I started this peel series on November 1, 2017. I began by using products that would prep my skin to get the most benefit from the series. See my earlier blog post for details on that.
The first peel that's performed is the lactic acid peel. Lactic acid is derived from sour milk and is an alpha hydroxy acid. This is a gentle peel for normal to dry skin with irregular pigmentation. Lactic acid peels help to remove germs, dead cells and toxins from the skin. Lactic acids leave the skin much smoother.
We begin this series of peels with lactic acid because it is so gentle and can be tolerated by even sensitive skin. Although lactic acid peels are gentler, they usually provide many of the same benefits as the other peels, but in a less intense version. Lactic is hydrating and combined with the arbutin and kojic acid it gives great results as a lightening peel. My skin tolerated it well.
Two weeks later I performed the glycolic acid peel on myself. Glycolic acid is commonly used treatment for winkles and acne. Its main function is cell renewal. It is an alpha hydroxy acid, derived from sugar cane, and is a fruit acid. It helps to remove the “glue” that holds the older, rougher, dryer skin on the surface, revealing fresher-looking skin. Glycolic acid is commonly used for normal/combination skin.
I did have some flaking after this peel. About a week later my skin was flaky, but not uncomfortable at all and the flaking was hardly visible.
At the next two week interval, I performed one layer of the TCA peel. This is the big guns!
TCA stands for Trichloroacetic acid. These peels are usually used for pigment problems, more severe blemishes than can be handled by AHA peels, and wrinkles. The results are usually more dramatic than with an AHA peel but these require a slightly longer recovery period than AHA peels. The TCA peel that I use is a 10% TCA suitable for all skin types (except sensitive or rosacea skin) with irregular pigmentation. It's perfect for hyperpigmentation and melasma. I had a small amount of flaking with this peel but nothing very noticable.
Normally I would have done another TCA peel after four weeks, but I knew that I would be in Mexico and didn't want to risk having peeling skin in the tropical sun. So, after being away for eight days and being delayed by weather for another three, I finally got to do the strongest peel. I did four layers of the TCA almost a week ago. My skin is tight on the surface and has started to flake just the tiniest bit on my chin and at my temples.
Update on 2/6/18
So after several days of flaking, I had another look at my skin. The main spot I was working on is still there but a bit lighter. My overall pigmentation spots are improved, So, it's back to the peels for me. On 2/4 I did two layers of chemical peel that is a different combinations of chemicals. This peel is one that I typically use for acne but can also be used for pigmentation/anti-aging. This time I did a spot treatment. If this doesn't get the job done, I have one more trick up my sleeve.
I've tried another modality to lighten my dark spot and it has helped but I'm still not all the way there. While I was at a trade show, I attended a class on a device called the Super Frecator. This device uses a high frequency electrical current to cauterize, dehydrate and dessicate skin growths. The skin is never penetrated but a small spark is created very near the skin's surface. I had a bunch of other little spots removed too. Numbing cream was used on most but not all of the spots and the procedure was very fast and tolerable. A scab instantly develops and within a week or two falls off to reveal healthy skin cells. I suspect that my hyper-pigmented damage is down at the stem cell level and continues to reproduce pigmented skin cells which is why I haven't been able to completely lift it.