Glycolic acid peels slough away the upper layer of dead skin cells, allowing anti-aging skin benefits. It is a mild chemical peel that is generally applied to the face, but is also used to improve skin care appearance of the hands, upper chest, neck and arms.
Glycolic peels treat pigmentation problems, removes freckles and acne, and treats sun-damage. It can also stimulate the production of new collagen, improving skin texture. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from fruit and sugar cane.
The glycolic peel process only takes about twenty minutes. The patient’s face is first washed and cleansed, and then the glycolic acid solution is applied for several minutes. The gylcolic peel will sting, so an over-the-counter painkiller is recommended before the treatment begins.
Finally, the glycolic peel is neutralized with an alkaline substance such as sodium bicarbonate or washed away with water. When the treatment is complete, the skin will appear to be pinkish in color.
The cost is variable and depends on the depth of the glycolic peel and how many peels are necessary. Cost per glycolic peel can range from hundreds to a thousand dollars. On the average, cost is about $375.
Chemical peel procedures often have few side effects other than a minimal risk of complication and the expected peeling process. However, in less than 2% of those who have endured the experience, complications have included scarring, a re-activation of cold sores, and permanent or temporary changes in the color of the skin.
Prior to a glycolic peel, a small area can be tested if there are any concerns about the risks. To prevent cold sores from developing, medications can be prescribed.
Recovery time is relatively short. Patients will begin to peel lightly for several days. Protecting the treated area from the sun by staying indoors, or by using a sunscreen cream, will help immensely. All normal activities can resume, and within one week, the skin will appear younger and clearer.
It is important to remember that glycolic peels cannot remove tiny broken blood vessels on the face or nose, cannot reduce large pore size, and will not tighten sagging skin. They also cannot remove deep scars, but they can eliminate small scars.
Glycolic peels are also effective in erasing fine lines around the mouth and under the eyes. They can smooth rough skin and create a more even skin tone by lightening freckles, sun or age spots, and blotches caused by certain medications such as birth control pills.