Chemical Peels: Everything You Need to Know

As we age, our skin develops fine lines, freckles, and age spots from wind, pollution, and sun exposure that often make us appear older than we are. We turn to all sorts of potions, lotions, and surgeries to fix our skin care woes. Chemical peels are one of the ways people often choose to fix the appearance of aging skin.

What is a Chemical Peel?

A chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that’s designed to smooth and improve the appearance of the skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne, and dark spots.

During a chemical peel, your doctor will clean the area that you’re having treated before applying a chemical solution to the skin, which encourages the top layer(s) of skin to blister. Eventually the damaged skin begins to flake off, and the new skin underneath emerges smoother and with less noticeable wrinkles, acne, or age spots.

Chemical peels are not a permanent solution, and how long the results of chemical peel lasts depends on the condition of your skin, your expectations, and what kind of peel you have done.

Different Kinds of Chemical Peels

There are many different kinds of chemical peels, depending on what you need. One of the most common and gentlest chemical peels uses glycolic acid. With a lower risk of side effects and faster recovery time, glycolic acid peels are often used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone, and decrease the appearance of age spots and freckles.

Some chemical peels, such as the trichloroacetic peel or TCA peel, use a chemical solution that causes skin cells to dry up in the area that it is applied to. Gradually, they flake off over a few days, revealing the new skin underneath. This type of chemical peel can be used to treat wrinkles and age spots. The TCA peel is considered a medium strength peel, and results are often more obvious than with lighter chemical peels like the glycolic acid peel.

One of the strongest chemical peels that many people choose is the Phenol Peel. This peel is used to treat deep lines and wrinkles, severely discolored skin, or severe acne scars. Also known as deep peels, these chemical peels will give you the most noticeable results, but they also take the most time for your skin to recover from.

Are Chemical Peels Right for You?

Although many people think that cosmetic procedures like chemical peels are only for older age groups, the truth is that sun spots, acne, and fine lines can affect people of any age. Chemical peels can be performed on the hands, face, and neck. Although most people are able to get face peels safely, not all peels are appropriate for all skin types.

While some milder chemical peels, like glycolic peels are safe for almost all skin types, others like the medium TCA peel or the deep cleansing Phenol peel tend to be suitable only for those with lighter skin tones.

Risks and Side Effects

Like all cosmetic or medical procedures, there are risks and side effects associated with chemical skin peels.

The most common side effect is redness and irritation of the skin. Some people may notice their skin becomes darker or lighter after a chemical peel – known as hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation, respectively.

These changes are sometimes permanent and are more common in people who have a darker skin tone. For this reason your doctor may not advise some chemical peels if you have a darker skin tone/natural pigmentation.


In order to keep your new skin looking good, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. With all chemical peels, it is important to protect the new skin from UV radiation and sun exposure. Apply sunscreen to the treated area to prevent sun-related damage, and moisturize regularly to prevent the new skin from going dry.

With medium chemical peels, the new skin may be sensitive to sun exposure for up to two months after the procedure. In addition to wearing sunscreen, it is important to protect the treated area by wearing a hat (if applicable) and trying to stay out of the sun whenever possible.

Deep peels, like phenol peels, will take the longest time to heal. Although the initial peeling and crusty skin may subside after two weeks, your skin may continue to be sensitive. Your doctor may prescribe topical ointments to help with this.

If you have any further questions about chemical peels or are looking to see if it’s the right treatment option for you, get in contact with Clinique Liposculpture today.

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