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chemical peel

  • Procedure Time:30 mins. - 3 hours
  • Recovery Time:Depends on type
  • Average Cost:$588
Tip:Women with Afro-Caribbean or Asian skin may not be good candidates—discuss with your surgeon.

Chemical Peel Overview

As we grow older many factors can take their toll on the fragile, exposed skin of our faces, necks, and hands. Sun damage, age, and acne can create discolorations, fine wrinkles, thickening, pitting, and scarring.

A chemical peel removes these damaged outer layers, revealing the fresher, newer, smoother skin beneath. It will not only remove old, dull skin cells, but will stimulate the production of new skin cells to create a more youthful, glowing appearance. 

This procedure is for you if…

If you want to improve the overall texture, color, and brightness of your skin, a chemical peel may be a good choice for you. Although it can’t treat deep facial lines, sagging skin, or very deep scars, it is an excellent option if you wish to:

  • Smooth scars caused by acne or other trauma
  • Lighten or remove freckles, age spots and other pigment problems
  • Remove or reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Remove rough, thickened, or scaly skin 

You can expect these results:

Depending on the strength of the chemical peel you have chosen, you can expect a range of results, from subtle to dramatic. Generally, your skin will look fresher and more youthful overall. Any variations in pigmentation will disappear or be reduced, so age spots, freckles, and other forms of sun damage will be much less noticeable. Fine wrinkles will also disappear as older, fatigued skin is replace by new skin that hasn’t been aged by exposure to the elements. The appearance of scars, including acne scars, will also diminish. 

What happens during a chemical peel? 

A chemical peel can be performed in a doctor's office or in a surgery center as an outpatient procedure. Your skin will be cleaned and disinfected, and then one or more chemical solutions will be applied to the area being treated and left to act on the skin for anywhere between 10 minutes to more than an hour. Once the desired result is achieved, the solution is rinsed off and neutralized. 

A light peel offers subtle improvements and can be repeated as often as once a month. You might feel a slight stinging sensation, but it will be very mild, and no pain-relievers are required.

During a medium peel, the treatment specialist may administer a pain reliever and an oral sedative to help you with any anxiety, stinging, or burning experienced during the procedure. A medium peel takes about 40 minutes, and any pain or discomfort will disappear once the exfoliant solution is neutralized. 

A deep peel offers the most dramatic results, but takes longer to perform and is more painful than lighter peels. You may be given an oral sedative, injected or intravenous pain relievers, or in some cases a general anesthesia. The procedure can take between 60 and 90 minutes in total. 

The recovery process 

Your recovery process will differ depending on the type of peel you undergo. For a light peel, you will be able to return to your normal activities immediately. Your skin may turn pink and peel slightly, but makeup will usually hide any redness.

For a medium peel, you may need to take a few days off work to recover. After the first week, you can camouflage any redness with makeup, and you may also experience some swelling, especially around the eyes.

A deep peel takes longer to recover from. In the first two weeks, your skin will peel and regenerate, and you should plan to take this time off work. After that, you’ll still appear red for up to two months.

For all types of chemical peel, it’s important to avoid sun exposure until the peeling has stopped, and to wear a 30+ SPF sunscreen to protect the new skin, which is extremely susceptible to sun damage. 

Understanding the risks

When performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, a chemical peel is generally a very safe procedure. There is a low risk of:

  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Temporary or permanent change in skin pigmentation
  • Reactivation of herpes (for people who are prone to cold sores) 
Did you know?
One of the earliest instances of chemical peels was the ancient Egyptian practice of bathing in goat milk, which contains lactic acid. Chemical peels were the third most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedure in 2010 (after Botox and dermal fillers). Different exfoliants work best for different conditions: AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) is good for acne, TCA (trichloroacetic acid) is good for age spots, and phenol is good for deep wrinkles



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