Chemical peels are a safe alternative to surgery in order to minimize the appearance
of wrinkles, especially that which is associated with sun damage, acne scars/
blemishes and areas of uneven skin pigmentation that appear over time. The procedure
uses a liquid solution to peel away the top layers of your skin, revealing new,
smoother skin. Chemical peels can be performed on your face, neck, chest, hands,
legs or arms. Every year, an increasing number of people choose chemical peels
to resurface their skin creating a fresh, healthy and younger looking appearance.
peels are categorized as light, medium and deep, depending on
the type of chemical agent used.
acid (AHA) is used for light peels, which are often called "lunch
hour" peels because they can be done quickly and the recovery
time is very short. The chemicals used in this procedure lightly
peel the skin, which quickly results in skin that is brighter
and smoother. Light peels are often done repeatedly over time
because the results are not as dramatic and long lasting as deep
Peels use trichloracetic acid (TCA) for a medium depth peel that
is used to treat moderate sun damage, fine lines and weathered
skin. To achieve the best results, medium peels are usually performed
two or more times over a span of weeks or months.
acid is the strongest chemical solution used for this type of
procedure and it causes the deepest skin peel. A deep peel is
an extreme one-time procedure that can produce dramatic, long
lasting results. This procedure is typically performed on women
with extensive wrinkling, numerous dark brown age spots, mild
scarring or precancerous growths. Phenol peels should be used
with caution because they can cause permanent lightening of the
skin. For this reason, Phenol peels are not recommended for most
patients with very dark skin tones.
is a facial chemical peel performed?
cleansing your treatment areas, your surgeon will apply a chemical
solution. You should feel a slight burning sensation as it is
applied, however, this will quickly pass because the solution
also acts as a mild anesthetic. The chemical solution "peels" away
your top layers of skin, which reveals new, fresher and smoother
skin. Depending on the results your desire and the condition
of your skin, your surgeon will perform a light, medium or deep
long does a facial chemical peel take?
light peel usually only takes about 10 minutes to complete. To
achieve your desired results, further peels may need to be scheduled
at regular intervals. Medium peels normally take about 15 minutes
to treat the entire face. Two or more peels spaced over several
months may be required to achieve your goal. Full-face Phenol
peels take approximately one to two hours, but small-area phenol
peels (such as on the upper lip) may take about 10 - 15 minutes.
type of anesthesia is used?
is not required for medium and deep peels because the chemical
solution used also acts as an anesthetic. No anesthesia is used
for light peels because the chemical used results in only a light
stinging sensation. For all chemical peels a light sedative can
be used to help relax you prior to and during your procedure.
is the procedure performed?
AHA peels are performed in the doctor's office. TCA peels may
be performed in the doctor's office or in an outpatient surgery
center. Phenol peels are typically performed in an outpatient
can I return home and resume normal activities?
peels are performed on an outpatient basis so you may return
home the same day.
a light peel you will experience temporary dryness, redness and
flaking. However, this will not prevent you from getting back
to your normal routines almost immediately. After two weeks you
should be able to wear makeup, which will help masque some of
the redness. With a medium peel you will experience some minor
discomfort and swelling that will subside after the first week.
After about ten days your new skin will be more evident and you
should be ready to resume you daily activities. A deep peel will
normally require that you wait about two weeks to get back to
most of your normal activities. At first your face will be very
red, gradually fading to a lighter pink over the following weeks
to months. You will experience greater swelling than with a medium
peel, and it will take about ten days for your new skin to start
do I prepare for a facial chemical peel?
your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes
that you would like to make to your appearance. Your surgeon
will evaluate your skin type, skin condition and the severity
of any discolorations, wrinkling, scarring, or age spots. This
will allow the surgeon to select the type of chemical peel that
is most appropriate for you. Since the appearance of your face
is a matter of personal perception and preference, you will need
to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can determine
the appropriate alternatives.
surgeon may recommend a pretreatment routine for you to follow.
A common pretreatment routine may include taking Retin A, which
is a prescription medication derived from Vitamin A. Retin A
thins your skin's surface layer, which allows chemical peel solutions
to penetrate more evenly. If you have blotchy skin, your surgeon
may prescribe a bleaching agent that is used in combination with
Retin A. On occasion, patients may spend a month in pretreatment
before their chemical peel procedure.
precautions are necessary during recovery?
recovery period for chemical peels varies depending on whether
you have a light, medium or deep peel. Keep in mind that the
deeper the peel procedure the more intense each aspect of your
recovery will be. For deep peels, you may have to wear bandages
over your treated area for a day or two. This normally isn't
necessary for light or medium peels. About a day after your procedure,
small flakes or scabs may form to protect your new skin. It's
important not to pick at these flakes because it could result
in scarring. In many cases they can be removed with soap and
water. Your surgeon also may advise you to apply a skin ointment,
cream or moisturizer after cleaning your skin. After these skin
flakes have fallen off, your new skin will begin to appear. It
will most likely be bright red (similar to a bad sunburn), dimming
to a lighter pink over time.
your new skin has grown in it will be lighter in color than before
your procedure. Because of this, you will need to protect your
skin from sun exposure by applying sun block lotions of at least
SPF 15 before going outside. While your new skin is healing,
you may experience abnormal itching, swelling or tingling. Your
surgeon will provide you with medications or directions on how
to use cold compresses to minimize this condition. With medium
and deep peels, you should refrain from strenuous activities
for two to three weeks. You also should wait this same length
of time before applying makeup. Your usual makeup could possibly
cause skin irritation, so your surgeon may recommend non-allergenic
are the possible complications after a facial chemical peel?
peels are normally a safe procedure when performed by an experienced,
board-certified plastic surgeon. However, as with any medical
procedure, chemical peels have some potential risks and complications
that you should be aware of. Though the occurrence is rare, any
peel can lead to uneven skin pigmentation, infection or scarring.
The greatest risk involves over exposure to the sun. Failure
to follow your surgeon's directions for protecting your skin
from the sun can result in uneven skin pigmentation and blotching.
Deep peels may pose special risks for patients with a history
of heart disease. It's very important to notify your surgeon
of any previous occurrence of heart ailments when he or she takes
your medical history.
Although chemical peels may be performed in conjunction with a facelift, they
are not intended to serve as a replacement for such procedures. Chemical peels
can provide you with younger, fresher and smoother skin; however they cannot
slow the aging process or the ultimate long-term effects old age can have on
the skin. It is always important to be informed about the possible complications
before any procedure. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your
results can I expect after a facial chemical peel?
results you obtain from a light peel will initially be very subtle.
At first you may detect a healthier glow to your skin. After
several treatments you should notice a smoother texture as well.
Medium peels will produce results that are more obvious and pronounced
than a light peel; however, they will not be as dramatic as a
deep peel. Overall, you should notice that your skin has become
much smoother and fresher looking. In most cases, maintaining
these results will require that you repeat your treatments over
a long period of time.
peels will provide you the most dramatic and long lasting results.
Following an extended recovery period you should have fewer wrinkles,
scars and blemishes and much improved skin tone. Keep in mind
that even extensive chemical peel treatments cannot overcome
the natural effects of routine sun exposure and aging. Every
woman's body chemistry is different and the long-term results
you can achieve with chemical peels will depend on your skin
type and individual circumstances. Make sure you speak openly
with your surgeon about your long-term goals and the chemical
procedure that is appropriate for your individual situation.