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Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC Blog

What Are Chemical Peels?

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 18, 2019 8:00:00 AM / by Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

What's the appeal of chemical peels? Well, if you suffer from unwanted and stubborn acne, or have visible signs of aging that you can't shake, you should consider consulting your dermatologist for a chemical peel. 

Our team from the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, will provide you with the ins and outs of our chemical peel procedure. Continue reading below for more reasons to get a chemical peel and other pertinent information to consider. 


A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that improves the appearance of the skin on your face, neck or hands. It is essentially a skin-resurfacing procedure that removes the top layer of your skin to regenerate a smoother and more youthful appearance - who wouldn't want that?


A chemical solution is applied to the skin, which causes it to exfoliate and then peel off. The new skin is softer and more rejuvenated compared to your old skin. The procedure is expected to range from 30 to 90 minutes. 

Chemical peels work at varying depths, depending on the desired result, from:

  • Light Peel (Superficial): Alpha-hydroxy acid or another mild acid is used to penetrate only the outer layer of the skin to exfoliate it gently. This treatment is used to enhance the appearance of sparse skin discoloration and rough skin and to revitalize your treated area.
  • Medium Peel: Glycolic or trichloroacetic acid is applied to the outer and middle layers of skin. This removes damaged skin cells, as the treatment is used to correct age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, freckles and moderate skin discoloration. It also is used to smooth coarse skin and treat precancerous skin growths.
  • Deep Peel (not performed at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC due to the risks involved): Trichloroacetic acid or phenol is applied to deeply perforate the middle layer of skin, which removes damaged skin cells. The procedure is used on your face and performed once. It helps to remove moderate lines, age spots, freckles and shallow scars. Patients will see a drastic improvement in skin appearance. 


Of course, chemical peels come with a variety of benefits for you. Depending on your skincare aspirations, our team at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, will make sure you are getting the best treatment for your skin goals. 

Several benefits from chemical peels include:

  • Increased collagen production
  • Reduced pore size
  • Reduced excess surface oil


Chemical peels treat many skin problems from wrinkles, skin discoloration to scars and more. 

Peels are also used to treat:

Chemical Peels - DCSH
  • Acne scars
  • Age spots
  • Crow's feet
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Scars
  • Sun-damaged skin
  • Sagging skin
  • Wrinkles 


To know if you're a good fit for receiving a chemical peel, your dermatology office will do the following:

  • Review your medical history. Here, you will discuss any prior medical conditions you've endured, especially about the heart, kidney or liver. Discuss medications you're taking or have taken recently and any cosmetic procedures you've had done. Do ask questions and address any concerns or inquiries regarding our chemical peel procedure while you're speaking with your dermatologist. 
  • Perform a physical exam. Your dermatology office will inspect your skin and the area expected to be treated to determine which chemical peel will benefit you the best based on physical features, your skincare concerns and end-result goals. Generally speaking, light chemical peels can apply to all skin types. However, patients with darker skin types have a higher risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. There are less aggressive treatments for patients who have darker skin types that may be advised to reduce risks of hyperpigmentation. 

Who Is Not A Good Candidate For Chemical Peels

You may not be the right candidate for receiving a chemical peel treatment if you possess the following:

  • History of abnormal skin scarring
  • Naturally dark complexion or skin tone
  • Tendency to have extra pigmentation of your scars
  • Used specific acne treatments within the last year
  • Skin conditions or medications that make the skin more sensitive than normal


Before The Procedure

Before the procedure takes place, you must schedule a consultation with your dermatology office. A thorough evaluation is imperative before receiving a chemical peel. Here, your dermatology office will go over the specifics of your procedure and will ensure it's personal to you, your skin, specific needs and goals to be met.

You should discontinue the use of topical retinoids before the procedure due to the potential for an adverse reaction. Typically, a chemical peel is performed in a dermatology office. Before the process, your provider will clean your face and may cover your eyes and hair. 

Light Chemical Peel Procedure

During a light chemical peel, your dermatology office will use a brush, cotton ball, gauze or sponge to apply a chemical solution. From there, your skin will begin to whiten, and you may feel mild stinging while the solution is on your skin. Then a neutralizer will be applied to remove the solution.

Medium Chemical Peel Procedure

For a medium chemical peel, your dermatology office will use a brush, cotton ball, or gauze to apply a chemical solution. The use of glycolic acid may also be applied. From there, your skin will start to whiten. After a few minutes, your dermatology office will apply a cold compress to soothe the treated area. You may experience a stinging and burning sensation for up to 20-minutes. 

Deep Chemical Peel Procedure (not performed by the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC due to the risk involved)

When you receive a deep chemical peel, you are sedated. Your dermatologist will use a cotton-tipped applicator to rub phenol on your skin, and this will turn your skin white. The procedure is performed in 15-minute portions to limit skin exposure to the acid.

After The Procedure

Following your procedure, you can expect a minimum of waiting one month before your next peel. Recovery time differs depending on the type of chemical peel being used during treatment. It's important to follow your dermatologist's directions for cleansing, moisturizing and applying topical products. Your provider will go over the recovery process in-depth with you during your appointment. 

The frequency and number of peels you receive depend on multiple factors, which you and your doctor will determine. Additionally, practicing safe sun habits will prolong your results and the health of your skin. 


Recovery and downtime vary depending on which peel is applied to your skin. All peels do require follow-up care, see below: 

  • Light Peel: This peel requires one to seven days to heal. Treated skin will initially be red, and lotion should be applied until the area heals. Use sunscreen daily for extra skincare. You can wear makeup the day after your treatment. 
  • Medium Peel: This peel requires seven to 14 days to heal properly. Treated skin will be red and swollen at first, as the swelling worsens for the first 48 hours. Additional effects following treatment may include your eyelids to swell shut along with the formation of blisters. Skin crusts and peels off during this timeframe, as well. Skin must be soaked daily; then, the ointment should be applied. Antiviral medication should be taken for 10 to 14 days, along with the application of mild lotion or cream. A follow-up appointment should be made to monitor your progress. 
  • Deep Peel (not performed at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC due to the risk involved): This peel requires 14 to 21 days to heal. The treated area will be bandaged. Skin must be soaked for four to six times per day. For the first 14 days, the ointment must be applied to your treated area. Additionally, a thick moisturizer is applied for the next 14 days. Antiviral medication should also be used for 10 to 14 days, along with mild lotion or cream. You should schedule multiple follow-up appointments to monitor your treatment. 

Important note - Sun exposure and smoking after a chemical peel needs to be avoided. They can cause unwanted and prolonged side effects, including infection and scarring. 


When conducted by a dermatology office, chemical peels are exceptionally safe. It's essential to follow your provider's instructions carefully to get the most out of your procedure and avoid additional side effects. 

A chemical peel can cause a handful of side effects and risks, including:

  • Redness: This is normal in the healing process from chemical peels, involving redness of the treated area. 
  • Scarring: It is rare for chemical peels to cause scarring; however, if you do experience this, antibiotics and steroid medications can soften the appearance of scars. 
  • Changes in skin color: Either temporary or permanent change in skin color may take place, especially for women on birth control pills. Darkening of the skin or loss of skin color can occur after chemical peels. Changes in skin color are seen to be more common in people who have a darker skin complexion. 
  • Infection: A chemical peel can produce a virus that causes cold sores.
  • Heart, liver or kidney damage: A deep chemical peel uses phenol. This ingredient causes damage to the heart and makes it beat irregularly. Phenol can also harm the kidneys and liver. 

Contact your dermatologist if you experience side effects and they worsen. At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we are here for you every step of the way, so don't hesitate to call us with additional questions, comments or concerns. 


We perform many minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures, including:

Call today to schedule your consultation: 304-598-3888

Topics: Cosmetic Procedures, acne treatment, chemical peels

Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Written by Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Our priority is to deliver complete, compassionate care to our patients while educating and assisting them as they make care decisions regarding the health and beauty of their skin.