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Chemical Peel - Treatment, Procedure And Side Effects

What is the treatment?

A chemical peel can be described as an effective and least invasive method of improving the complexion and texture of the skin. It is particularly helpful in managing sun tans, blemishes, pimples and acne, and replenishing the appearance of the skin. In this treatment, a chemical which is chosen according to the skin type is applied on the skin. It also depends on the intensity of the problems and allergies of the patients, if any. It is kept for some time and then peeled off so that the flawless skin at the underlying layers manifests itself. The chemical peel is used all over the world and if you are struggling with the dullness of your facial skin, you can consider the treatment without any delay. Some ingredients can sink deep into the inner layers of the skin and the more they penetrate, the better the result. But before you decide to opt for the treatment, it is imperative to consult with a skin expert who can help you with the choice of the chemical, approach, setting realistic expectations and post-treatment care.

How is the treatment done?

At first, a chemical solution is applied to the skin making it blister and then it is peeled off. The resultant skin is much smoother without any fine lines and wrinkles as compared to the original skin. The expert would ask you questions regarding how you are feeling with the treatment. It is natural to feel some burning and tingling sensation as they mean that the treatment is working. You must not hesitate to communicate about how your skin feels during the treatment. Itching is also normal with chemical peel treatment. However, if you feel anything beyond your toleration, it must be notified to the expert without any delay. Some patients also report that the skin feels cold right after the application of the chemical while others feel a warmer sensation. Both of these two are absolutely normal unless they reach an extreme point or cause unbearable discomfort.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

The chemical peels can be done on the face, hands, or neck. You can consider the treatment option if you are willing to reduce fine lines and wrinkles on the skin, blemishes, and tans caused by sun exposure. It is also effective in reducing the appearance of mild scars and treating certain varieties of acne. If you are relatively healthy with no sensitivity to the chemicals used in the peeling, you can consider the treatment for reducing freckles and dark patches. Overall, the chemical peel treatment is suitable for all those who want to improve the look and texture of their skin.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Dark-skinned and dark-haired people may not respond well to the chemical peel treatment. Even though the treatment may work for dark-skinned people, it may cause uneven skin tone. If you have bulges, sagging in the skin and severe wrinkles, then the chemical peel treatment may not work well for you. The process is not recommended for those who suffer from infections, active skin issues, broken skin or sunburns, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis. Also, you must refrain from the treatment if you are nursing or pregnant as it might affect adversely.

Are there any side effects?

The side effects of chemical treatment include a permanent change in the colour of skin, especially for the women who have been taking birth control pills for a very long time. Also, the treatment can lead to undesired results for patients who have a history of brownish facial discolouration. The chemical peels can be painful at times and it makes the skin even more sensitive. Also, swelling, redness, and irritation are common with the chemical peel treatment, but it can subside with medications and application of gels and creams.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

After undergoing the chemical peel treatment, you must avoid sun exposure and smoking as they lead to undesired side effects. You must abide by the guidelines given by the doctor for staving off scarring and infection. If you have undergone superficial peels, you can wear makeup the following day but make sure you have used heavy moisturiser and sunscreen. But in the case of medium peels, you may have to wait for 7 days for wearing make-up. With deep peels, you must avoid sun exposure for at least 6 months and you would have to come for follow-up appointments with your skin expert.

How long does it take to recover?

There are three types of chemical peels and therefore, the time of recovery depends on the treatment you have undergone. If you have undergone superficial peels, then the recovery period is one week. You should apply creams and lotions until the skin heals. Medium peels take about 14 days for healing. It is natural for the skin to swell considerably for the first 48 hours. The crusts and peel start coming out from 7 to 14 days after the treatment. But you must be very patient in case of deep peels. Here the treated area would be bandaged after the treatment. It is important to apply ointment and emollient moisturiser after the treatment.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The duration of the chemical peel is about 20 to 30 minutes and each session costs about Rs. 800 to Rs. 1500. But this can vary according to the peeling agent and the fees of the individual clinics.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the chemical peel treatment can be permanent if you can follow the guidelines of your skin expert. Normally, acne scars, ageing, crow’s feet, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles are treated with the chemical peel and the results would last for up to 3 years depending on how much you had been affected. You may consider another appointment for chemical peel once the problems begin to come back.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

If you find that you are not a suitable candidate of chemical peel, you can consider other options like laser resurfacing, dermabrasion and use of topical medicines such as tretinoin. But it is important to consult with a skin expert who can guide better in choosing the best means to mitigate skin problems.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: Medium Timeliness: Low Relative Risk: Medium Side Effects: Medium Recovery Time: Medium Price Range: RS. 800 - Rs. 1500 per session

Popular Health Tips

Chemical Peels: Conditions They Treat - A Warning!

M Ch. Plastic Surgery, MS - General Surgery, MBBS
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Durg
Chemical Peels: Conditions They Treat - A Warning!

A chemical peel is a form of skin treatment where an acid solution is used for the removal of damaged outer layers of the skin. Alpha hydroxyl acids and trichloroacetic acids are used in chemical peels. Phenol is also applied to the skin. Chemical peels aid in improving the skin’s appearance. The chemical acid solution makes the skin peel off. The new skin is much smoother and is less wrinkled.

Chemical peels are of several types:

  1. Superficial peels: In this type, alpha hydroxyl acid is used to penetrate the outer layer of the skin and exfoliates it gently. Superficial peels are used for improving the appearance of mild skin discoloration and rough skin.
  2. Medium peels: In medium peels, trichloroacetic acid is used for penetrating into the middle layers of the skin to remove damaged cells. Improvement in age spots, lines and wrinkles can be done using medium peels. Rough skin is smoothened.
  3. Deep peels: In the case of deep peels, trichloroacetic acid or phenol is used for penetrating the middle layers of the skin to remove damaged cells. Skin appearance is improved drastically.

Conditions treated with chemical peels
Chemical peels are used for the treatment of certain conditions. They can be used to treat the following conditions:

  1. Reduction in fine lines which occur under the eyes or around the mouth.
  2. Treatment of wrinkles which are caused due to sun damage or old age. This is done using chemical peels.
  3. Chemical peels help in improving the appearance of mild scars on the skin surface.
  4. Several types of acne are cured by chemical peels.
  5. Chemical peels help in reducing age spots, freckles and dark patches known as melasma, which occur because of pregnancy or because of taking birth control pills.
  6. The overall look and feel of the skin are improved after using chemical peels.

After a chemical peel treatment is done, the skin becomes extra sensitive to the sun. Hence, it is recommended to use a sunscreen lotion, which also protects against UVA and UVB light rays.

Are chemical peels safe?
Chemical peels are very effective and provide perfect rejuvenation to the skin. However, as far as safety is concerned, you should know that chemical peels have some side effects.

  • They may result in a temporary or permanent change in the skin color, especially in women who take birth control pills.
  • Scarring can occur and cold sores can get reactivated.

Chemical peels involve the use of chemicals or acid to improve the appearance and condition of the skin. This procedure is an effective one and satisfactory results are obtained.

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Chemical Peels - Know Its Benefits!

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, FRGUHS ? Dermatosurgery
Dermatologist, Bangalore
Chemical Peels - Know Its Benefits!

Not many of us like the image that stares back at us in the mirror. We all would love to have those wrinkles gone, the dull appearance improved, the fine lines disappear, the spots (brown, black, gray, whatever) just vanish. However, they don't. They are all real, but the good news is that they are not here to stay. There are improved methods of producing younger, glowing skin and chemical peels is one of them.

In 2011, it was rated as one of the top 5 minimally invasive procedure with about a million people in the USA going for it to revitalize their skin.

What do they do: You could be of any age or gender, looking for a youthful, glowing skin. Chemical peels definitely are an option for you. The skin is the most exposed part and is prone to damage from sun, pollution and dust. These leave uneven tone, dull skin, wrinkles and spots. In all these cases, a chemical peel can produce a marked improvement. A chemical preparation (solution) is applied on the skin which dissolves and removes the upper layers of the skin and allows for new skin to form. This is younger looking, softer, and smoother with fewer imperfections. The strength of the solution and the duration of application will depend completely on the patient's presenting situation and goals.

Benefits of chemical peels:

  1. Reduces fine lines and wrinkles: Unlike creams and serums and lotions, these offer a much faster way to achieving smoother, clearer skin.
  2. Improves skin tone: The rough, top layers that were exposed to sun are removed, producing skin with improved texture.
  3. Promotes collagen production: The skin is made to produce more collagen, which results in skin that has better elasticity and glow.
  4. Eliminates scars from acne: The damage done by acne through scars left behind can be 'peeled' off with a chemical peel.
  5. Improves damage from sun exposure: Exposure to sun is most harmful to skin, and chemical peels help reduce this damage by removing off the top layers of skin that is affected by constant exposure to sun. 
  6. Economical: Compared to the expensive creams and lotions that make huge promises, chemical peels are definitely cost effective.
  7. Boosts self-esteem: A smoother, glowing skin that is free of spots, wrinkles, and fine lines is sure to improve the person's confidence.

Following are the Indications for Chemical Peels-

  • Treatment and Prevention of Acne
  • Pigmentation
  • Anti-aging
  • Sun-induced Pigmentation
  • Tanning

Chemical peels can be done on face, back, arms and legs, feet. elbows and knees, knuckles to even out pigmentation and smoothen the skin. Post care precautions are simple to follow-up avoidance of direct sunlight for first 4-5 days, strict application of sunscreen and keeping skin hydrated regularly.

A detailed discussion with your doctor about expectations is definitely the first step if you are thinking of going for a chemical peel. Consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

3872 people found this helpful

Know Everything About Chemical Peeling!

MBBS, DNB (Dermatology)
Dermatologist, Mumbai
Know Everything About Chemical Peeling!

Chemical peeling is a skin treatment which involves the peeling of the old skin and its replacement by a new layer of skin. It is generally done on the face, neck or arms and the process involves the application of a chemical solution over the skin in order to improve the overall appearance. The chemical peeling process is generally used to treat common skin disorders like - acne, wrinkles, scars, and such others. 

Common uses 

The chemical peeling process is mostly used to treat skin ailments in general. Some of the most common uses of a chemical peeling are as follows: 

Reducing fine lines on the face 

  1. Curing and preventing certain types of acne 
  2. Healing damages caused due to sun burns 
  3. Reducing age spots, dark patches and freckles on the face 
  4. Improving the softness and overall quality of skin 

What should you keep in mind before opting for a chemical peel? 

A chemical peel is a huge step towards the treatment of your skin, thus, you should always consult a dermatologist before actually opting for a chemical peeling process. It is a highly recommended measure because chemical peeling in some cases might not suit your skin. So, a complete skin diagnosis by a doctor helps to minimize the possible side effects related to the chemical peeling process. In general, this process is preferred in cases of people having a fair toned skin accompanied by a light hair growth. Before you get a chemical peel done, your doctor might just examine your medical history in order to stop certain medications that you are taking currently. Additionally, the doctor might also prescribe you certain medications, such as Retin-A, Renova, or glycolic acid to boost up the peeling process. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or antiviral drugs to ensure that the process is not having any side effects. 

How is it actually done? 

Chemical peels are usually done after a proper cleansing of the skin and then choosing the appropriate type of peel to suit your skin type. After cleansing of the skin the doctor usually applies a chemical solution such as glycolic acid, trichloroacetic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid, or carbolic acid (phenol) - to small areas of your skin. The peeling process usually lasts for a few minutes and the chemical helps in making controlled wounds on the skin in order to damage the old skin and allow the new skin to grow.

5601 people found this helpful

Chemical Peel - What All Does It Treat?

MBBS, Diploma In Dermatology & Venerology & Leprosy (DDVL)
Dermatologist, Raigarh
Chemical Peel - What All Does It Treat?

Chemical peels are a skin care procedure that can be used on the face, neck, and even the hands in order to remove and prevent fine lines. These peels are also helpful in treating age spots and blemishes. These peels can be a part of one’s regular skin care regimen in order to improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Read on to know more about chemical peels and the various types available.

The procedure: Chemical peels usually follow a specific procedure where a chemical solution is applied to the skin which makes upper layer to peel off. The new skin that emerges is usually free of wrinkles and smoother as compared to the old skin.

What all does it treat: There are a variety of skin problems that can be treated by chemical peels, including reduction of age spots, dark patches, and other scars. It can also treat severe forms of acne even as it prevents fine lines and wrinkles that have been caused due to constant sun exposure and aging. Also, it reduces the fine lines that form under the eyes and around the mouth. This treatment can also help in treating freckles and dark patches that may be caused due to hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy and also due to birth control pills. It basically gives you smooth and supple skin.

Light peels: This is one of the most commonly used types of chemical peels. These include lactic, salicylic acid and glycolic peels. This type of chemical peel is a mild one that makes the pores smaller and treats surface problems like acne, blackheads, as well as other skin imperfections like light skin discolouration and freckles. This kind of peel is quick and easy to administer, and can help in stimulating collagen production to keep the skin supple. One will typically need about four sittings in a span of two to four weeks.

Medium depth chemical peels: These are stronger peels that show more dramatic results. They may cause visible flaking and peeling after the procedure has been carried out. These peels are usually used to fix the problems that come about due to sun damage. Also, these peels can decrease the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and large pores. These peels can also repair the patches that appear due to pigmentation problems. One will need a session at least once every three months to maintain the results.

Deep chemical peels: These peels have more risk and deeper complications. They are used for very severe cases that include permanent hyperpigmentation which brings about darkening of the skin. Also, it can fix lightening of the skin due to hypopigmentation. It can also be used for the removal of scars. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.

2711 people found this helpful

Chemical Peel and the Pathology Behind It

Diploma in Dermatology, MD, MBBS
Dermatologist, Delhi
Chemical Peel and the Pathology Behind It

Chemical peeling is a medical procedure which includes application of a chemical agent to the skin, causing controlled destruction of the epidermis, with or without the dermis, leading to exfoliation and removal of superficial lesions, followed by regeneration of new epidermal and dermal tissues. In simple words chemical peeling or chemical rejuvenation is procedure where a chemical agent or combination of agents of defined strength are applied the skin causing a controlled destruction of layers of the skin. This is followed by regeneration and remodeling leading to improvement of texture and surface abnormalities. It is a safe, effective and affordable option for improving skin ageing and imperfections.

Skin is considered the largest organ of the body and has many different functions. The skin is divided in two main regions, the epidermis and the dermis. The dermis is attached to an underlying hypodermis also called subcutaneous connective tissue.

Epidermis: It is the most superficial layer of the skin. The first barrier of protection from the invasion of foreign substances. The epidermis is divided into four layers – stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum and stratum basalis(basal layer).

Dermis: It is composed of fibroblasts which are responsible for secreting collagen, elastin and ground substance that gives support and elasticity to skin. It supplies the epidermis with nutrients and has its role in thermoregulation. The dermis is subdivided into two zones, upper papillary and lower reticular layer.

Classification of peels according to histological depth

  1. Very superficial peel – Exfoliation of the stratum cormeum, without any epidermal necrosis.
  2. Superficial peel – Destruction of the full epidermis, up to the basal layer
  3. Medium peel – Destruction of the epidermis, papillary dermis and upto the upper one third of the reticular dermis.
  4. Deep peel – Necrosis of the entire epidermis and papillary dermis with inflammation extending to the mid reticular dermis.

Classification of chemical peeling agents

Very superficial Peel:

  • Glycolic Acid 30-50% applied for 1-2 minutes
  • TCA* 10% applied as one coat
  • Jessner’s solution 1-3 coats

Superficial Peel:

  • Glycolic acid 50-70% applied for 2-10 mins (depending on the type and thickness of the skin)
  • TCA 10-30%
  • Jessner’s solution 4-10 coats
  • Very superficial and superficial Peels are the mildest form and often called, “the lunchtime peel.” These peels break down corneocyte adhesion, causing dead skin cells to shed off to reveal the fresh, healthy underlying skin. These peels address minor skin irregularities like discoloration, acne, surface scarring, fine lines, and sun spots.

Medium Peel:

  • Glycolic acid 70% applied for 3-30 mins (depending on the type and thickness of the skin)
  • TCA 35-50%
  • Glycolic Acid 70% plus TCA 35%
  • Jessner’s solution plus TCA 35%

Deep Peel:

  • Phenol 88%
  • Baker Gordon phenol formula
  • Medium and deep peels increase the collagen and glycosaminoglycans content, cause collagen remodeling and increase dermal thickness to improve the clinical appearance of the skin with reduced wrinkles, skin tightening and pigmentary dyschromia.

Reason behind chemical peeling:

  • Wound healing process is an important reason for rejuvenation. The phases of wound healing after chemical exfoliation are apparent:
  • Inflammatory phase (1-5 days) – This phase is evident after peeling as erythma and swelling on the skin
  • Proliferative phase (2-21 days) – In superficial peels, the basement membrane is intact, hence normal epidermis is restored in 2 to 3 days. In medium to deep peels, wound is below basement membrane and re-epithelialization takes time.
  • Remodeling phase (3 weeks to 2 years) – collagen remodeling is the main reason that chemical peels cause rejuvenation and reduce wrinkles.

Indications for peels:

1. Pigmentary disorders

  • Resistant melasma
  • Pigmented cosmetic dermatitis
  • Freckles
  • Lentigines
  • Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation

2. Acne

  • Comedonal acne
  • Post acne scars
  • Acne cosmetic
  • Acne excoriee

3. Cosmetic

  • Photoageing
  • Fine wrinkling
  • Skin glow and rejuvenation
  • Oily to rough skin
  • Actinic keratosis

4. Miscellaneous

  • Keratosis pilaris
  • Macular amyloidosis
  • Dilated pores
  • Seborrheic keratoses


  • Active bacterial, viral and fungal infection and open wounds
  • Oral isotretinoin use within the past three months
  • Pregnancy and breast feeding
  • History of keloid formation
  • History of taking oral contraceptive and photosensitive drugs
  • Unrealistic patient expectation
  • Uncooperative patient, eg. Patient is careless about sun exposure or application of medicine
  • For medium depth and deep peels, history of abnormal scarring, atrophic skin and isotretinoin use in the last six months.

How to choose a patient:

A patient should be chosen depending upon 4P’s:

P – Pathology

P – Point of depth required

P – Patients skin

P – Previous peeling agents

Newer peels:

Many peels like mandelic acid, kojic acid, lactic acid, citric acid and many more have been introduced in the market which are also available in combination. These peels are not only more skin friendly but also more patient friendly. They have buffering agents like licorice extract and willow bark extract to minimize irritation to skin and antioxidants to infuse the skin with restorative nutrients. The change in the skin often occurs at cellular level and are not apparent to the naked hence making it more popular amongst busy patients who are seeking effective treatments quickly with little or no downtime.

Benefits of chemical peels:

The skin becomes noticeably smoother and rejuvenated.

  • It reduces pigmentation, improves dull and uneven skin tone, reduces signs of photoagaeing, acne and enlarged pores.
  • Removes dead and damaged skin cells and improves skin texture
  • Helps in removal of tan
  • Skin becomes brighter and more vivid because chemical peels not only cause re-epithelialization of the epidermis but also collagen remodeling.

Pre peel and post peel precautions:

  • Patient has to be motivated enough to get multiple sittings of the peel ( 4-8, depending on the indication and type of peel) every 2-3 weekly to get the desired result.
  • Patient should not wax, bleach, scrub, shave(the same day) or get any other aesthetic procedure like microdermabrasion, ipl, derma-roller one day before the chemical peel procedure. A gap of at least 7 days before and after the peel should be maintained.
  • Patient should use a mild soap/ non soap cleanser after the peel
  • Broad spectrum sunscreen and moisturizer should be used liberally, at least 2-3 times a day and sun exposure should be avoided.
  • Patient should be strictly prohibited from scratching, picking or scrubbing the skin.

Take home message:

Chemical peeling is a simple office procedure for the treatment of acne, pigmentation, skin rejuvenation and photo ageing. These are not one time procedures but require 6-8 sessions and maintenance peels to achieve maximum improvement and prevent recurrences. The newer peels are safer and effective. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dermatologist.

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Popular Questions & Answers

Today I did chemical peeling to my face can I do eyebrow and forehead threading? Please advise

MBBS, DPD-Cardiff (U.K)
Dermatologist, Noida
No! Chemical peel makes your skin sensitive. Waxing and threading should be avoided for atleast a week before or after peeling sessions.
2 people found this helpful

Hi doctor i have some quetion Q1. Which chemical peel for me my dark spots? TCA Or AHA Q2. TCA PEEL SIDE EFFECT? Q3. AHA PEEL SIDE EFFECT?

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy, FRGUHS ? Dermatosurgery
Dermatologist, Bangalore
AHA peels can be used - discuss the side effect with your doctor before you take the peel. Mainly you must avoid direct sun exposure for upto a week after peel treatment. Warm regards
3 people found this helpful

Table of Content

What is the treatment?
How is the treatment done?
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Are there any side effects?
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
How long does it take to recover?
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice