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Chemical Peel Recovery Time

I am a professional, very busy. Cannot afford to be out of work for long recovering from a  chemical peel. How much downtime can I expect from chemical peels of different depths?

Doctor Answers 36

Chemical peel downtime

Moderate or medium depth chemical peels with 35% TCA will get great results, but snake skin peeling starts 3 days after the peel and lasts 1 week.

Superficial peels do not achieve the same results but can be done with little to no downtime. You may consider a series of fractionated erbium yag laser peels, as these can be done on Friday, and by Monday there is no real evidence of the treatment.

However, remember this may require several treatments for optimal results, and the more aggressive the treatment, the more days added on to the recovery.

In general, if you were given the option for a medium depth chemical peel than a fractionated erbium yag will get similar results in 1-2 treatments without the loss of 1 week of work.

Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Chemical Peel downtime

It all depends on the depth of the peel and your skin. I have seen patients not have any redness at all after light peels, and only have a pleasant "glow", while others have had redness that lasted for about a week or two. Deep peels can result in redness that lasts for a few weeks.

Chemical peel for busy professional

First you need to identify what you what to correct with the peel. Or could it be just "maintenance"? The type of peel that will meet your goals can then be selected. The recovery time depends on the peel. So, for example, if you have significant facial wrinkles, this will require a peel such as a TCA. You will be "out of commission" for about a week. If you have some areas of pigmentation, skin is dull, etc. you could do a series of glycolic peels with no downtime. So it depends on what your goals are.

Hope this helps.

Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Chemical Peels and Recovery Time

Chemical peels will have different recovery time depending on the goal and level of treatment.  A strong peel with 20% or more TCA will take about a week of peeling.  Lighter peels will hardly have any peeling and you will look refreshed and rejuvenated right away.  I always combine these peel with the correct skin care products to give the best cosmetic results.  Some of my patients choose to combine peels with other procedures such as V-Beam laser to treat the redness from the sun damage since this also does not leave any down time and rejuvenates the skin.  Clear and Brilliant is another option to tighten pores and leave skin looking  beautiful with absolutely no down time.  Please consult a board certified dermatologist with expertise in chemical peels.  Best, Dr. Green

Chem peel downtimes.

If you are just having a mild peel with Glycolic acid 30-40% this will usually have minimal to no downtime, but will require multiple sessions if you are looking to correct pigmentation and reverse sun damage.

Kaleroy Papantoniou, MD, FAAD
Long Island Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Different depths of peels & downtime

Chemical peels can be done light, medium, or deep—depending on your desired results. The breakthrough is that now we have non-invasive gentle peels that result in little to no downtime, but still give patients extraordinary results. My patients are able to come in during their lunch break and return to work with no redness or flakiness, just beautiful, glowing skin.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Recovery time after a chemical peel

Hi there,

Recovery time is dependent on the strength of the chemical peel. With "stronger" superficial depth peels and "lighter" medium depth peels, you can often expect 5-7 days of peeling time. The peeling typically begins about 24-48 hours after the peel is applied. Prior to the start of peeling, your skin will begin to feel "tight" and wrinkled. Never forcefully pull any skin off after a chemical peel. You must allow the skin to peel off on its own. Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers for several weeks after the peel. Lastly, make sure to use sunscreen and practice sun avoidance after your peel.

Hope this helps!

Downtime Varies With Depth of Peel

The recovery/downtime time associated with a chemical peel will vary based on the aggressiveness of the peel.  Superficial to medium depth peels can take anywhere from 5-10 days to resolve. And of course, the type of peel best suited to address your concerns will need to be determined after a thorough consultation with your physician or licensed clinical aesthetician. Without knowing what your primary concerns are, it is difficult to say what kind of downtime you should expect, because I am not certain what improvements you would like to see in your skin. The depth of the peel will determine how many subsequent treatments you will need to see a change in your skin. Typically, with superficial peels you can expect to see good results after a series of 3 and optimal results after a series of 6 peels.  Medium depth peels allow for significant improvement after a single treatment. Also, a home care regimen to support the treatment series is an integral part of achieving and maintaining your desired result. 

For my busy professionals who cannot withstand the downtime associated with chemical peels, I offer the alternative - the micropeel.  This two step procedure incorporates two forms of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical.  It allows the busy professional to attain the
benefits of a chemical peel without the redness, downtime and discomfort. It is great for all skin types and makeup can be worn immediately following the treatment. 

Chemical peel types

It is important to have a medical consultation prior to doing any chemical peel. As you know there are many types of peels addressing different skin concerns. A modified Jessner peel is a great peel with excellent results but minimal downtime. It is good for hyperpigmentation, acne scars, firmness, pore size and other complexion concerns. Most patients experience some mild peeling approximately 3 days after the procedure. In most cases time off work is not required. Light peels such as Lactic or Glycolic peels have no peeling, and in fact these are great to have done just before a big event. Stronger peels such as Phenol acid and TCA will leave you with quite extensive downtime. In some cases redness can last several weeks, but this can be covered with camouflage makeup. Your plastic surgeon or dermatologist will advise you on what peel would be best for your skin and your skin concerns.

Zero to 14 days.

Peels of different depths will result in variation of downtime, deep you go, high the risk, better the outcome(unless you are doing this melasma- then stay clear of deep peels) and the longer the downtime. 

Go for lunch time peels, see a Specialist, start at 20 % Glycolic then goto 70% Glycolic if tolerated. 

Other options for limited recovery- 30% TCA with acetone scrub, 6-7 day downtime. 

Explore lasers such as Fraxel 1027/ 1550 as other non peel options. 

All the best

Dr Davin Lim
Laser and cosmetic dermatologist
Brisbane and Gold Coast.

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 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.