Are Chemical Peels a Good Idea?

Chemical peels are a type of cosmetic procedures that is used to address multiple concerns: the treatment of acne scars, wrinkles and uneven skin tone; or as part of regular skin care. If you are considering a chemical peel for your face, hands, or neck, you should understand as much as possible before making your decision. This can be an excellent procedure to improve your appearance but should only be performed by a dermatology or licensed skin care practitioner.

What are Chemical Peels?

A chemical facial peel is a medical procedure where a chemical is applied to the face or neck. It causes the skin to peel and in turn remove one or more layers of skin, causing new skin to develop.

A medical peel is performed in a dermatologist’s or licensed skin care practitioner’s office. The chemical is an acid, much stronger than the peel you can buy in the local pharmacy. The acid works by exfoliating one or more layers of skin. This skin will literally peel away to reveal fresh new skin cells.

How long a chemical peel takes depends on the type of peel. There are three types of peels: superficial, medium depth, and deep depth chemical peels. You may see results from a superficial peel in one day while the medium and deep depth peels can take anywhere from 5-10 days for recovery.

Who Should Get Chemical Peels?

If you have skin conditions that affect your appearance, getting a chemical peel may be a solution for you. It can improve:

  • sun damage
  • crow’s feet
  • fine lines
  • deep wrinkles
  • acne scarring
  • pigmentation
  • scars from injuries
  • redness or uneven skin
  • uneven skin tone

These conditions may be on your face, hands, or neck and can appear on any skin tone. The amount of correction depends on the peel as a deep peels provides stronger results with a longer downtime. Your dermatologist will help you determine which peel is right for your condition.

Types of Peels

Superficial Peel

Superficial chemical peels, sometimes called lunchtime peels, are used to treat minor skin conditions, including:

  • large pores
  • sun damage
  • fine lines
  • wrinkles
  • dark spots

These peels may also help to tighten loose skin on the neck. Superficial peels use chemical acids such as salicylic acid, alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and glycolic acid. These acids are light and only affect the outermost layer of skin. The advantage of a superficial peel is little to no downtime or side effects. Redness typically subsides in less than half an hour with some flaking and dry skin for one to two days. You can repeat this peel every one to four weeks until you are satisfied with the results.

Medium Peel & Deep Peel

Medium or deep peels both require longer downtime. These peels go through stages of blistering, cracking, and changing colors before peeling. A deep chemical peel may require you take antiviral medication in order to prevent any infection during the healing process.

Medium and deep chemical peels use stronger acids to reach the middle and outer skin layer. A medium-depth peel procedure must be done in a dermatology office due to the chemical concentration. Due to the strength of the acid and the depth of skin cells reached, more severe skin damage can be treated:

  • dark eye circles
  • sun damage
  • sunspots
  • photodamage
  • acne scars
  • crepey eye skin

During recovery, you will be monitored by your dermatologist. Your skin should not be painful but it will be red and raw. You will need to use an ointment to treat the area every day during the healing process. While this peel is more invasive and requires longer to heal, it reaches more damaged cells and may provide better results than the superficial peel.

Final results post procedure may takes weeks to develop and vary from person to person. While you may get stronger results with a deep chemical peel, your recovery time is longer- lasting from five to 14 days.

While all skin tones can exhibit this type of damage, deep skin peels are not recommended for darker skin tones and certain skin types due to the possibility of scarring or hyperpigmentation.

How Are Peels Performed?

When you go in for a chemical peel, your doctor will clean your face, even if you have no makeup on. This is to make sure your face has no oils or dirt that could cause infection and prevent the acid solution from reaching the intended layers.

Your doctor will apply a barrier to the parts of your skin that should not have the treatment, such as around your nose and mouth and very near the eyes. Next, the doctor will put the acid on the predetermined areas. During a mild peel, there is no need to neutralize the acid, it stops working on its own. Medium and deep peels require acid at predetermined times to stop the process.

After the acid is removed, your dermatologist will apply ointment and sunscreen to your face. Medium and deep peels may require bandages in some areas. Your doctor will make that decision. You will be given discharge directions on when to apply ointment, the use of sunscreen to prevent damage, and when to resume normal face cleansing and makeup.

Do Home Peels Work?

Home peels do have some benefits. While you cannot expect to get the same results that you would from a dermatologist, you will see some skin tightening and brighter skin.

If you are considering a chemical peel and wonder if you are a good candidate, you should consult a dermatology practitioner. You can go over the various peels, possible outcomes and get answers to any questions you might have.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Insider info on monthly specials, new physicians, services or locations