History

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Since deep chemical peels are based on phenol-containing solutions, it seems that the history of this procedure starts at the moment of car bolic acid discovery in 1834 by German chemist Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge. The name phenol was coined in 1841 by Charles Frederick Gerhardt. Nowadays phenol is prepared synthetically in a process that utilizes chlorobenzene as a starting point.

One hundred years ago New York dermatologist George Miller MacKee, a chairman of the New York Dermatology and Syphilology Center, began using phenol peeling at this prestigious institution. Together with his colleague, dermatologist Florentine L. Karp, they published their experience with 540 treatments over a 10-year period with phenol peels for post-acne scarring [1]. Among other contributors to the development of phenol-based peels at that time were Bames [2], Urkov [3], Combes and Sperber [4], Brown [5], and Litton [6].

Most of the credit of phenol-based peels during the late 1940s and early 1950s is attributed to lay operators. Their illegal work was probably one of the reasons for rejection and skepticism related to the procedure by medical profession in those years.

The main role in the final revival of deep chemical peeling was played by two American plastic surgeons, Thomas J. Baker and Howard L. Gordon, who during the 1960s medically legitimated this procedure by discussing it in national meetings and demonstrating their impressive results [7,8].

Since then numerous other authors such as Stone [9],Spira [10],Hetter [11], and Fintsi [12] have contributed to the procedure and helped it emerge from semi-obscurity to its respectable and valued place in the field of aesthetic surgery.

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