Chemical peels are superficial procedures to remove surface layers of skin, revealing smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin. Chemical peels can help fade brown spots and an uneven skin tone from sun damage, help fade brown or red discoloration from past breakouts, and generally make the skin’s surface look fresher and younger. Having peels done on a regular basis (say, every 6-8 weeks) will lead to collagen stimulation that improves the appearance of wrinkles.
Our peels come in three different depths that are customized based on patient’s skin type. Depending on skin sensitivity and which peel the patient chooses, after effects may include a “sunburned” appearance, dryness, and peeling skin.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Chemical Peels that can help you feel more prepared for your appointment:
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a treatment designed to improve the skin's appearance using specially formulated chemical solutions applied to the skin's surface to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, lines and scars so skin looks and feels smoother and skin tone is more consistent. The chemical solutions cause the upper layers of skin to slough off during the days and weeks following treatment, revealing smoother skin underneath.
What conditions can be treated with chemical peels?
Chemical peels have been used for more than 50 years to treat an array of cosmetic concerns, including:
- Lines and creases
- Shallow wrinkles
- Sun damage
- Some types of acne
- Mild scarring
- pigmentation irregularities including freckles, sun spots, age spots, and other dark spots and patches
Chemical peels can also be used to treat areas of the skin where precancerous lesions have appeared to help reduce the risk of future lesions. Deeper wrinkles and skin laxity generally cannot be treated with chemical peels but require other approaches to resolve.
What happens during a chemical peel treatment?
Prior to a peel, some patients may be instructed to prepare their skin using a special topical agent so the peel is more effective. Peels are performed in the office on an outpatient basis. During treatment, the skin is cleansed to remove excess oil and surface debris and the eyes and hair are covered to keep them protected. The chemical solution is applied and allowed to remain on the skin for a specific period of time before being neutralized and washed off. Once the solution is removed, cool compresses can be applied to soothe skin. The type of chemical used and the length of treatment will determine the depth of the peel and the final results. Many peels can be performed in under a half hour.
How will I feel afterward?
Chemical peels can cause some mild redness similar to a mild sunburn. Mild peels result in redness and mild flaking that can last for up to a week. Medium and deep peels cause more redness accompanied by crusting and moderate swelling that can last for up to two weeks.
These are light depth peels that are beneficial for patients with mild skin imperfections. Glycolic acid peels and SkinMedica Illuminize peels remove the top layer of dead cells on your skin, revealing a new layer that is smoother-textured and more vibrant-looking. These peels help with minor skin discolorations (such as “age” spots), and dry patches known as solar keratoses.
While all three types of peels can be used for treating acne and for removing or minimizing old acne scars, salicylic acid peels are the preferred option for oily, acne prone skin. This is due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to penetrate oil, making it a good peeling agent for blemish-prone skin with blackheads. Aftereffects typically consist of dry, mildly flaking skin for 1-2 weeks.
Using a higher concentration of salicylic acid, lactic acid, as well as retinol, these chemical peels are effective for moderate to severe skin imperfections, such as fine lines, acne, and skin discoloration caused by sun damage or from past breakouts.
Expect sensitivity and significant shedding of the skin, similar to peeling from a bad sunburn. Most experience skin peeling that starts about two days after the peel procedure and resolves within 5-7 days after the procedure.
Retinol products and prescription retinoids, such as Retin-A (Tretinoin), Renova, Differin, or Tazorac
Products containing hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), or benzoyl peroxide
Any exfoliating products that might be drying or irritating