Chemical Peeling

Assurance Skin, Laser & Aesthetics | 13 Aug 2015

The outer most layers of our skin shed off naturally and invisibly on a daily basis. As we age, this process becomes less efficient and the cells get accumulated on the outer surface and making our skin feels rough, looks less radiant and with uneven skin tone.


Credit: IAMA International

What is Chemical Peeling?

Chemical peeling is a skin treatment that removes the top layers of the skin by the application of chemical acids. The treatment exfoliates the skin, accelerates the formation of smoother, clearer skin. It also cleans the pores and hinders future breakouts if done regularly. This procedure usually treats the face and back for acne and to improve the appearance of scars, but can be performed on any part of the body for skin rejuvenation.

Glycolic Acid Peels 

Credit: Inspire Pattaya

Glycolic acid is the most frequently used alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) for skin peeling. It vary from 20% to 70% in concentrations. Dr Wong will tailor the degree of exfoliation according to the patient’s skin type and desired peel results. 

AHA peels affect only the superficial layer of your skin and are well tolerated. They remove minor impurities on the skin surface, lighten milder pigmentation leading to smoother and clearer skin.

However, chemical burns can result from prolonged exposure to high concentrations of glycolic acid and hence this procedure must be performed under the supervision of a trained doctor.

What are the benefits of Chemical Peeling?

The benefits: smoother skin, more radiant skin, brighter and better skin tone, less prone to acne. It also helps to reduce fine wrinkles and improve the appearance of mild acne scars when it is done consistently and repeatedly because of new collagen formation. Other benefits include better skin moisturization, improved barrier function and reduced skin pigmentation. It also enhances benefits from the use of topical retinoid.

How long does the treatment take?

A single glycolic acid peel treatment may be completed in 15 minutes and you can immediately return to normal activities. These peels require no downtime and are the true “lunch-time peels”.

After the procedure, there is a slight redness of the skin which will disappear very quickly.

How soon will I see results?

Chemical peeling enhances the exfoliation process and aims to reduce the visible ageing changes alluded to earlier. It also helps to exfoliate the clogged pores for patients suffering from comedones and acne.

Many patients experience softer, smoother glowing skin after 3-4 treatments. However, as chemical peeling only removes the outermost layer of the skin, there is no dramatic change in the skin with only one treatment. The recommended treatment plan is between 3 to 6 treatments, or more, depending on the condition, skin type and the result desired. It is recommended to schedule additional treatment every 6 months to maintain your skin in excellent condition.

Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) Peels

Credit: Embellish You

Salicylic acid is the only BHA used in skin peeling. It can be applied to the skin in concentrations in the 10-50% range. Salicylic acid produces a more complete exfoliation than glycolic acid, since it can peel both the skin surface and the pores. Salicylic acid is a self-neutralizing peel that ends with the formation of white salicylic acid crystals on the skin. The crystals are easily rinsed off the skin surface with water, but they do remain in the pores providing a prolonged cleansing effect. Thus salicylic acid peels are useful for general exfoliation in patients with photoaging, comedonal acnes and sensitive skin patients, such as rosacea patients where deeper dermal penetration should be minimized.

Salicylic acid is a versatile peeling solution that can be safely used in all skin types, since it rare produces hyperpigmentation. Dr Wong’s preferred BHA peel is the Obagi Blue Radiance peel which is suitable for patients of any skin type or colour seeking to improve overall skin tone, texture and complexion, with little or no downtime. A series of 4-6 peels provides best results.

Good skin revealing from under the peeling skin

3 Steps Peels

The 3 steps Peel is a medium-strength peel that combines 10% Trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid and high dose retinol (6%). It is indicated for patients of any skin type and colour, who required a more potent skin peel, but with minimal downtime (3-6 days).

The 3 steps peel is highly effective for treatment of fine lines, large pores, facial pigmentation, uneven skin tone, acne prone skin, sun damage and rough skin. 

The 3 steps peel consist of 3 steps:

  • Step 1: application of peel lotion containing salicylic acid, lactic acid and trichloracetic acid to exfoliate the skin.During step 1, one can feel hot and “spicy” and some pain for 3-5 minutes but it will stop when step 2 & 3 starts. 
  • Step 2: application of 6% retinol cream that works to stimulate skin function at a deep level for collagen enhancement, firming and wrinkle reduction.
  • Step 3: application of calming cream that works to minimize inflammation and irritation as well as restore the moisture balance of the skin.

Following the peel, the skin will be red and tight. It can be itchy at times and it is relieved by using the calming cream as often as one can. By day 3 the skin will start to peel and appear flaky and peeling would complete usually in a week. Almost all patients are happy with rejuvenated skin that appears brighter and more radiant.

The peel can be repeated every 6 weeks for up to 3-4 times and it is safe to use on most skin types. Pre-peel preparation of the skin with some topical medication is important and this will ensure the best peel results.

OBAGI Blue Peel

OBAGI Blue Peel is a highly controlled trichloroacetic acid (TCA)-based skin peeling procedure that uses 15-30% TCA. It is indicated for deeper skin restoration and treatment of specific skin disorders that require full exfoliation and complete skin cell renewal. Average downtime is 7-10 days. 

The Standard Blue Peel is intended to reach the higher dermis (skin tightening) and the tightening effects from the Standard Blue Peel are very good. The Design Blue Peel is intended to reach the deeper dermis (skin leveling) for non-stretchable scars or wrinkles. More leveling effects can be obtained by performing 2 to 3 procedures.

Blue Peel is suitable for all skin types and produces consistent results. Depending on the strength and depth of the peel used, swelling, redness and a sensation of tightness will be experienced to varying degrees following the procedure. Within days, the outer layers of the skin will begin to peel off, a process that will continue over the following days. By the 7th to 10th days, the skin should be healed and improvement noticeable. The skin’s condition will continue to improve during the weeks following the peel. For maximum improvement of wrinkles, surface scars, and dermal pigmentation, more than 1 peel may be needed. Wrinkles and scars that disappear with gentle stretching usually respond to the peel better than non-stretchable ones.


Assurance Skin, Laser & Aesthetics
Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
#10-22/23, 38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329563
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