Chemical peels

Chemical peels

Chris Schach

Author Bio -


* Chemical peels are administered to peel away skin cells on the face. Superficial Chemical peels are used to treat sun-damaged skin, while deeper peels treat blotchy skin, sun spots, and freckling.  They can help stimulate new collagen formation making the skin look healthier.

Chemical peels are usually applied by a nurse, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon to the patient's face (or sometimes other places, like hands).  They peel off damaged cells, often caused by exposure to the sun, and help remove lines or wrinkles, or unsightly pigmentation, like freckles. The chemical peel itself removes the top few layers of skin, revealing the fresher skin. Peels may also stimulate new collagen, which improves skin texture. Superficial peels can be repeated every few weeks, although peels with more depth - usually conducted by dermatologists or plastic surgeons - should only be repeated every few months.

There are several types of Chemical peels. Glycolic acid, Salicylic acid and Jessner peels are more superficial; they remove small lesions on the skin's surface and reduced dryness, although it often takes several of these peels to see significant improvement.

For deeper Chemical peels, Trichloracetic acid is often used, although it is painful and leaves treated areas swollen, red and crusty for up to a week. Trichloracetic acid is ideal for treating blotchy skin, freckling, and sun spots. It may also have a positive effect on fine lines and Acne scars.

For deep skin injuries, phenol can be used, although it is rare because of the risk for scarring, nerve damage, and heart rhythm disturbance. It is, however, effective in reducing wrinkles and deep furrows. The skin that remains will be smooth and pale, but it will also be waxy.


Before Chemical peels are administered, exfoliating cream is often used nightly for several weeks leading up to the chemical peel, which not only improves results from chemical peeling and decreases the risk for injury to the skin, but it helps to reduce skin pigmentation in and of itself. Creams with alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, or Hydroquinone are used, depending on the skin tone.

While superficial peels are minor, painkillers, sedation or anesthesia (local or general) may be necessary for deeper Chemical peels. The peel is applied to the face and allowed to remain for several minutes before the chemical agent is neutralized. It will sting, though how badly will depend on the depth of the chemical peel. Once the chemical agent is neutralized, the stinging will begin to lessen.

Afterwards, if its a superficial peel, it will feel similar to a sunburn and may last for up to 48 hours. For deeper peels, swelling may last as long as a week, and redness may last for several weeks. Time off from work is likely necessary for deeper peels.

Side Effects

There are no side effects, but complications may include Acne, infection, scarring, blotchy pigmentation, and/or solar keratoses.

Notes of Precaution

After Chemical peels, follow your doctors recommendations closely.   Keep the face cool -- spray with water mist, if possible. Don't pick at the skin, moisturize with petroleum jelly or similar product often, and avoid the sun during the healing process.  Once the area has healed, use sunscreen to protect the delicate new skin