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How Long Does a Chemical Peel Last?

Hi, I have been researching types of chemical peels, but I am confused about some things: Once you have a peel done, how long does it last? Does this vary by type? When they say 'recovery period' , i.e. 7 days, does that mean you have to stay in for 7 days? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 14

Chemical Peels and Fruit Washes for refreshing and rejuvenating skin

Chemical peels are usually divided into superficial, medium, and deep peels. Medium peels, using combinations of acids, such as trichloroacetic acid and Jessner's solution, among others, penetrate to the dermis and are effective for improving mild to moderate photodamage and wrinkling.

Healing generally takes about 7-10 days and is accompanied by some oozing, scabs and crusts. The results may last for at least a year or more and with continued sun protection far longer.

Deep peels, no longer commonly performed, involve the application of strong acids, such as phenol along with certain penetration enhancers. As the name implies, the peeling solution is intended to penetrate the skin more deeply, and is therefore useful for improving moderate to deep wrinkling, crinkling, discoloration and laxity.

A true, burn-like wound is created and healing make take up to two weeks, although there is a risk for scarring and permanent loss of skin pigmentation. The results may last for years.

Superficial Peels, on the other hand, such as those performed with alpha hydroxyacids, commonly glycolic acid, are quite popular for refreshing, smoothing and brightening dull, sallow skin and evening out blotchy, irregular skin pigmentation.

In my experience, an initial series of four to six or more peels of this sort, performed at monthly intervals, is wonderful for dealing with fine wrinkles, crinkles, discolorations, and photodamage.

Once the series is over, maintenance treatments can be scheduled as needed. I like to refer to these treatments as "fruit washes" because the material used was originally naturally derived. There is generally no downtime. Patients can come during a lunchbreak and expect to return immediately to work with brighter skin. For this reason they are frequently referred to as "lunchtime beauty fixes."

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Peels vary a great deal


The down time for a peel varies quite a bit. Light chemical peels have essentially no downtime but do not change things much. Heavier peels make you look like your face is a mummy's face for a week or so. The results last depending upon how deeply the skin was treated. Light peel results last a few weeks. Deeper peels last months to years.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Chemical peel longevity and recovery

It is good to ask yourself what are the goals you seek for your skin. If it just signs of aging, a bland complexion, or light acne, then very superficial to superficial peels plus a strong home regimen is worthwhile. There is almost no recovery with these. If there are heavy lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation and you want your face back, then you would want to take the time for preparation seeking a deeper peel, and some recovery of up to 2 weeks, plus a maintenance regimen. Chemical peels have rebounded in the past 8 years, with advanced knowledge and diversity in peeling solutions and application for many skin types. A photo and why is important in answering your completely most completely. It is my resurfacing procedure of choice for practically all skin types and skin problems. Best regards for this question.

Donn Hickman, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Information on Chemical Peels

Chemical peels can be used to get rid of acne, as well as scarring. They remove the top layers of the skin, where the most dead skin cells are and prevent pored from getting clogged. Most peels deliver results within two weeks. Chemical peels can last for about 2 months. The recovery period is probably referring to the time before the results are seen. However if you are younger I would look into an facial, if you go to a good place a facial will do the trick, and many plastic and cosmetic surgeons offer them.

Kimberly A. Henry, MD
Greenbrae Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Longevity of a Chemical Peel

Depending on the depth, a chemical peel will last from 3-5 years. If it is a deeper peel, it will last longer.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Chemical Peel Dration

The duration of the peel and the effectiveness of the peel vary considerably based on the peel utilized. Light Peels generally last no more than a month.  More aggressive peels will last for a year or more. The post treatment measures will vary on the type of peel.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Chemical peels and recovery

The type of chemical peel chosen for your skin depends on the underlying condition being treated and your skin type. The depth of the peel chosen depends on these things, location, and the amount of "down time" the patient is able to have. Lighter peels are chosen with the understanding that the desired results may be acheived after a series of peels, instead of one. This is done if the patient is not able to have a long "recovery" period. The "recovery" time, or period of time when the top layer of skin sloughs off and the new skin is forming, varies on the type of peel used and the patient's skin. For example, some patients with very oily skin may see less peeling that others. A good rule of thumb is, the deeper the peel, the more damage done to the surface of the skin- the longer the recovery period- the longer the results

Purvisha Patel, MD
Germantown Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Chemical Peels and Downtime

Typically, the longer it takes you to heal the better result you will get. The ones performed by physicians are medium to deep peels, ask to see some pictures of the recovery process.

Melanie L. Petro, MD
Birmingham Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Several Types of Chemical Peels

A chemical peel is a chemical solution applied to the skin’s surface to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration of the skin (such as sun and age spots). They can also be usedf for acne and acne scarring. A chemical peel also refreshes skin texture and color creating a youthful and rejuvenated glow of the skin.

Chemical peels fall into three categories: superficial, medium and deep peeling. Superficial peeling is traditionally the least aggressive, while medium and deep chemical peeling can be very aggressive with more significant downtime. However, more aggressive peels typically give more noticeable results. Therefore, the amount of downtime and longevity of a peel depends on the level of peel done.

In my practice, we use medical strength salicylic acid, glycolic acid and trichloracetic acid, as well as the ViPeel System. During your consultation, your physician should decide with you which chemical peel is right for you based onthe condition(s) being addressed and your goals.

Duration depends on depth of peel

Light peels that affect only the superficial layer of the skin called the epidermis can be expected to show improved texture and tone for about 1-2 months. This is because it takes the skin cells approximately 30 days to repopulate the epidermis. Chemicals used for light peels include salicylic acid, glycolic acid (lower percentages), TCA 15%, Jessner's solution. Medium peels can have effects lasting anywhere from 2-6 months because they affect the epidermis and a portion of the underlying dermis. I will not repeat a medium peel any sooner than every 2 months.

The duration of the beneficial effects of light and medium peels can be extended by starting a regimen of gentle physical exfoliation (for example baking soda mixed with cetaphil cleanser rubbed gently on the skin 2-3 times weekly) and chemical exfoliation (for example daily use of glycolic acid containing moisturizer in the morning). Additionally, a retinoid containing product (for example Renova) will aid in diminishing fine lines and uneven pigmentation. Most importantly, a daily sunscreen SPF 30 or higher will help to prevent repigmentation and further sun damage that contributed to the problem in the first place.

Michael Contreras, MD
Englewood Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.