Clear Up Your Skin With Chemical Peels

Chemical Peel

One common method used to reduce and remove wrinkles, scars, lines and some types of sun damage is with chemical peels. For people with facial skin problems, chemical peels can be a non-surgical alternative to having a face lift. Chemical peels can be used on other areas of the body as well, such as the neck, chest, arms, legs and hands.

Types of Chemical Peels

Although cosmetic doctors and dermatologists perform several different types of chemical peels, they mostly either consist of carbolic acid (Phenol), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA) according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Depending on the type of skin problem to be treated, either a light, medium or deep chemical peel will be used. Light and medium peels are best for patients who have minimal lines and scars, slight sun damage or not a lot of wrinkles. A deep chemical peels is used more for people with deep wrinkles, more sever scarring or darker age spots. Light peels can be performed in a licensed dermatologist's office but a deep chemical peel should be performed in a hospital by an experienced cosmetic surgeon.

What it Does

Chemical peels smooth out the skin and help remove lines, wrinkles and scars by removing the top skin layers. If you're only having a light peel done, you probably won't have to have any type of anesthesia. When the chemical mixture is applied to you face or wherever you are having the peel done, it may feel warm, tingle or even sting a little bit. The solution will remain on your skin for a few minutes, then it is removed along with the outer layer of damaged skin. It should only take 15 to 20 minutes for one application. 

A deep chemical peel will take longer and because more layers of skin are removed, you will be given anesthesia. 

It takes am experienced dermatologist to apply the correct strength and amount of chemical peel solution for each patient, so don't be afraid to ask for references and even before and after pictures of previous patients if available.


After your chemical peel, you can expect to have one to two weeks of recovery time for your skin and possibly three weeks with a deep peel. You can resume normal activities almost immediately but will need to avoid sun exposure. You will have to use a sunscreen of SPF 20 or more anytime you are outside for the next couple of weeks. You should also avoid wearing any makeup. Your dermatologist will tell you how to care for you skin as it heals.

What to watch out for after a chemical peel

Because chemical peels remove the top layers of skin to promote the growth of new, younger looking skin, you can have some reactions to the treatment. Your skin type and individual healing response will determine how your skin reacts to the procedure. With a light peel, many patients only experience some redness and peeling. A deep chemical peel can cause symptoms similar to a bad sunburn though. You could have more severe peeling and even blisters. If you experience a bad reaction to the peel, contact your dermatologist or doctor for further treatment and after care as it could cause scarring. He or she can give creams or steroids to treat the reaction.