Facial Chemical Peel
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.
Chemical peels are categorized as light, medium and
deep, depending on the type of chemical agent used.
Alphahydroxy 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.
Medium 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.
Phenol 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.
How is a facial chemical peel performed?
After 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 peel.
How long does a facial chemical peel
A 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.
What type of anesthesia is used?
Anesthesia 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.
Where is the procedure performed?
Generally, 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 surgical center.
When can I return home and resume
Chemical peels are performed on an outpatient basis
so you may return home the same day.
After 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 emerging.
How do I prepare for a facial chemical
During 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.
Your 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.
What precautions are necessary during
The 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.
After 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
What are the possible complications
after a facial chemical peel?
Chemical 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 surgeon.
What results can I expect after a
facial chemical peel?
The 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.
Deep 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.
Choosing the right surgeon
To obtain further information regarding ear surgery,
we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced
board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type
of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose
the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive
a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your
area, simply fill out our Online
Referral Form or call Toll