Chemical Peel Frequently Asked Questions
The following FAQs are provided to help answer any questions you may have regarding your facial experience. If you have questions not addressed on our FAQ listing, please do not hesitate to contact me as I want to ensure that all of your questions are answered accurately.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is an acid solution that is applied to the skin. It dissolves the outermost layer of skin cells, which then peels off over the following days to reveal the fresher, younger layer below. Peels are very effective in treating a large range of skin concerns such as aging, sun damage, acne, mild scarring, improving skin brightness, and evening skin tone.
Peels can be light, moderate or deep. Light peels require no down time from work and your normal activities. Moderate peels may require a few days, and deep peels can require a week or more of down time to allow the skin to fully heal. Estheticians who are not working in a medical setting perform light to moderate peels only. Deep peels can only be performed by a physician, or under a physician’s supervision, for your safety.
What Conditions Do Chemical Peels Treat?
Chemical peels have been proven to:
Improve appearance and texture of skin
Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
Treat acne scars and pigmentation from acne blemishes
Reduce acne breakouts, smooth acne-prone skin
Reduce age spots, sun spots, and dark spots from pregnancy and birth control pills (melasma)
How should I prepare for a chemical peel?
For the best result, it is advisable to avoid sun exposure and the following products and procedures at least one week prior to treatment:
Treatments: Electrolysis, waxing, delapitory creams & products such as any Retin-A, Renova, Differin (Adapalene 0.1%) Taxorac. Any products containing retinol, glycolic acid, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
Any exfoliating product that may be drying or irritating.
Shaving the area to be peeled should be avoided on the day of the peel.
If you’re taking acne medication, Retin-A or Accutane, talk to me and/or doctor about stopping the medication before and during treatment to avoid complications. I can review any other contraindications with you prior to your treatment to determine if a chemical peel is right for you. Be sure to answer all questions honestly and completely on your consultation form prior to your peel.
What should I expect during a chemical peel?
The skin is cleansed and a prep solution will be applied to remove surface oils and allow the peel to penetrate the skin evenly. Any sensitive areas that cannot be treated will be protected with a thin film of petroleum jelly. Your eyes will be covered to protect them. One or more chemical mixtures will be applied, such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid (TCA), salicylic acid or lactic acid. The peel will be applied in 1–3 layers, depending on the depth of penetration intended. The acids react with the skin to produce a “controlled wound,” allowing fresh skin to regenerate and emerge. A tingling, burning or hot sensation is normal. Most peels remain on the skin only a few minutes, and are closely watched by me. A fan may help you stay more comfortable if needed. After some peels, a neutralizing solution is applied to stop the peel. Other peels are self-timed and stop on their own.
How will I take care of my skin after the procedure?
You may be more sensitive to the sun, so limit your sun exposure during the treatment time and for at least one week after the treatment. You should use daily sun protection with total UV protection of SPF 30 or higher, even if it is not sunny outside. Avoid strenuous exercise for at least 2-3 days, as the perspiration may irritate the skin. When washing your face, do not scrub. Use a gentle cleanser and avoid wearing foundation during the days when your skin is actually peeling. However, if you must wear makeup, mineral makeup will not adversely affect the skin. Do not “help” your skin to peel by picking at the peeling skin to avoid scarring or rashes. Do not have any other facial treatment for at least one week after your peeling is completed. You may resume use of Retin-A, alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) products or bleaching agents only after the peeling process is complete. I provide detailed post-peel instructions to our clients.
After most peels, the skin will be pink to red, and look shiny and tight. The skin will begin to flake or peel usually within 2–3 days after the treatment, unless you had a lactic acid peel—these encourage moisture retention and may not produce any actual peeling. Sun-damaged areas of your skin will appear darker at first, then will lighten. This is normal. To assist in removing the flaking skin, an enzyme peel is sometimes scheduled a week or so after the initial peel. For maximum results, a series of peels is usually recommended, and may be necessary for treating challenging issues such as hyperpigmentation.
How often can I receive Chemical Peel treatments?
Light Chemical exfoliations produce little or no peeling as it removes very superficial skin layers. Those peels can be received as a series of treatments as often as every week. The stronger the peel the longer the distance in between should be. The amount of chemical treatments you receive will depend upon your skin type, your discomfort level during the peeling process, how much your skin peels the first time, and the goals that you andI have agreed upon.
Who is NOT a Good Candidate for a Chemical Peel?
You may NOT be a candidate for a chemical peel if any of the following apply :
Infection or disease, especially if present on the area being treated
Cut or broken skin
Currently have an active Herpes simplex 1 sore (cold sore)
If you are nursing or pregnant
If you have taken Accutane in last 6 months
If you are unwilling to discontinue use of Retin-A or other prescription topical treatments 5 days prior to your peel, or are unwilling to use sunscreen daily