Chemical Peels

Peels work on a simple premise. A chemical solution is applied to skin that is wrinkled, scarred, sun-damaged, or otherwise pigmented. This solution causes several of the top layers of skin to dry up and to peel off over a period of several days. When the old layer has peeled off, it exposes a new layer of undamaged skin which has a smoother, younger, more even-looking appearance.

Chemical peels are not a substitute for facelifts, but can improve the texture of the skin. Your cosmetic surgeon can discuss your individual circumstances and review the procedure and the peel he plans to use with you. It is important that you understand the procedure, so be sure to ask your surgeon any questions you may still have.

Chemical peels can enhance the appearance of facial and other skin on men and women of all ages. While chemical peeling is available to almost everyone, skin type and coloring are important considerations. The best candidates are usually those with fair, thin skin that has a tendency toward fine wrinkling or scarring on the face. Deeper chemical peels are usually not recommended for highly pigmented skin, such as Asian, black and Mediterranean, or oily, complexions.

This procedure will not prevent aging, however, chemical peels can erase, fade or reduce fine facial wrinkles and remove other surface imperfections. There are now several different types of chemical peels depending upon your particular condition. For certain types of scars and pits, dermabrasion, which uses a tool to "sand" the surface of the skin, may be suggested.

Chemical peels are a normally safe and popular way to treat facial wrinkling and fine scarring. Chemical peels can offer softer, smoother skin to those who never thought it was possible. Sedation before and after surgery is frequently used to keep you comfortable during the peeling operation.

Most peels, no matter the type, are performed in nearly the same way. The surgeon begins your peel by cleansing your skin to remove all oils, dirt and soap traces. Your hair will also be moved out of the way. Then, the chemical is carefully applied to the appropriate areas using a swab applicator. For some, this may be a full face peel, which would cover the entire face. Others may need a partial peel, such as around the mouth for those fine, vertical lines, the forehead for horizontal wrinkles, or on cheeks for fine wrinkles and age spots.

You will feel a light burning sensation that will subside and you will experience temporary throbbing. After the application, your surgeon may apply an ointment or for a deep peel, may apply a bandage mask. The entire procedure usually takes from 15 minutes to an hour depending upon the extent and type of peel used. 

A chemical peel is an aesthetic procedure performed to achieve better skin tone and to remove fine lines, especially on the face.  The chemical solution removes outer layers of skin which are damaged by age, sun, acne, wrinkles, or pigmentation problems.  Removing the outer skin prompts the body to generate a new layer of skin cells which are tainted by the previous skin condition.  Chemical peels may not be appropriate for darker skin complexions.

Reasons for Considering a Chemical Peel:

  • Reduce facial wrinkles and lines.
  • Improve sun-damaged skin.
  • Correct age spots and pigmentation problems.
  • Lighten scars (especially from acne).
  • Treat precancerous skin lesions.

General Procedure

At the time of your procedure, any active skin disease, infection, or acne needs to be under control in order to maximize results.  There are several different types of chemical solutions which can be used, ranging from a mild solution to a very strong one.  The surgeon will select what is best for the patient based on their skin condition, color, and desired result.

During the procedure, the skin is first cleansed of oils.  A solution is then carefully applied and is allowed to remain on the skin for a short time in order to remove the layers of damaged skin.  At this point, the skin will turn white, a frost-like effect.  The skin is then neutralized and cleansed.  Finally, an ointment is applied to the skin to aid in healing.

Recovery Process

Generally, post-operative instructions call for plenty of rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing process and recovery time.  An ointment and dressings are applied immediately following surgery to aid in the healing process and to minimize swelling.  The skin will have a pinkish color, and a thin crust may form over the area that was treated.  Patients sometimes report minor pain associated with the procedure, which can be treated effectively with oral medication.  While complications are rare, patients can minimize potential problems by carefully following the post-operative directions given by the surgeon.  Recovery time varies depending upon the extent of the chemical peel.