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Skin Resurfacing – Chemical Peels

Skin Resurfacing – Chemical Peels

History of removing dead skin for cosmetic beautification

Skin Resurfacing

The art of skin resurfacing, like chemical peels, has been practiced since the ancient times. There are many stories about Cleopatra taking ritual daily milk baths to beautify her skin. It is not known if this is in fact true, however, there is certainly evidence to support its use. Historical records indicate that the Egyptians were quite interested in peeling agents to rejuvenate skin.

Milk contains lactic acid, a member of the family of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). These acids are “keratolytic” – meaning they break down and slough-off dead skin cells (keratinocytes) , permitting the skin to reveal fresher skin underneath.

Lactic acid also stimulates the release of “Epidermal Growth Factors” in the dermis, allowing the skin to repair and rejuvenate itself more quickly. AHAs also act as moisturisers by taking humidity from the air and helping skin absorb this moisture, resulting in more youthful and healthier looking skin.

This type of Skin Resurfacing is called “Chemical Resurfacing” or chemical exfoliation, however there are other forms of resurfacing too:

  • Chemical Resurfacing
  • Abrasive or Mechanical Resurfacing
  • Laser Resurfacing (utilising photo-radiation)

Chemical Resurfacing

Historical Papyrus records tell us that the Egyptians became quite sophisticated at creating chemical peels in the form of acids, balms, oils and ointments. Later, the Greek and roman physicians used sour milk, grape juice (containing tartaric acid AHA’s and resveratrol), and lemon juice (containing citric acid AHA).

Wandering gypsies are believed to have introduced phenol peels.

In modern times salicylic acid from the Willow Bark was introduced (a Beta Hydroxy-Acid). The synthetic form of salicylic acid used in Asprin for pain relief – stomach ulcers can be a side effect because by the very nature of the chemical, salicylic acid erodes the stomach lining!

The TCA (Trichloracetic Acid) peel was also introduced in modern times, the most recent chemical peel in cosmetic medicine being Glycolic Acid (another AHA).


Chemical peels can be classified as:

  • Superficial
  • Medium, or
  • Deep (such as the Baker-Gordon Formula – a mixture of phenol, Septisol and Croton oil)

Chemical peels are defined as the topical application of an acid to the skin to produce controlled injury to the epidermis and/or dermis. The subsequent re-epithelialisation by wound healing and collagen remodelling produces a renewed, rejuvenated appearance.

Being acidic in nature – the pH and concentrations and duration of exposure to the skin are the important aspects of safety when using these types of peels, or the risk can be a deep chemical burn to the skin, past the epidermis and into the dermis where the live skin cells reside. In higher Fitzpatrick (darker) skin types – the resulting traumatic inflammation can potentially cause mild to severe hyperpigmentation.

Indications for Chemical Peels

These include:

  • Acne
  • Photo-damage
  • Fine lines or rough skin
  • Melasma
  • Prevention (Anti-ageing)

The choice of type of skin resurfacing technique should match the indication with experience of the clinician/physician as well as the risk/benefit analysis so that maximal results are obtained without sacrificing unacceptable risks, eg hyperpigmentation, burn, etc.

Combining traditional Cosmetic Medicine with Integrated Regenerative Medicine

Dr Bosnich combines non-laser resurfacing including mild lactic peels with your own Platelet Rich Plasma and Growth Factors injected into the skin to enhance the post-treatment wound healing and collagen remodelling.  In this way your body is stimulated to produce good quality collagen and elastin for improved skin strength, resilience, tightening and mild volumisation of fine lines.

Fillers and botulinum toxin injections are anti-ageing treatments of the 1990’s…

Embrace the future of cosmetic medicine with quality non-laser resurfacing, PRP, and peptides – and, of course, don’t forget your sunscreen!

Enquire Now for a personal consultation with Dr Rhett Bosnich.