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Chemical Peel Complications

Chemical peel complications can range from minor irritations to permanent scarring. In very rare cases, chemical peel complications can be life-threatening. The strength of chemicals used increases the risk of chemical peel complications; the phenol chemical peels, for instance, have a very high risk of serious chemical peel complications, due to the strong acids involved.

The plastic surgeon should outline the various chemical peel complications possible with each level of treatment. For example, with an AHA peel, chemical peel complications are relatively minor, including stinging, redness and irritation and should disappear within a few days. Chemical peel complications for all levels of peeling include risk of infection and scarring, with the chances for these chemical peel complications much higher in the phenol treatments. Phenol also presents its own potential chemical peel complications, as it is known to permanently change the pigmentation of treated skin. Possible chemical peel complications from phenol include extreme sun sensitivity, removal of freckles, and noticeable color differences after treatment. Chemical peel complications from phenol can also be life-threatening; special risks exist for heart patients.

Chemical peel complications should be fully discussed with the plastic surgeon prior to treatment. Patients should understand that chemical peel complications vary in seriousness, and that some patients are at a much higher risk for chemical peel complications due to their skin type, medical needs, age, and type of chemical peel selected.