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​Chemical Skin Peels​


How do chemical peels work?​


​Peels are keratolytic agents.  Due to a low pH peels are able to denature (breakdown) proteins within the skin.  This results in skin necrosis or cell death.  

What occurs on a cellular level post chemical peeling?


  1. ​​Thickening of the epidermis occurs.  Even removal of the stratum corneum (outermost layer) will stimulate epidermal growth.

  2. Removal of damaged or abnormal cells in order to replace them with normal more organised cells.

  3. Induction of an inflammatory reaction deeper in the tissue than the peeled layers.  Through inflammation, synthesis of new collagen and ground substance is deposited into the dermis.


Why is skin preparation important?

Skin preparation is one of the most important concepts of chemical peeling as it pre-conditions the skin and improves the outcome of the peel by:

  • Increasing the speed of re-epithelialisation (epidermal healing) of the skin post peel

  • Encourages a uniform penetration of the peeling agent.  If there are areas of thickened dead skin cells the peel is less likely to penetrate evenly

  • Decreases the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).  By speeding up the epidermal cell turnover the transfer of pigment from the melanocytes to the keratinocytes is impaired

  • Introduces patients to a maintenance regime.  Patients will develop a good skin care routine and practice good sun protection, which assists in maintaining their results post peel

Do peels thin the skin?


Peels only thin the Stratum Corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis consisting of dead cells that slough off).  As a result it becomes more compact and organised allowing better light reflection or better luminosity.  Peels actually thicken the epidermis due to an increase in epidermal cells.  Peels also thicken the dermis due to an increase in extracellular fibres and GAGS (Glycosaminoglycans).

How are peels new and improved?

There is a movement away from trauma based therapies in favour of non-inflammation based skin building peels, which are focused on repair without undue pain and downtime.  This is because patients lead busy lives and cannot afford to take time off work.  They are interested in treatments that will still allow them to go to work or carry out their daily activities.  New generation peels are focused on rebuilding, strengthening and repairing the skin.  They are comprised of anti-oxidants, non-irritating hydroxy acids and vitamin A's as well as non-toxic skin brighteners.  They focus on change rather than annihilation.  

At Territory Laser Clinic we have introduced new generation Aspect Clinical Peels and CosMedix Professional Peels to Darwin.  You will experience all the fabulous effects of a peel with no downtime or actual peeling!  These peels can be applied in a lunch break and you can return to work and no-one will even know you just had a chemical peel! Territory Laser Clinic is the only clinic in the Territory performing Aspect and CosMedix Peels.

What are common peeling agents?


  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) - Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid

  • Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) such as Salicylic Acid

  • Vitamin A such as Retinol

Glycolic versus Lactic Acid...what's the difference?

Research suggests that both Glycolic and Lactic Acid peels provide similar results.  However, Lactic Acid is thought to be more moisturising and is a slightly larger molecule which means the client will experience less irritation than with Glycolic Acid.  Lactic Acid is also found naturally in the body in its chemical structure.

What are the indications for AHA and BHA peels?


  • Freckles

  • PIHP (Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation)

  • Epidermal pigmentation

  • Melasma (blotchy pigmentation occurring in a symmetrical fashion only on the face)

  • Sun damage

  • Solar Lentigines aka sun spots (flat pigmented lesions varying in size 1 to 3cm in diameter)

  • Actinic Keratosis (pink or brown flaky or scaly areas of skin varying in size 1 to 3cm in diameter)

  • Rosacea

  • Dull, lifeless skin

  • Fine lines and wrinkles

  • Acne

  • Oily, congested skins

  • Dehydration

  • Keratosis Pilaris (numerous small, rough, tan or little red bumps around hair follicles on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks and cheeks)

Why is it important to assess candidates for chemical peels?

  1. ​Skin Type.  All skin types are suitable for chemical peels, however higher percentages may not be suitable for darker skin types.

  2. Patient Expectations.  The Dermal Therapist will ensure the client fully understands what improvements they can expect.

  3. Contraindications.  Anything that prevents a client of having a chemical peel will be ruled out at the consultation.  This is to prevent potential risks and complications.


What are potential risks and complications?

They include:

  • Epidermolysis - visual separation of the epidermis from the dermis

  • PIHP (Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) in darker skin types - darker patches appearing on the skin post peel.  It can take weeks to years for the skin to return to normal colour 

  • Prolonged erythema (redness), scarring, dermal wound, delayed wound healing and possible infection (if the skin is not cared for correctly)


Always minimise complications and risks by ensuring your technician is a fully qualified Dermal Therapist. 


"Is it going to hurt"?

This is a common question asked by patients prior to proceeding with chemical peeling.  Chemical peels do sting for a short period and for some patients, it can be quite uncomfortable.  However, I find the level of comfort varies between patients.  Most handle the sensation very well.  I will always offer patients a fan as this will increase their comfort level.  The stinging or tingling feeling is only short lived and the results you experience are well worth it.

How many peels will I need?


Depending on the skin condition being treated, you will require 3 to 12 treatments, every 2 to 4 weeks.  Treatments can continue providing the skin is not showing signs of irritation beyond the healing stage. 

What after care is involved?


Post peel the skin will be sensitive for 3 to 5 days and requires special care.  The post treatment products will be used during this time. Daily application of SPF 30+ is essential. You should avoid direct sun exposure.  Territory Laser Clinic provides the patient with written after care instructions so you know exactly how to care for your skin. 

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