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Treating Wrinkles With Dermabrasion and Chemical Peels

Dermabrasion and chemical peels work by stripping layers of skin. The skin that then grows back is usually smoother, with less wrinkles and a reduced amount of discolouration.

Chemical peels and dermabrasion can occasionally cause side effects but in general, when performed by experienced and knowledgeable practitioners, they are safe procedures.

The skin has 3 layers- the outer layer is called the epidermis. Its main purpose is to serve as waterproofing for your skin. On your face, this layer of skin is extremely thin. The dermis, which is the second layer, is thicker and the connective tissue and collagen that gives your skin its strength is found in this layer. The third layer of skin, which is the deepest and known as the subcutaneous layer, contains the muscles, fatty tissue and blood vessels.

The peels

Chemical peels entail putting acid on the skin. The aim is to cause a controlled first (or in some cases, second) degree burn that causes the skin to peel. When the damaged skin peels off new tissue forms that should look smoother and feel tighter.

Mild chemical peels include glycolic peels salicylic acid peels. These are usually done at a salon, and occasionally in a dermatologist’s office. They characteristically take away the epidermis, and results are not considered long-lasting. The side effects are generally skin reddening and some mild skin peeling.

Medium-depth peels are done in a dermatologist’s office. The most commonly applied peel contains trichloroacetic acid. These peels not only remove the top layer, they also alter the second layer of skin. As the second layer heals, brand new collagen forms and the original collagen tightens.

The recovery period following medium-depth chemical peels takes several weeks. During this time, the original layers of skin shed and the fresh skin looks sunburned. Men and women with moderate lines or wrinkling and some sagging frequently see substantial improvement in the appearance of their skin fafter a medium-depth chemical peel.

Generally, these results will last from a number of months to several years. Skin discoloration may recur more quickly, though, with a little darkening coming back within 6 months.

There are strong chemical peels available too, including peels that use phenol. These peels are very strong and cause a very deep chemical burn. These peels can help those with severe acne scars or very deep wrinkles. However, they are not used widely because recovery time is much longer, and the side effects can be much more serious. These include lasting skin discoloration, and a risk of heart rhythm problems.

Generally, chemical peels work best for those with mild to moderate lines, wrinkles and sagging. This usually includes those in their mid 30s, 40s or 50s. For someone 60 or older, who has deeper wrinkles and more sagging, a chemical peel may not be quite as effective. In addition to skin damage, many people over 60 have lost some of the skin’s underlying soft tissue that a chemical peel simply cannot fix.


Like chemical peels, the principle of dermabrasion is to safely remove layers of skin. The main difference is that during dermabrasion the skin is essentially sanded away- typically with a small tool that looks a little bit like a small electric toothbrush.

A main benefit of dermabrasion is that the depth of its result can be precisely controlled. Dermabrasion is useful for correcting one-off irregularities in the skin, such as a raised scar, small acne scars.

Before you commit to choosing a chemical peel or dermabrasion, speak to Dr Thevendra about the possible risks and benefits for your skin.