Is it really necessary to use treatments before getting the face peel? Is it possible to skip that and just get the peel ASAP?
Necessary to Have Treatments Before Face Peels?
Doctor Answers 8
Do I you need to prep before a chemical peel?
Whether or not you need to prep before a chemical peel depends on what type of peel you plan to do and your skin color. For superficial peels, pre-treatment prep should not be necessary. Healing may be accelerated by the use of topical retinoids for a few weeks if you are planning to get a medium depth peel. Patients with darker skin may want to prep with a bleaching agent, such as hydroquinone, for 2-3 weeks before getting a peel stronger than a superficial peel. This is an important questions to discuss with the doctor who is going to perfore the peel.
Facial treatment before a peel
When performing a chemical peel, it is best to treat the skin for 4-6 weeks with products that will balance and prep the skin so that it peels evenly. Now we have many different kinds of lasers that can give the same result as a peel. The beauty of the lasers is that the skin doesn't have to be pre-treated in the same way because many of the lasers remove the outer layers of skin without having to rely on it to be absorbed like a chemical does.
Go for an ounce of prevention with deeper chemical peels
For a superficial, spa type peel a prep is not needed. If you are having a deeper chemcial peel such as TCA it is absolutely necessary to be prepped prior to the peel. All skin types can be prone to develop a post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or a darkening of the skin. Without preparing your skin for 3 - 4 weeks prior to a TCA peel you are at risk for this problem. A good prep program may consist of using agents such as hydroquinone and kojic acid and tretinoin. I also general place my patients on an antiviral medication to prevent a herpes infection. Like they say an ounce of prevention....
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Pre-treatment for chemical peel
Pre-treatment with agents such as topical retinoids, hydroquinone or alpha hydroxy acids are not necessary. Pre-treatment with topical retinoids has been shown to accelerate healing after medium-depth peels and would probably result in a deeper peel. Hydroquinone can be used after the peel but probably does not help before the peel, to reduce the risk of brown pigmentation from the peel. Pre-treatment, however, is not necessary.
Treatment before peel helpful but not necessary
You didn't say what type of peel you are considering, and there is quite a difference between salon-type peels and deeper physician-supervised chemical peels. In either case, the results will be more predictable and your recovery faster if you pre-treat for at least a few weeks. This usually involves tretinoin (Retin-A) and something to control pigment such as hydroquinone. Plan ahead for sun protection too especially this time of year.
It depends upon the depth of the peel and your skin type. For most patients with darker skin we will use a skin bleaching agent and for deeper peels we often use antibiotics as well as antivirals and on occasion antifungals. Post treatment retinols and skin lighten agents may be used. Again your plastic surgeon will be the most helpful in determining what it is you will need to enhance your results in a safe manner.
Patients often pretreat with Retin-A and with an anti-viral prior to facial peels. These are to improve your overall result and to limit your chance of developing cold sores after the peel. While I think there is benefit to both these medications, its not critical and you can certainly have a peel without them. Be sure to avoid sun exposure postop as any peel can sensitize you to the sun.