Should Glycolic Peels Be Done Every Week?

Should Glycolic Peels Be Done Every Week?

Doctor Answers 1

Glycolic Acid Peels ("Fruit Washes") Work Well for Acne, Rosacea, Spotty Pigmentation and Fine Wrinkles.

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Since the early 1980s, alpha hydroxyacids, particularly glycolic acid in varying concentrations from 5 percent to 70 percent (full strength), have been used successfully for suppressing the inflammation of acne and rosacea and "drying up" pimples and opening white heads and blackheads, fading irregular brown spots ("liver spots") and improving the appearance of pores and fine wrinkles. 

Glycolic acid is perhaps the best known and most widely used. Lactic acid is another well-known alpha hydroxy acid. Glycolic acid for peeling purposes comes in strengths ranging from 5 percent to 70 percent (maximum strength). I seldom use any concentration lower than the 70percent. When used properly, there is little irritation and better chance for a gratifying esthetic result than starting low and working up.

I personally have been routinely treating my patients for these conditions, as part of an overall in-office and at-home treatment plan, with full strength glycolic acid since 1984. I generally prefer to refer to glycolic acid peels as "fruit washes" (since originally alpha hydroxyacids were derived naturally from certain fruits and milk, etc.) in order to avoid the somewhat intimidating connotation that the words "acid" and "chemical peels" bears in the minds of many people. Glycolic acid 70% fruit washes are technically superficial peels. 

In general, an initial treatment series of "fruit washes" ranges from six to twelve treatments that may be spaced anywhere from twice weekly to once per month. The frequency of the initial series depends upon the sensitivity or dryness of the person's skin, as well as other factors, such as scheduling restrictions and budget. However, there is no medical contraindication for a twice or once weekly treatment series for a person with normal skin wishing to accelerate the improvement process. 

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
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