WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT THIS PROCEDURE?
T he way that you feel about yourself is often related to how your skin looks and feels. Factors that can affect the appearance of your skin include photodamage (sun damage), acne scarring and age spots. In recent years, physicians worldwide have found that the use of alpha hydroxy acids can result in significant improvement in the appearance of your skin.
O ur products contain glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, which in nature is found in sugar cane. In addition, sensitive skin formulations contain a special, gentler AHA, gluconolactone. When used under the care of your doctor, these products will leave your skin smoothly textured, healthier looking and more radiant than ever. Fine lines may also be reduced, along with other skin improvements.
What Is Glycolic Acid?
G lycolic acid is one of the alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), a group of naturally occurring substances often referred to as "fruit acids" because they are found naturally in various fruits and other foods. In its natural state, glycolic acid is found in sugar cane juice. Leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide have long appreciated the positive results of AHA procedures. Numerous clinical publications have shown the benefits of AHAs in improving skin appearance. Improvement has been found in patients with dry skin, with oily and acne-prone skin and with age spots.
M any skin problems are caused by or associated with excessive build-up of dead skin cells that make the skin thick and dull. AHAs help to loosen and remove the layers of dead cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin. This produces an initial thinning of the thickened skin and an ongoing improvement in skin appearance and texture.
What Is a Glycolic Acid Peel?
A glycolic acid peel procedure is a specific technique for skin renewal. With this process, a high concentration of glycolic acid rapidly removes the damaged layer of dead skin cells revealing the fresh, undamaged skin underneath. This release of surface dead skin cells initiates the response of deeper skin cell rebuilding and restructuring. This activity causes the surface skin to appear healthier, plumper and tighter. Essentially, the glycolic acid peel process is a controlled removal of surface skin cells that acts as a stimulus for renewal of the skin and an improved skin appearance.
How Do Glycolic Acid Peels Differ From Other Chemical Peels?
I n the past, chemical peeling agents have been primarily phenol and trichloroacetic acid (TCA). These types of chemical peels are effective in a number of conditions requiring a deep peel, although they are, by their very nature, toxic to cells. Phenol and TCA can produce procedural complications, such as excessive coloration or discoloration (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation) and possible scarring. The patient may have a long skin recovery period. For these reasons, they are not used where a superficial peel is the desired procedure. In contrast, the glycolic acid peel is not toxic to skin cells, since it is used to gently remove the damaged layer of cells that cover the healthy skin cells. The glycolic acid peel procedure is a superficial peel. Skin appearance improvements usually result from the controlled series of peels that do not require long recovery periods or significant downtime. Drs. Van Scot and Yu and associates have found that if proper procedures and techniques are used, results with glycolic acid peels are comparable to those seen with phenol or TCA, without their complications.
Who Can Have a Glycolic Acid Peel Procedure?
T o determine if you can have a glycolic acid skin renewal peel procedure, you need to meet with your doctor and discuss your medical history. This consultation and medical history review is very important, since it provides the information necessary for your doctor to decide if you should have a glycolic acid peel procedure. Your doctor will design a program for you with the appropriate type and timing for a peel, based on your medical history, age and skin type.
I n addition, there may be some special instructions for you in the two week period prior to your scheduled peel procedure, if you have experienced the following conditions: allergies, atopic skin reactions, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, collagen disease/autoimmune disease, viral infections (including herpes simplex) and sun sensitivity. These conditions can affect the sensitivity and receptivity of your skin to the glycolic acid peel. Also, if you take certain drugs, such as anticoagulants for circulation disorders, or if you smoke, your skin may recover more slowly after the peel process.
U nder certain circumstances, your doctor may decide that now is not the ideal time for you to have a peel procedure. It is essential that you let your doctor know if you have experienced any of the following conditions: active herpes simplex, warts, Auccutane* use within six (6) months, recent surgery (healing wounds), prior peels or dermabrasion, recent radiation treatment, bad sunburn, hypertrophic or keloidal scarring and cryotherapy/ cryosurgery within one (1) month. In these circumstances, the discretion of the physician is advisable.
I f after your consultation, you think of any additional information in these areas that had not been discussed with your doctor, you should contact him or her prior to your peel procedure.
F or example, if you do have a history of herpes simplex, you should be taking a preventive medicine prior to the peel. The peel procedure can bring on an episode of herpes lesions in patients with a history of herpes simplex infections.
What Kinds of Improvement Can I Expect With A Peel Procedure?
W ith your doctor, you should discuss the type of skin improvement you hope to have from the peel procedure. Together you can decide if your expectations are realistic and redefine your goals if necessary to get your desired improvement. The following are types of improvements that are possible with a glycolic acid peel procedure program and items to discuss with your doctor: