Many fine wrinkles and acne scars can be improved using chemical peels such as glycolic acid and trichloracetic acid (TCA) or microdermabrasion. Repeated sessions of glycolic acid or microdermabrasion are needed as opposed to 1-2 sessions of trichloroacetic acid. The acid in the peeling solution, or aluminum particles, in the case of microdermabrasion, exfoliate the top layers of the skin and allow the improvement of "dull skin", wrinkles, sunspots, roughness, acne and large pores.
The recovery period for microdermabrasion and glycolic peels is limited to a few hours in which the face appears red. Makeup can be applied immediately after the procedure to cover this up. TCA peels require topical anesthesia because they penetrate deeper and therefore require healing time up to a week. During this time, the skin resembles a severe sunburn, but heals completely within 5-7 days. Oral antivirals are generally given prior to and for 5 days after TCA peels.
Chemical peels are best used as part of a full rejuvenation program which includes Botox and filler injections.
Chemical peels are often used around or near areas of laser resurfacing to help transition the fresher appearance of the skin that is achieved after laser resurfacing, and are ideal for rejuvenation of the neck, chest and hands, where it is risky to resurface with lasers.
A preparation of the skin using careful sun protection is necessary in all patients, and bleaching creams as well as other treatments may be necessary in some patients with darker skin types.