Phenol - Deeper Peel

I’ve been reading lately about the varying degrees of peeling agents, which range in strength from the lowest, such as over-the-counter alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), to medium peels such as TCA,  to the deepest peeling agent phenol, which is actually carbolic acid.

What is it?
I was surprised to learn that phenol occurs naturally in rotting vegetables; so does that mean we can create our own phenol peels from our compost piles?  That may not be so far fetched when you consider that you can create your own peels from items around the house, but I’ll save that for another post.

Phenol was originally derived from coal, back in the 1800s, but today it’s man-made.  Its non-cosmetic uses include adhesives, air fresheners and perfumes, antimicrobial agents, and corrosives.

Who can use it?
Phenol has been used for deep peels in cosmetics for over 20 years.  It’s more appropriate for deeper wrinkles on fair skin, which that cannot be treated successfully with medium peels.  Phenol is not suitable for those with freckles or darker skin since it can permanently discolor the skin.  I read that even people who have lighter skin may have to wear makeup for months or years to help the treated areas match untreated areas, such as the neck, ears, and chest.  Some say that the skin never returns to a natural color after redness subsides: it takes on a ghostly white shade, permanently.  Also, the skin will not tan again after this procedure, so if you like that sun-kissed look, pick up some bronzer, a lot of it, along with sunscreen.

Some people have used phenol peel to remove tattoos since it goes deeply enough to eradicate the ink.  Just remember that the color will always be different in that area from the surrounding skin.

The Procedure:
Although phenol acts as a local anesthetic, general anesthesia or heavy sedation is used because this chemical peel basically burns off your face, and this is not something you want to remember!  Further, you’ll probably be taking some pretty good pain relievers for about a week after the procedure.  A doctor should always apply this peel; do not allow anyone else to use this peel on you, and don’t try to DIY (I DIY everything, but I wouldn’t dream of using this).  The actual procedure can take 15-60 minutes, and the face will be covered with some type of occlusive, antibacterial petroleum jelly.

After the anesthesia subsides, there will be mild to severe pain, so take your meds on time!  The pain will subside within about two weeks.  The swelling will probably keep the eyes shut or close to it the morning after the procedure, but that shouldn’t last more than a day or two.  You can go out with sunscreen and mineral makeup in about 2-3 weeks, and plan to wear sunscreen forever.  Total recovery takes about 2-3 months, but the skin color will never get darker after the light shade develops.  Other products you may want to consider include a gentle cleanser, CU3 Copper Complex, antibacterial petroleum jelly, and some have suggested head bands and even a wig

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