What's the Difference Between Getting a Chemical Peel from a Dr. or an Esthetician?

Doctor Answers (2)

The difference between chemical peels from a Dr. versus an esthetician

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There are superficial, medium depth and deep chemical peeling agents used in chemical peel treatments to cause an intended injury to the skin. Estheticians are only trained on the very superficial peeling agents such as gycolic acid of 20 % or less and the agent is somewhat neutralized. Occasionally, the peels are referred to as glycolic acid washes. Physicians can use higher strength glycolic acid (greater than 25% and a lower pH in the acid range) peeling agents for superficial chemical peels. Other peeling agents such as lactic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid and phenol should be only used by experienced physicians.


Washington DC Dermatologic Surgeon

By law, estheticians are limited in the range of peels they can perform.

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The peels performed by estheticians can be helpful for smoothing the skin and helping make the skin flow fresher.  However for real help with deeper lines, deeper peels are needed.  By law, there are generally limited to physicians rather than poorly trained estheticians who are not trained to manage the skin injury that is necessary to obtain significant improvement in skin quality associated with deeper treatment.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Los Angeles Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

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