“Chemical peel” uses a chemical solution to smooth the texture of facial skin. There are currently three options available: alphahydroxy acids (AHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol.
Men and women choose chemical peels for cosmetic reasons. They can reduce or remove facial blemishes, acne scars, uneven skin tone and wrinkles. Chemical peels may also remove precancerous skin growths and even control acne.
Prior to procedure. During your consultation with your doctor, you will discuss what your expectations are and any medical conditions you may have. Your doctor may pretreat the skin with:
- Retin A or an AHA cream to thin out the skin
- Hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, if you have blotchy skin
You may also want to:
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure
- Arrange for help at home after the procedure
Anesthesia. Anesthesia is not required because the chemical solution acts as an anesthetic. However, sedation may be used before and during the chemical peel to relax you and keep you comfortable.
Description of the procedure.
- AHA peels: Your cosmetic surgeon will apply the AHA solution to your cleansed facial skin, a process that usually takes no more than ten minutes.
- Phenol and TCA peels: Typically, the skin is thoroughly cleansed. Then, your doctor will carefully apply the phenol or TCA solution. You may feel a stinging sensation as the peel solution is applied, but this feeling will quickly pass.
A full-face TCA peel usually takes no more than 15 minutes. Two or more TCA peels may be needed to obtain the desired result. These may be spaced out over several months. Mild TCA peels may be repeated as often as every month.
If phenol solution is used, your doctor may coat the treated area with petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape. With lighter chemical peels, no covering is necessary.
A full-face phenol peel generally takes one or two hours to perform, while a phenol peel to a smaller facial region (perhaps the skin above the upper lip) may take only 10 or 15 minutes.
Average hospital stay. This procedure may be done in the cosmetic surgery center. It may be possible to leave the hospital or surgery center on the same day of the chemical peel.
Postprocedure care. It is common to experience some temporary flaking, scaling, redness and dryness of the skin. In addition, your face may become extremely swollen and your eyes may become swollen shut.
- Your doctor may prescribe a mild pain medication.
- If tape was used to cover your face, it will be removed after a day or two.
- Scabbing may occur.
- You may be limited to a liquid diet.
- You may be advised to not talk often during the first days of recovery.
- Avoid direct sun exposure and wear sunblock.
- You may return to work after two weeks.
Chemical peels provided by a qualified experienced cosmetic surgeon are generally a safe procedure, but are not free of risk or complications. If you are planning to have a chemical peel, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Uneven pigment change
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
VISIT the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) site for more information on chemical peel. more >>