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Chemical Peel Side Effects

i would guess that a chemcial peel would have some complication or side effect risks.  what should i be aware of before getting a facial peel?

Doctor Answers 9

Risks of Peeling usually related to depth of peel

There are numerous potential side effects to peels and the severity is generally related to the depth. Depending on the type of peel this can be a function of the concentration or the relative proportions of the ingredients.

Side effects include hyper or hypopigmentation, prolonged redness, herpes activation with infection, secondary bacterial infection, ulcers, hypertophic scars, pain, firmness, delayed healing, itching, and prolonged inflammation.

No one really knows how often peels can be repeated and the risks of repeated peels are difficult to quantitate..

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

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Chemical peels have risks that are lowered by being cautious

There are many risks with chemical peels (trichloroacetic acid, jessners peel, salicylic, rescorcinal, lactic acid, vitalase, retinoic acid, etc) including but not limited to, scarring, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, acne flares, eyelid malposition, infection, poor results. There are many levels of peels and their is alot information out there that helps surgeons determine how deep they are when they do chemical peels. Knowledge of the depth of the peels helps you determine how aggressive you are and also to avoid problems. The more you know the better and the safer your chemical peel can be.

Thanks for reading!

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Peel side effects

The side effects of peels include:

some swelling, especially with deeper peels

Your practitioner will go over them during your consultation so you can make an informed decision.

Chemical Peel Side Effects

You first want to go to a qualified establishment and express your concerns and desires.  Some side effects can be peeling, blanching or discoloration.  Most of this depends on the depth of the peel, so you will probably need a series of peels to get the best results.  The first peel should be less intense with little or no burning or side effects, and then you can go up to a higher strength from there as your provider feels is safe and necessary.  Protecting and taking care of your "new" skin afterwards is imperative, so use sunscreen and follow any post procedures with each peel you have done.  Good luck!


Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Very Few Complications

There are very few risks to getting a chemical peel. Just make sure you go to a skilled provider who can explain to you the different strengths and what your downtime will be. The most important thing to do after a chemical peel is to wear a good sunscreen to protect your new skin.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Chemical peel side effects varies according to depth

Chemical peels are divided according to the depth of penetration into three groups:

1. Light peels (superficial): Glycolic, salicylic etc...

2. Medium depth:TCA

3. Deep peels: Phenol.

The clinical effect and also side effects varies according to the depth. Superficial and medium depth side effects are mainly related to local skin issues e.g hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, scars etc.

Deep peels especialy phenol have side effects related to their toxicity e.g cardiac arrythmias and liver problems.

TCA is the most useful in my mind. The concentration can vary 15-45%. The peel is very technique dependent and must be used with care.

Hope that helps!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Peel risks

The basic risks of a chemical peel are scars, hypopigmentation, and hyperpigmentation.  There are many types of peels and many strengths of peels designed to peel down to varying skin depths.  A phenol peel can even be absorbed and have systemic side effects.

Benefits and risks of chemical peels

I perform several deep chemical peels per week and firmly believe that they represent an important modality for facial rejuvenation. The risks of chemical peeling include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, blistering, pain, scarring, and foliliculitis. These risks are minimized with an experienced practitioner.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Side effects or risks from facial peel

As with any procedure, there are risks. Risks are dependent on the type of chemical used and the medical condition of the patient. For most over the counter superficial peels, risks are minimal.

For deeper peels, such as TCA and phenol, rewards are great, but there are risks. Redness and skin peeling can be expected after treatment. Depending on the depth of the peel, redness can last for several weeks to a few months.

Patients prone to cold sores can experience outbreaks around the time of a peel and infections are always possible. Anytime the skin is damaged, even with a chemical peel, scarring is a risk. Generally if appropriate care is administered, the risk of scarring is very minimal.

Patients with certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune skin conditions, should take great care when undergoing any type of skin procedure. In some cases, these patients may not be candidates for the procedure. As always, consultation with an experienced and trained physician is essential when considering a chemical peel.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 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.