What are chemical peels?

Chemical peels involve the use of an exfoliating chemical mixture that removes damaged or older layers of skin. The chemical mixture often includes one of three chemicals: alpha hydroxyl acid, trichloroacetic acid or phenol or a combination.

How are they performed?Doctors use one of three strengths to achieve the desired results. Mild peels, also called superficial peels, are safe for all skin types. Medium strength peels usually include trichloroacetic acid and create deeper exfoliation on the skin. Deep phenol peels are commonly not used on people with darker skin because they can end up bleaching the skin. The chemical peel is applied to the face in layers and left on the skin for the appropriate amount of time. After the peel is removed, the skin is cleansed and an antibacterial cream is applied.

How should I prepare my skin for the procedure?Prior to your appointment with the dermatologist, you will wash your face, apply sunscreen, and apply moisturizer at least once a day. This helps to ensure that the chemical peel works evenly on all areas of your skin. The doctor goes over the daily routine with you beforehand.

What are the risks?Risks during a chemical peel are rare. Deep chemical peels have more risks than a mild peel. The risks include allergic reaction to the ingredients, crusting of the skin, increased risk of sunburn, infection, organ failure, redness, scarring, skin discoloration, and swelling.

What should I expect following a chemical peel?Following a chemical peel, your skin may feel tight. You may look like you’ve had a bad sunburn. Try to avoid making facial expressions for a few days to prevent tearing or bleeding. Continue following the skincare regimen given to you by your dermatologist. Do not go out in the sun for a few days or peel off the loose skin. Let the skin fall off naturally or scarring may occur.

How noticeable are the results?The results depend on the level of chemical peel performed. Mild peels remove the superficial layers of skin, so minor changes are seen. Medium peels reduce fine lines and damage from the sun. Deep peels tighten the skin and eliminate deep wrinkles.