You have probably heard about chemical peels before. Maybe you have even wondered if a chemical peel would be right for you. Below we will answer some of the most common questions and concerns about chemical peels.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic treatment that uses an acid-based solution to improve the appearance of the skin. Peels are most often performed on the face, neck or hands.

During the procedure, chemical solutions are applied to the skin, causing the skin to exfoliate and the top layers to peel off. The new skin underneath is usually smoother, with less wrinkles, and has a visibly better complexion.

Peels speed up the skin’s natural process of sloughing off dead skin cells.

What Conditions Does a Chemical Peel Treat?

There are a number of conditions that a chemical peel can help treat or to improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Peels may be recommended for people with:

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Certain types of acne
  • Acne scars and other scarring
  • Sun damage, liver spots and freckles
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Uneven skin tone or redness
  • Rough or scaly skin
  • Precancerous scaly spots (actinic keratosis)
  • Melasma (dark patches) due to pregnancy or birth control pills

Keep in mind; this isn’t a complete list of everything a chemical peel may treat. A licensed esthetician can help you determine if a chemical peel is the best option for your skin type and concerns.

Types of Chemical Peels?

Chemical peels generally fall into three categories: superficial, medium, and deep.

  • Superficial Peels: These light, sometimes called “lunchtime”, peels use mild acids (like alpha-hydroxy acid) to only penetrate the outermost layer of skin to gently exfoliate. These are most often used for fine lines and wrinkles, acne, uneven skin coloring and sun damage.
  • Medium Peels: A medium peel uses stronger acids (trichloroacetic or glycolic acid) to remove the outermost and upper section of your middle skin layer. This peel is a good choice for fine-to-moderate wrinkles, acne scarring, age spots or moderately uneven skin discoloring.
  • Deep Peels: These peels penetrate to the lower middle layer of skin with acids like phenol or a more concentrated trichloroacetic acid. A deep peel may be a good choice if you have extensive sun damage, deep acne scars, moderate wrinkles or precancerous growths.

What Should I Expect?

Everyone wants to know what they can expect during a peel and how long it will take to recover.

Here’s a basic rundown of what you can expect:

  • Superficial Peel: There is little to no downtime with a light peel. Recovery can be within hours to a few days. There may be mild discomfort, a slight stinging sensation, while the solution is applied.
  • Medium Peel: Recovery for a medium peel may take a week or more and might require some downtime. You may feel stinging or burning for up to 20 minutes and your doctor or esthetician may apply a cool compress to the skin or give you a handheld fan to cool off the skin.
  • Deep Peel: A deep peel will require sedation and has significant downtime. Recovery time is dependent on how quickly your skin recovers, but it is often a few weeks. This peel is a one-time only peel if applied to the face.

What are the Risks and Possible Side Effects?

Chemical peels are exceptionally safe if conducted by a certified professional, but there are some risks and possible side effects you should be aware of.

  • Infections: Infections are rare, particularly if you are using the topical lotions and/or medication prescribed to you after your treatment. Some people with herpes simplex may experience a flare up following treatment.
  • Scarring: There is a low risk of scarring, especially in those prone to scarring. If this does occur, it can be treated.
  • Heart, liver, or kidney damage: Though extremely rare, the phenol used in some deep peels can cause damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Is a Chemical Peel Right for You?

Now that you are more familiar with chemical peels, you may still be wondering if a chemical peel is right for you and what type. Contact us for a consultation today to find out what options are available and how we can personalize your skincare!

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