Chemical peeling is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin that is typically performed on the face, neck or hands. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to "blister" and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun.
Dermatologic surgeons have used various peeling agents for the last 50 years and are experts in performing multiple types of chemical peels. A thorough evaluation by a dermatologic surgeon is imperative before embarking upon a chemical peel.
What can a chemical peel do?
Chemical peeling is often used to treat fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth. Wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging and hereditary factors can often be reduced or even eliminated with this procedure. However, sags, bulges and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to peeling and may require other kinds of cosmetic surgical procedures such as a brow lift, eye lift or soft-tissue filler injection.
Mild scarring and certain types of acne also can be treated with chemical peels. In addition, pigmentation of the skin in the form of sun spots, age spots, freckles, splotching due to taking birth control pills and skin that is dull in texture and color may be improved with chemical peeling.
Chemical peeling may be combined with laser resurfacing, dermabrasion or soft-tissue fillers to achieve cost-effective skin rejuvenation customized to the needs of the individual patient. Areas of sun-damaged, precancerous keratoses or scaling patches may improve after chemical peeling. Following treatment, new lesions or patches are less likely to appear. Generally, fair-skinned and light-haired patients are ideal candidates for chemical peels. Darker skin types may also experience good results depending upon the type of skin problem encountered.
What to expect before the procedure
Before the procedure, you and your ASDS dermatologist should
discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. You also should:
Discuss your aging skin condition and your treatment goals
in order to determine the depth of chemical peel.Reveal any history of scarring, persistent cold scores or
facial X-rays.Avoid any medications or supplements that can affect blood
clotting – such as aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E – for 10 days before surgery.Avoid using medications such as Retin-A, Renova or glycolic
acid.Determine in advance whether you will need to have someone
drive you home following the procedure.
What to expect after the procedure
Afterward, patients experience a reaction similar to
sunburn in the treatment area. Patients may experience:
- Redness, followed by scaling within three to seven days.
- Blisters that will crust, turn brown and peel off within seven
to 14 days following medium and deep peels.
- Bandages over treated areas for several days.
- Chemical peel patients should avoid the sun for several
months following a procedure.
- Light peels may be repeated in one- to four-week intervals.
Medium-depth peels may be repeated every six to 12 months.
Find a doctor for your chemical peel treatment
Visit “Find a dermatologic surgeon” and choose “Chemical
Peels” from the dropdown menu. In 2013, ASDS dermatologists performed nearly 517,000 chemical
peel procedures, up from 414,000 in 2012. Because ASDS dermatologists are trained in a variety of the best and
latest techniques, they are the most qualified to evaluate and select the best
treatment choice based on the individual patient’s condition.