Chemical Peels for Aging Skin

Chemical peels improve the appearance of aging skin by using a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of old skin. The new skin that replaces it is usually smoother and less wrinkled in appearance. During the procedure, patients may experience a burning sensation lasting five to 10 minutes. Cold compresses may be applied to lessen the pain. Pain medication may be required for deeper peels.

Why choose chemical peels for aging skin

Chemical peel procedures typically are used on the face, neck and hands. Fair-skinned and light-haired patients are better candidates for the procedure. Chemical peels can be used to treat:

  • Fine lines around the mouth and under the eyes
  • Wrinkles
  • Mild scarring
  • Age spots
  • Sun damage
  • The overall look and feel of skin

Possible risks

  • Temporary or permanent change in skin color, particularly for women on birth control pills, who subsequently become pregnant or have a history of brownish facial discoloration.
  • Scarring.
  • Reactivation of cold sores.

How to prepare for 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. 
  • Swelling. 
  • 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.