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Chemical Peel FAQ

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel uses exfoliating solutions such as Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), Phenol, or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) to remove damaged or aged layers of skin to reveal the softer, more youthful skin underneath. There are three types of chemical peels:

-  Superficial peels - The mildest chemical peel that is safe for use on all skin types. Typically, superficial chemical peels use mild solutions such as glycolic acid or dry ice.

-  Medium peels "“ Harsher than superficial peels and cause a second-degree burn of the skin. Trichloroacetic acid is the common peeling agent used in medium peels.

-  Deep peels - The harshest chemical peel that penetrates through several layers of skin. Phenol is typically used for a deep peel. Deep peels may bleach the skin and should not be used on dark-skinned patients.

How should I prep my skin before the chemical peel?

Several weeks before your chemical peel procedure, you will need to prep your skin by cleansing it two times a day, applying a moisturizer once or twice daily, and applying sunscreen everyday. Prepping the skin before the procedure will help your skin peel more evenly, reduce the risk of infection and other complications such as uneven skin color, and amp the healing process after the peel. It is important to consult with your qualified cosmetic surgeon to determine your precise skin care regiment prior to a chemical peel.

How is a chemical peel performed?

Most chemical peel procedures begin with prepping the skin either with skin care treatments or with microdermabrasion. A licensed professional will scrub your skin and use a mild toner to remove any oils before gently applying layers of an acidic solution to peel away the aged surface of the skin. Depending on the procedure, the solution is left on your face for a certain period of time before the product is removed. Then your skin will be wiped clean and an antibacterial cream will be applied to help with comfort and healing.

What is the recovery time for a chemical peel?

Recovery time after a chemical peel is dependant on the type of peel. After a chemical peel procedure, your skin may feel tight or sunburned. The proper skin care regimen is important to speed up the healing process, enhance results, prevent infections, and skin color changes. Cleansing, moisturizing, using sunscreen are highly recommended after a chemical peel. Avoid sun exposure during the early healing period. In addition, do not attempt excessive facial expressions for a few days after the procedure, which can lead to tearing and bleeding of the skin. And do NOT peel off any loose skin, as this can result in scarring.

What are the risks of a chemical peel?

While side effects are rare, chemical peels are associated with some risk. Deeper peels generally increase the chances of side effects and complications including:

  • Redness "“ Some redness is expected after a peel, but severe redness may occur and last for several months
  • Hypo or hyperpigmentation "“ Skin discoloration resulting in darker or lighter patches around the treated areas
  • Swelling
  • Crusting or scaling of the skin
  • Scarring
  • Infection "“ People who have oral herpes are more prone to infection
  • Allergic reaction
  • Increased sunlight sensitivity
  • Heart, liver, or kidney failure "“ Rarely, phenol (deep) chemical peels can cause severe organ complications
What results should I expect?

The results of a chemical peel vary depending on the peel that you receive. A superficial peel only slightly reduces the signs of aging and skin damage and the results are minimal. Medium peels are effective in reducing signs of sun damage and fine wrinkles. A deep peel noticeably tightens the skin and eliminates wrinkles and the effects are commonly dramatic. Repeated deep peels are not recommended.

What are the costs of a chemical peel?

The cost of a chemical peel depends on the type of peel you receive, your geographical location, and who performs the procedure. Typically, mild chemical peels may cost between $150 to $300. Medium peels range from $1,000 to $2,000, and deep peels cost anywhere from $2,500 to $6,500.

How can I find a qualified cosmetic surgeon?

If you think a chemical peel is right for you, it is important to consult with a board certified cosmetic surgeon who specializes in facial procedures. An experienced board certified plastic surgeon will evaluate your needs to determine the best chemical peel procedure for you.