Cosmetic Surgery: Higher-Grade Peels

Some doctors prefer this topical treatment to laser resurfacing because it can be performed in the office with a hand-held fan.

Targets: Fine, uneven skin pigmentation, certain scars, dull skin

Procedure: Balakhani often prefers a 30-percent tricholroacidic acid peel, known as TCA, over laser resurfacing treatments. “It can be done in the office with a hand-held fan,” he says. The practitioner will soak cotton in the TCA solution, wring it out and then apply the cotton to the patient’s face. “You go over the entire face and jaw line, careful not to apply too much pressure to the neck and jaw line,” he explains. The practitioner may do this up to three times, depending on the desired results and the patient’s tolerance. Some request mild sedation. (More intense peels require general anesthesia.) 

Time: The application takes less than 10 minutes. Then you’ll sit for about five minutes, after which the doctor or nurse will apply a topical antibiotic. 

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Recovery: Expect redness and, as the name implies, peeling. “If you don’t have peeling, you won’t have results,” Balakhani says. The deeper the peel, the longer the recovery, which can range from four to 10 days. 

» Return to the Cosmetic Feature.
» R​eturn to the January 2013 issue. 

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