Chemical Peel on Dark Skin
From acne to discoloration to fine lines, chemical peels can treat a variety of skin problems. However, for those with dark skin, chemical peels also carry an added risk of leading to pigmentation issues. A knowledge of the risks and rewards of the applications can help you to make an informed decision.
A chemical peel involves the application of a specific-strength chemical to the skin in order to encourage skin peeling. Because dead and damaged skin cells can lie on the skin, this encourages cell turnover, leading to newer, healthier skin. While different varieties of chemical peels are available, some may be better than others for treating skin that is highly pigmented, such as dark skin.
Chemical peel formulas vary based on the depth the chemicals penetrate the skin. Superficial peels, such as those using alpha hydroxy acids, penetrate only the outer layer of the skin, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However, deeper peels, such as a phenol peel, penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, according to the Loftus Plastic Surgery Center, a plastic surgery practice that serves as experts for several broadcast television programs. As a general rule, the deeper the peel, the more dramatic the results experienced. However, for those with darker skin, deeper peels also carry greater risks of adverse side effects.
Having darker skin means you have higher levels of pigmentation than a person who has lighter skin. When a chemical peel is applied to the skin, it is possible for the chemical peel to unevenly penetrate the skin. This results in a condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, according to Dr. Bryan K. Chen, a San Diego, California, dermatologist on the Real Self website. The risks of experiencing this condition, which causes dark spots to appear on the skin, is higher in those with darker skin, making it important to seek treatment from a reliable physician who will discuss possible risks and how to minimize them.
If you have dark skin and are considering a chemical peel, discuss risks and rewards with your dermatologist or aesthetician, according to Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon writing on Realself.com. "In patients with darker complexion, chemical peels can be very useful. However, patients should be cautioned about the higher risk of skin pigmentation. These patients should be prescribed pre- and post-procedural pigmentation programs to control the incidence and severity of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," said Karamanoukian.
Chen recommends utilizing a test patch of chemical on a lesser-used portion of skin or beginning with only a light coat of a superficial chemical peel, such as salicyclic acid. Ask your physician about steps you can take prior to undergoing a chemical peel to ensure a more even application. This can include applying an exfoliating cream, such as tretinoin, to the skin prior to undergoing the chemical peel.
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