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What is a Chemical Peel and How Does it Work?

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They come in varying levels of intensity to treat a range of skin issues, from texture problems and hyperpigmentation to fine lines and wrinkles. But just what is a chemical peel?


Chemical peels are skin-resurfacing treatments that can be tailored to the concerns of each patient. But what does a chemical peel do and how does it work? Below, we address these and all your other peel-related queries, so you can get one step closer to healthy skin.


What does a chemical peel do?

All chemical peels remove outer layers of the skin, though how many layers depends on the intensity of the peel. After a healing period, which also varies with the intensity level, skin is left feeling softer and smoother. Superficial issues such as acne or acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation should be improved, if not completely corrected. And because chemical peels sweep away complexion-dulling dead skin cells, they leave faces with a radiant glow.


How much does a chemical peel cost?

Chemical peel cost varies widely, depending on whether you get a light, medium, or deep peel. Light peels generally average about $150 to $400, but medical-grade peels performed in a physician office can run as much as $6,000


Are there different types?

There sure are. Peels are formulated as light, medium or deep chemical treatments, based on the chemicals used and how they are formulated. The treatment that's right for you will depend on what you're hoping to treat and how much downtime you're willing to endure.


What chemicals are in the peel?

Each peel is slightly different, and the exact formula will depend on the intensity level of the treatment. However, the most common chemicals used in peels are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and phenol. AHAs and BHAs are the lightest acids, often used in light chemical peels. TCA can be used in many different formulations.


Is there downtime?

Yes, but not all chemical peels require downtime. Light flaking, irritation, and peeling usually occur for a few days after light peels. It can take up to 2 weeks for skin to return to its normal appearance following a medium chemical peel. Skin may remain red in appearance for up to 2-3 weeks.


What are the expected results?

The results of chemical peels will vary for every patient and are dependent on the level of chemical peel, skin type, age, an issue we are trying to address.

That said, chemical peels are intended to improve the appearance of:

• Acne or acne scars

• Age and liver spots

• Fine lines and wrinkles

• Freckles

• Irregular skin pigmentation

• Rough skin and scaly patches

• Scars

• Sun-damaged skin


How do I know if I need a chemical peel vs. a different facial treatment?

Chemical peels are not for:

• Treat deep facial lines

• Tighten loose or sagging skin on large areas

• Remove broken capillaries

• Change pore size

• Remove deep scars


Can everyone get a chemical peel?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that you might not be a good candidate for chemical peel if you have:

• A history of abnormal skin scarring / keloids

• Abnormal pigmentation / vitiligo

• Afro-Caribbean or Asian skin

• Facial warts or open wounds or cancers

• Used certain acne treatments within the last year/ Accutane

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