A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the top layers. The skin that grows back after a chemical peel is smoother and younger looking. Chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration and scars — typically on the face.

A quick rejuvenation

Quite recently I had the opportunity to try a chemical peeling procedure. When I first heard of it, I was quite intrigued as I had never heard of such procedure.

When anyone tells me they will put chemicals on my face, or rather ‘acid peels’, I would usually visualise my face being burnt by the acid. However, I was told it was nothing like what as I was thinking.

The chemical peels that were put on my face was made of sugar cane! Or in medical and scientific terms — glycolic acid, and at only 20 percent. The procedure was rather fast and over in such a short time that it did not feel like I went through anything.

At the clinic, I was told to clean my face with a normal cleanser before I lay on the bed. The nurse then applied a pre-peel cleanser on my face to double clean my skin to prepare it for the peeling.

Then she applied vaseline at the corners of my eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the acid from getting in it. To tell you the truth, I was really nervous about what came next.

While I was told that this procedure existed quite long ago, I was not too convinced that there was such treatment and what scares me the most was the word ‘chemical’ and ‘acid’.

However, when the nurse applied the chemical peel on my face, all I felt were tingling sensations — as if I was bitten by ants. But such feelings rendered me to believe that I was undergoing treatment to better my facial skin.

The glycolic acid used was only on my face for a maximum of two minutes, and at the beeping of the alarm, the nurse then neutralised me. After the process, there were white bubbles on my face. And after that, they calmed my face with a wet, cold towel before they let me off.

I was shocked once again — it was a fast procedure, and my face did feel smooth as if I just came out of a facial clinic.

Dr Ruth giving a talk recently on the usage of chemical peeling.

The demonstration was held at Borneo Medical Centre, Kuching during their talk on ‘Building your practice with acid peels’ by resident dermatologist and laser surgeon, Dr Ruth Ling.

The talk was to enlighten doctors on the usage of chemical peels within their practices. A chemical peel is a technique using chemical substances to regenerate the skin and as an anti-ageing procedure.

“Peeling of the skin using chemical substances will cause controlled ‘damage’, which are damages that can stimulate the skin to renew itself,” said Dr Ruth.
Application of the chemical is cheaper at cost, with immediate results. “It is good for people who are busy but want a quick rejuvenation. The procedure takes only about five to 10 minutes. It feels like a quick facial.”

Chemical peeling procedure is good for oily, acne skin, dull tone, wrinkles and uneven or rough texture. It also helps to clear all the pores and pigmentation on the facial skin. With no effect and no limitation of usage, after the peel, patients are required to only use sunblocks.

Speaking to Neoasia (a well-known distributor of medical aesthetics and dermatological technologies in Asia) business manager Jannice Liew, she explained that the procedure of doing chemical peeling can only be done by a medical practitioner.

Jannice also shared what many are worried — the thinning of the facial skin cell, “People do think that with frequent use of peel may thin the skin but that is not so because we have a clinical research that proves that once a month peeling can increase the skin thickness by 25 percent.”

Explaining the process, Jannice shared that normally, a practitioner would apply 2 millilitres of glycolic acid onto the face. She advised those who are going to do chemical peeling to not go under intense exposure to the sun for one week.

She further added that the increase of thickness means that the quality of skin becomes better. “Peeling also helps to strengthen and stimulate the production of collagen, hence making the skin looks plumper.”