A chemical peel is a skin rejuvenation treatment that uses a topical chemical solution to promote exfoliation of the top layer of skin so that it peels away. Once the peeling process is complete, a fresh layer of skin that looks brighter and feels softer is revealed. At Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center, the treatment is most commonly used on the faces of our patients, but it can also be applied to the neck, chest or hands. A chemical peel is a safe and effective treatment and is used to treat a number of skin conditions such as acne, wrinkles, discoloration, rough texture, pigmentation, and other irregularities. Chemical peels are applied in varying strengths depending on the patient’s aesthetic goals. The team of medical professionals perform chemical peels at most of our offices.

Types of Chemical Peels

There are several types of chemical peels offered by our dermatology office. The strength used will be determined based on the skin condition of the patient, as well as the aesthetic goals and desired downtime. Our dermatology office offers the following peels:

  • Superficial/Light Peel: This is the mildest chemical peel. It is performed in a matter of minutes with little to no downtime or peeling. During this peel, only the top layer of skin is removed, which causes the skin to immediately look smoother, more even toned, and brighter. These peels are usually comprised of alpha hydroxyl or beta hydroxyl acid, along with salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid. Usually, multiple treatments are recommended to get the best possible results.
  • Medium Depth Peel: This peel goes deeper than a light peel and therefore, provides more dramatic results. This particular peel is usually derived from Trichloroacetic acid (known as TCA); it is a type of acid that penetrates deeper into the skin. A medium depth peel is used to treat hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and sun damage. Since the peel goes deeper, a patient can expect a longer recovery period and should plan ahead since the face can be swollen, itchy and red for several days following the treatment.
  • Deep Peel: This is the strongest chemical peel and is used for deep scarring, excessive wrinkles, and more serious skin irregularities. While these peels promise the most dramatic results, a patient can be quite shocked by his or her appearance immediately following the procedure. High-strength TCA or carbolic acid, or phenol, is used to penetrate the deeper layers of skin. Following the peel, the skin will be intensely red comparable to a severe sunburn. Peeling can occur and the downtime could last 10 days, or longer.

What to expect

Regardless of the type of peel used, the overall procedure is similar. The skin will be cleansed thoroughly and the chemical solution will be applied to the face. This process takes just a few minutes. During a light peel, the skin will tingle during treatment. A medium peel will produce a bit more discomfort, and a deep peel may require a numbing agent. The differences between the peels are the type of solution used, the number of steps taken during the actual procedure, and the amount of solution that is applied. A soothing ointment will be applied to the skin after the treatment. In the days that follow, the skin will begin to naturally flake and peel away. Patients should avoid picking at the skin or trying to speed up the peeling process in any way as this can result in scarring. Patients should avoid sun exposure and keep their skin protected at all times.