What is Glycolic Acid?
Glycolic Acid (GCA) is one of the alpha-hydroxyacids (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 treatments. Numerous clinical publications have demonstrated their benefit in improving skin appearance and texture. Improvements have been observed in patients with dry skin, oily and acne-prone skin, and with pigmentation concerning age spots and melasma.
Many skin problems are caused by or associated with an excessive build-up of dead skin cells that makes the skin thick and dull, and may cause clogged pores. AHAs help to loosen and remove the surface layers of skin, as well as promote more even pigmentation and deeper skin firming effects.
What is a Glycolic Acid Peel?
A glycolic acid peel treatment is a specific technique for skin renewal. During this process, a high concentration of GCA is applied to the skin for a short period of time and then chemically neutralized to end the treatment. This procedure rapidly removes the damaged layer of surface skin cells revealing fresh skin, and stimulating cell rebuilding and restructuring of deeper skin layers. This procedure can help the skin appear smoother, healthier, plumper and tighter, with more even pigmentation.
Can Anyone be Treated with a Glycolic Acid Peel?
To determine if you should have a chemical peel, we will discuss your medical history, skin sensitivities and peel expectations. We will design a program especially for you with the appropriate type and timing for a peel.
Many conditions can affect the sensitivity and reactivity of your skin to the GCA peel. We may recommend that you briefly discontinue using certain products, depending on you product-use practices and medical history.
What Kinds of Improvement Can I Expect with a series of Peel Treatments?
- softening of fine lines from sun damage
- diminution of coarse lines from sun damage
- increased smoothness in skin texture
- mild or moderate smoothing of acne scars
- lightening of pigmentation irregularities
- increasing skin glow or radiance
- some minimization of pore size
How Will I Look or Feel Right After the Peel Treatment?
Initially your skin may be somewhat red or puffy. It may take up to one week for the renewal and rebuilding process to allow your skin appearance to return to “normal.” During this repair/renewal period some patients have experienced some of the following: stinging, itching, burning, mild pain or discomfort, tightness, sun sensitivity, and peeling of the superficial layer of the skin. Light peeling is an expected result, of course, but not necessary to see the improvement you want. The sensations will lessen over the course of the week as the skin returns to its “normal” appearance. Analgesics can be used to treat any mild pain. Any changes in skin pigmentation, or uncomfortable irritation should be reported to our office right away.
Are There Any Possible Negative Reactions to a Peel Treatment?
The GCA peel process can possibly cause: 1) an acne flare due to deep pore cleansing, 2) a herpes simplex flare in patients who have had previous herpes infections (particularly if no preventative treatment was used or 3) an acne-like inflammation around the mouth (called peri-oral dermatitis). Some patients may experience transient spots of hyper- or hypopigmentation (coloration or discoloration) after a GCA peel procedure. If these conditions are left untreated, they usually resolve themselves. However, you should inform us if you develop changes in skin coloration.