What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a popular nonsurgical cosmetic procedure used to peel away the skin’s top layer to improve sun-damaged, unevenly pigmented and wrinkled skin. Improving the evenness of color and texture in your skin creates a youthful look and restores a healthy, luminous and radiant appearance.

Although chemical peels are used mostly on the face, they can also be used to improve the skin on your neck and hands.

Who is it for?

The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider a chemical peel:

  • You have sun-damaged skin
  • You have significant facial wrinkling
  • Your skin color is uneven with blotchiness, sunspots and brown spots
  • You have scars that have made the surface of your skin uneven
  • You have certain precancerous skin growths

Pre-op essentials

Depending on the depth of your chemical peel treatment, you may be placed on a pre-treatment program during which you will apply special creams, lotions or gels to your skin for a few weeks or longer.

If you have a history of herpes infections around your mouth, your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication before and after treatment to prevent viral infection. You may also be given certain oral medications that you should begin taking prior to your treatment.

In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:

  • Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing the chemical peel to promote better healing.
  • Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
  • Regardless of the type of treatment to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.

What to expect during treatment

Light to Medium Peels

A light or medium chemical peels is often performed in an outpatient setting. Generally the procedure takes about 30 minutes to an hour. No sedation or anesthesia is needed.

Deep Chemical Peels

A deep chemical peel may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Most chemical peel procedures take at least 30 minutes to two hours to complete but may take longer.

  • Medications are administered for your comfort during the procedure.
  • Depending on the type of chemical peel chosen and the area treated, local anesthesia may be adequate; however, for larger areas, sedation or general anesthesia may be recommended.
  • For your safety during the treatment, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
  • Your surgeon will follow the treatment plan discussed with you.
  • After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored.

After Treatment

  • For deep peels, your treated skin may be covered with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment and, in some cases, dressings may be applied.
  • You may have some pain, particularly with the deeper peels. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact us immediately.
  • You will also have some redness and swelling after treatment. Contact us to find out if your pain, redness and swelling are normal or a sign of a problem.

Limitations and Risks

All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
  • Infection and bleeding
  • Changes in sensation
  • Scarring
  • Allergic reactions
  • Damage to underlying structures
  • Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures.

You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your eyelid surgery.

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