Chemical peels are used to treat sun-damaged skin, acne, skin discoloration and other skin imperfections such as wrinkles. It involves the application of chemicals like alpha hydroxy acids, phenol or trichloroacetic acid to the skin for a certain period of time, after which the chemical is removed. This results in the gradual peeling off of layers of skin to reveal new skin. Alternatives to chemical peels include dermabrasion, laser resurfacing and the application of topical medications like tretinoin.
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Dermabrasion is a procedure that involves sanding down of the skin surface. An abrasive mechanical device is used to sand or scrape off damaged skin. This permits new skin to regenerate in place of the previously undesired skin. This procedure is used to treat scarred skin, discolored skin and sun-damaged skin. Some side effects or risks of dermabrasion include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, formation of tiny white heads, development of scar tissue and infection. To reduce your risk of developing complications, it is best to choose a qualified dermatologist for this procedure.
Laser therapy can be used to resurface the skin just like chemical peels. During laser therapy, a beam of light is applied to the skin. The light heats up the skin and stimulates the production of collagen, a protein that keeps the skin firm and wrinkle free. The heat also causes the top layer of your skin to peel off. The end result of this treatment is the development of new skin that is smoother, firmer and more youthful in appearance. Expect some temporary pain and skin redness after the procedure. You may need up to a month for your skin to heal, and you will need to protect your skin from the sun during this time. Sunscreen with SPF 15 or more can provide sun protection while your skin heals.
Tretinoin is a prescription cream also known as Renova, Retin-A, Atralin, Revita and Refissa, among other names. It is a derivative of Vitamin A and can be used to treat acne, fine wrinkles and sun-damaged skin. Tretinoin works by peeling off the top layer of the skin and also stimulates collagen production. This cream should be used as directed by a dermatologist. Contact your dermatologist if you experience severe forms of the following: skin redness, skin peeling, dryness of your skin and a stinging sensation.