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Forget about the various creams available in the market that promise blemish-free and fair skin. If you really want soft, smooth and
flawless skin, chemical peels are the safest bet, say experts.

"A chemical peel is a treatment technique used to improve and smoothen the texture of facial skin using a chemical solution that causes the skin to blister and eventually peel off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin," Anup Dhir, senior cosmetic surgeon at New Delhi's Apollo Hospital said.

Chemical peels stimulate the production of new cells, tighten and tone the skin, and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also help in lightening acen scars.

"Peels treat wrinkled, blemished, unevenly pigmented or sun-damaged facial skin. Application of a chemical solution to improve the skin's appearance leads to a controlled shedding of several layers of cells. This stimulus tightens the tissue collagen and brings about a fresh and vibrant appearance," explains Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Meenakshi Agarwal.

Ramsha Sheriff, 24, had a severe acne problem and tried all sorts of cosmetic products to get rid of acne marks but was unhappy with the results till she decided to go for a chemical peel. In just four sittings, the scars had lightened and the added benefit was that the pigmentation on her face had also reduced.

"I had tried every cream that promises to reduce these acne marks, but nothing worked. Finally I took advice of a dermatologist and underwent these peels. The result is just excellent," Sharif said.

"What I have realised is that one should not take these things lightly; it's better to consult a professional rather than wasting your money on expensive creams that are of no use."

Different types of chemical peels that one can opt for are alpha hydroxy acid peels (AHAs), beta hydroxy acid peels, retinoic acid peels, trichloroacetic acid peels and phenol peels that cater to regular maintenance of skin, acne and acne blemishes, anti aging, skin lightening, anti pigmentation and deep pigmentation among other problems.

"The choice of the most suitable chemical peel for an individual is determined by the patient's skin texture, type, problems and many other similar aspects," Dhir explained.

Kaya Skin Clinic's medical head Snehal Sriram says chemical peels can also reduce or eliminate fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth.

"The procedure can treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and scarring as well as skin blemishes common with age and heredity. These peels can be performed on the face and neck, as well as body parts like chest, hands, arms, legs, underarms and back," Sriram maintained.

The peels are also known as "lunch time procedures" since they only take between 20 to 40 minutes.

"The number of sittings required by an individual depends on the severity of the problems being addressed. Usually six to eight such peels are required at weekly or fortnightly intervals to get desired results," said Dhir.

One important precaution after undergoing treatment is protection from exposure to sun.

"Ensure that you apply sunscreen in the right way, 15 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply after every three hours because after the peel you get a new, smooth skin that is sensitive to direct sunlight," Agarwal explained.

These peels cost anywhere between Rs.1,000 and Rs.3,000 but one should consult a dermatologist before going for them.


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