Chemical Peels for Wrinkles

Chemical peels improve the appearance of wrinkled 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.

What you should know about chemical peels for wrinkles

The practitioner who performs your peel will first cleanse your skin thoroughly. Next one or more chemical solutions will be applied to the skin. These solutions include glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid and carbolic acid. The process creates a controlled wound, allowing new skin to grow in place of the wrinkled skin.

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.

Before (top) & after (bottom): Three & four months after phenol-croton oil deep chemical peel for perioral lines.

Photo courtesy of Harold J. Brody, MD, Atlanta, Georgia

Before (top) & four months after (bottom) phenol-croton oil deep chemical peel.

Photo courtesy of Harold J. Brody, MD, Atlanta, Georgia

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  •    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

Why choose chemical peels for wrinkles?

Chemical peel procedures typically are used on the face, neck and hands. Fair-skinned and light-haired patients are better candidates for the procedure. The procedure is non-surgical and can be performed in a doctor’s office.


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.

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 wrinkled 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.