

Whatever strength peel you need, it's important to choose an experienced doctor, says David J. Leffell, MD, a professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and the author of "Total Skin: The Definitive Guide to Whole Skin Care for Life."

"As more and more doctors get involved in doing cosmetic procedures outside their original area of training, it is important to ascertain where your doctor learned to do peels and what kind of experience he or she has had," he tells WebMD. "The degree to which your doctor can answer your questions specifically will be an indication of degree of expertise. In general, board certified dermatologists are the most highly trained in these procedures."

For referral to a cosmetic surgeon in your area, call ASAPS at (888) 272-7711 or visit its web site at

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