Dramatically Improve the Look of Deep Wrinkles and Severe Facial Scars with Phenol Peels

Phenol peels are the strongest chemical peel available and are usually only used for severe skin conditions when other forms of treatment are ineffective.

These peels are often referred to as "deep" peels because they penetrate deep into the skin and produce very dramatic results. However, because they are so strong, there are also significant risks that must be considered before using this treatment.

What are Phenol Skin Peels?

Phenol skin peels work by using carbolic acid to destroy the cells of the epidermis and upper dermis, causing these top layers of skin to peel away, encouraging a new layer of cells to regenerate. Sometimes the carbolic acid is mixed with other ingredients such as water, olive oil, or croton oil. Some people believe that it is actually the croton oil that makes phenol peels so effective, but this has not been proven since many peels that do not contain croton oil still produce the same results.

Basically, these peels work like any other chemical peel. However, since they can penetrate much deeper within the skin, the effects are much more significant and longer-lasting than those achieved with other treatments such as glycolic peels or salicylic peels.

Although they require a long recovery period (up to 3 months), phenol peel pictures show that the results can last for decades, and in some cases, work even better than dermabrasion or laser treatments. Since phenol peels are so strong, they are not used nearly as often as other types of peels and are generally only applied to the face as there is a higher risk of scarring on the neck or other parts of the body.

In most cases, anesthesia will be given before a phenol peel is applied and you will likely be prescribed pain relievers for a few days following the treatment.

Benefits of Phenol Skin Peels

When age spots show up, people often want them removed. There are lots of age-spot removal creams and gels on the market that claim to lighten and bleach the pigmentation to lessen the appearance of the spot.

The strength and deep penetration of a phenol peel will give many great benefits including:

  •  Exfoliation. Phenol skin peels are an effective resurfacing method since they remove the outer layer of skin to reveal a new, smooth layer that is underneath.
  • Treatment of Acne Scars. Since they can penetrate quite deep, phenol peels for acne scars are a popular choice for reducing the appearance on the face.
  • Reduction in Hyperpigmentation. Age spots, sun spots, or other areas of discoloration can be treated quite effectively because of this peel's ability to lighten skin.
  • Collagen Growth. Carbolic acid destroys the outer layer of skin, forcing the body to increase collagen production in an effort to repair itself.
  • Reduction of Deep Lines and Wrinkles. Phenol skin peels will produce dramatic improvement in the deep wrinkles found on the forehead and around the eyes and mouth. 
  • Reversal of sun damage.
  • Long-lasting Results. The effects of these peels will last longer than those of any other peel, sometimes twenty years or more.
  • Single Treatment. Unlike many other peels and skin treatments, you will usually achieve desired results with only one application.

Risks and Side Effects

Chemical peels are considered to be fairly safe treatments if administered by skilled practitioners, but the deeper the peel the higher the risk of complications and side effects.

This treatment is very effective but may also pose some dangers for certain people. You should consult your doctor before a treatment to ensure that phenol peels are an appropriate choice for your particular situation.

Some risks include:

Permanent Lightening of the Skin: It does effectively remove freckles and dark spots, however, your skin will look permanently bleached following a treatment. For this reason, they are not recommended if you have a lot of freckles since you will be left with a marked difference between your pale face and the still freckled skin of your neck and chest. Phenol peels can also cause spotting or blotches in darker skinned people and will likely leave a demarcation line as evidence that you have used this treatment.

Sensitivity towards the Sun: Although glycolic and salicylic acid peels require you to stay out of the sun for a couple of weeks following a treatment, phenol peels will leave your skin permanently sensitive to sunlight and you will need to use a high quality, full-spectrum sunscreen when outdoors.

Redness: After a peel your skin will be red and crusty. Even after your face regains a smooth texture, it will still look severely sunburned for up to 3 months. You may not feel comfortable going out in public for a few weeks, but after the initial crusting and peeling disappears, you should be able to cover the redness with makeup. Once the skin heals completely, you will be left with a paler skin tone.

Swelling: Depending on your level of sensitivity, you will experience moderate to severe swelling, but this will improve within 7-10 days.

Peeling: Your skin will peel and flake for about 1-2 weeks. This is normal since the purpose of the treatment is to exfoliate and lift away the top layers of damaged skin.

Oozing and Crusting: Since phenol peels are so strong you may develop scabs, oozing, or crusty patches. This will clear up as the skin recovers.

Pain: These peels are considered "deep" treatments so you may need to take pain medications for a few days afterwards.

Inability to Tan: Since the skin's ability to produce pigment is reduced, you will likely be unable to tan after phenol peel skin lightening effects. If you enjoy being outdoors, you may have to use makeup or spray-on formulas to ensure that your facial skin tone matches the rest of your body.

Possibility of Pigmentation: They work similar to a lightening agent so darker skin tones have a higher risk of hyper-pigmentation or uneven pale blotches.

Scarring: Due to the harsh nature of this type of peel scarring may occur.

Costly: They are quite costly, although only one treatment is needed rather than the several re-applications often necessary with other types of peels.

Who Can Use Phenol Skin Peels?

Since phenol skin peels significantly lighten skin, they work best on fair-skinned people. Those with darker skin tones may experience unwanted side effects such as hyperpigmentation or obvious demarcation lines.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should avoid phenol peels. This treatment also poses a risk of arrhythmias, so it is not recommended for those with heart problems. Many doctors will also require heart, liver, and kidney function tests before approving this treatment.

Your age may also be a factor since the skin tends to weaken and thin as you get older. In some cases, the strength and deep penetration of phenol peels may be too strong.

Phenol skin peels can produce very dramatic results. One can see a marked difference between phenol chemical peel before and after pictures. Although the healing process could take several months, the effects will last for years – even decades. However, it is important that you consult your doctor before having this treatment as there are many potential complications if they are not applied by a skilled and knowledgeable practitioner.

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