What Chemical Peel is Best to Tighten Skin?

What Chemical Peel is Best to Tighten Skin?

Doctor Answers 7

Fraxel Laser As an Alternative to Chemical Peel Options To Tighten the Skin.

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In order to understand the best way to treat skin laxity, it is important to understand the causes behind why your skin loses its firmness and elasticity.

These qualities are attributed to protein fibers in your skin like collagen.
Exposure to UV rays as well as the presence of free radicals from food and environmental sources causes damage to these fibers, making your skin less firm. Wrinkles are likely to form at this point.

Chemical peels primarily address the surface of the skin. And results will vary widely across individuals. Lasers like Fraxel, offer safer and more predictable results. The laser energy is turned into heat which prompts the dermis layer to produce new collagen fibers.

Both Fraxel Repair and Fraxel Dual use this principle. However, Fraxel Repair may be ideal if you have fair or light olive toned skin. The laser vaporizes numerous  vertical columns of skin and reduces the overall surface area. This of course tightens the skin. Fraxel Dual will be a better choice if you have darker colored skin.

Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Best Chemical Peel For Skin Tightening

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Alpha and beta hydroxyacid chemical peels erase fine lines and give the skin a smoother appearance within 1 to 3 treatments. Light TCA chemical peels (including Obagi Blue Peels) use trichloroacetic acid to more aggressively erase wrinkles and tighten the skin, minimize enlarged pores, and even pigmentation. As TCA is more aggressive in nature, recovery time is increased.


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This is a great question and there is much misinformation about chemical peels. Chemical peels, whether botanical, natural, or chemical are categorized as: "superficial", "medium-depth", or "deep". There are entire volumes of textbooks written on this subject, but our space is limited here. To summarize...A superficial chemical peel is defined as a peel that affects the epidermal layer only. A medium-depth chemical peel affects the epidermis and the upper dermis, and a deep chemical peel affects all of the epidermis and a large part of the dermis. Superficial and medium depth peels can cause a temporary tightening of the skin. This tightening is due to the body's response to the agent that was applied, for example an alpha-hydroxy acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, or an enzyme peel will cause an inflammatory reaction by the body, with swelling in the skin and a temporary tight feeling, followed by dehydration of the tissue, with a continued tight appearance. Depending on the potency of the agent applied, the tight appearance continues for 1 to 7 days. After the body's response has ended, the skin will re-hydrate and return to normal. Deep chemical peels (usually involving phenol or high levels of TCA paired with other compounds) are the only peels that can cause permanent tightening, and the tightening is due to permanent alteration of the collagen in your skin, including possible permanent damage. 

Chemical peeling is often thought of as a minor procedure, but as you can see by my comments, it can cause damage or it can be a wonderful thing..it just depends who is treating you and how much they know. For this reason, please see a board certified dermatologist or board certified facial plastic surgeon for a peel. Get fully educated on the types of peels available, especially those that are best for you. 

Christine Glavey, MD (retired)
Alpharetta Dermatologic Surgeon

TCA (Trichloroacetic Acid) Peel Improves Wrinkles and Tightens Skin

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A fairly strong (higher concentration, greater pressure of application, greater frost achieved) TCA peel can improve sun damage, wrinkling and skin laxity.  However, such a peel involves one to two weeks of edema, erythema (redness), peeling skin and possibly crusting. Chemical peeling when done correctly by a well-trained, experienced, board-certified dermatologist can yield excellent results. The link below shows before and after photos of a TCA 35% peel with heavy frost.  After photos were taken about 4 to 6 weeks after the peel. 

Medium peels

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Generally, medium peels are great for fine lines and wrinkles, but if you want something more aggressive then I suggest other treatments. Deeper wrinkles can be treated with fillers. Laser skin tightening can also work.

Medium Depth Chemical Peels Are Effective For Skin Tightening

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Chemical peels can be used effectively to treat sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles, acne and acne scars, and dark spots on the skin. Even rough skin and a dull complexion can benefit from a chemical peel. When skin laxity and wrinkles are the primary concern I usually recommend a medium depth peel with Tricholoracetic Acid (TCA) or a combination of Jessner's solution and TCA. Medium depth peels cause a deeper level of peeling compared to superficial peels like glycolic or beta peels. They are also typically associated with greater downtime and often the patient will be red for a week after treatment. These peels should really be performed with a dermatologist trained in this procedure.

Adam J. Mamelak, MD
Austin Dermatologic Surgeon

Best chemical peel?

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All chemical peels will help tighten skin to a certain degree. The "most effective" peel is the one most appropriate for the changes in your skin. I use trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in varying concentrations. This acid works very well for me.

Barry Resnik, MD
Miami Dermatologist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.