Chemical Peels

Before laser treatments for skin wrinkling, pigmentation, discolorations or sun damage there were chemical peels. The use of chemical peels has been a long-standing and effective therapy to help reduce fine lines, brown spots and improve the texture of the skin. Dr. Scott Shadfar often uses chemical peels as a complement to other surgical procedures such as blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and rhytidectomy (facelift), which is safe when directed by a board-certified facial plastic surgeon.

The Technique

Chemical peels can be performed using topical anesthetic, sedation or a general anesthetic on an outpatient basis. The skin is prepared by removing all oils from the surface, and a combination of chemicals are applied to the skin. There are several variations in the composition of chemical peels and Dr. Shadfar will tailor each peel to the appropriate depth needed to obtain a natural and effective result.

The Recovery

The amount of downtime associated with chemical peels will depend on the depth of treatment. More superficial peels have minimal downtime of about 24 hrs. Medium depth chemical peel patients can expect 5-7 days of recovery, while deep chemical peel patients will have 8-12 days of downtime, followed by several weeks of pink-red skin coloration as the skin heals. For medium and deep chemical peel patients, Dr. Shadfar will see the patient in clinic the morning after the surgery, and check all treated areas. Dependent on the depth of treatment, the patient may experience tightness to the face, skin discomfort similar to a sunburn, as well as facial swelling. The patient will use cool compresses, keep the head elevated, and continue with meticulous local wound care measures until the skin has completely healed. We ask those patients traveling from out of town to stay for routine checks during this 1-2 week time period.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which skin conditions can a chemical peel improve?

A chemical peel is a mix of different concentrations and solutions designed to allow separation and peeling of the skin’s outer layers in order to encourage the growth of new skin underneath. As a result, the treatment can address a wide range of aesthetic concerns existing on the surface of the skin. Depending on the type of chemical peel used, it can be used to eliminate sun damage, lighten hyperpigmentation and acne scars, diminish signs of aging, and improve the overall texture and tone of an individual’s complexion.

What is the difference between superficial, medium, and deep chemical peels?

Depending on the extent of a patient’s skin condition or dermal imperfection, the depth of a chemical peel can be customized according to individual need. Superficial chemical peels reach the layers of the skin closest to the surface and are ideal for sensitive skin types. They are generally considered safe and effective for all variances of skin, and provide more conservative exfoliation when compared to medium and deep peels.

Medium chemical peels typically provide exceptional results for mild wrinkles, sun damage, and/or other moderate concerns. Capable of reaching deeper layers of skin than a superficial peel, this treatment generally requires three to five days of downtime. Deep chemical peels reach the innermost dermal layers of the skin and can be very effective for treating more extensive sun damage, wrinkle formation, acne, hyperpigmentation, and more. Deep peels usually necessitate seven to ten days of downtime, with a longer period of post-treatment redness in the area of concern when compared to medium peels; however, results from a deep chemical peel can be long-lasting, enduring for years in some cases.

Who is a candidate for chemical peels?

Chemical peels can be applied to a range of different skin types with the applicable cosmetic concerns. Depending on the type of peel utilized, a patient may not benefit from a chemical peel if they:

  • Have a history of abnormal skin scarring
  • Have used certain acne treatments in the last year
  • Have a naturally darker skin tone, as this can lead to additional hyperpigmentation
  • Have a tendency to develop extra pigmentation around scars

Dr. Shadfar can examine an individual’s unique skin tissue and medical history to determine whether they are an ideal candidate for a chemical peel. Those whose skin does not respond well to chemical solutions may benefit from a number of other treatments, such as laser skin resurfacing— a non-invasive procedure that can achieve comparable results to a chemical peel, including diminished signs of aging, reduced sun damage, and improved hyperpigmentation.  

What will I look like after treatment?

Immediately following chemical peel therapy, the treated skin may look slightly red. Depending on the depth of your chemical peel, the post-treatment redness is comparable to a mild sunburn and should diminish as the skin continues to heal. Individuals may notice a gradual peeling and flaking of their skin as the surface layers of the dermis are separated and new skin is regenerated. After the peeling and recovery period, patients generally report an overall improved texture and appearance of their skin for a smoother, more radiant, and rejuvenated complexion.