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?
Chemical Peel Recovery Time
Doctor Answers 33
Chemical peels and downtime
IMHO, you simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. I am certain that others will disagree with me but the peels or the fractionated lasers that brag about being lunchtime or no downtime, are, in my opinion, not particularly effective either. On the other hand, a light-medium depth peel on a Friday might have you back to work on a Monday and still achieve a reasonable effect.
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Downtime after chemical peels
The amount of downtime after a chemical peel depends on the strength of the peel. Depending upon your goals, and the condition of your skin, there are a number of chemical peels that are what I call 'low to no downtime." There include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, Jessner's and Vi Peel. The peeling process is usually over in a week. The peeling usually starts 1-3 days after treatment and is most noticable for about 24 hours after it starts. I usually advise patients that are concerned about downtime (and who don't mind peeling on the weekend) to get the peel on a Thursday. The peeling will likely not start sooner than Friday night and will mostly be over by Monday.
Chemical Peel downtime
The amount of downtime you have from a chemical peel really depends on the type (strength) of the peel. Superficial peels which include glycolic acid, salicylic acid and TCA 15% do not cause much downtime at all. Patients undergoing superficial chemical peeling can expect to have mild redness and peeling, both of which can be easily covered up. More aggressive peeling (medium strength and higher) can cause a lot more swelling, redness, crusting and peeling and therefore have greater downtime.
The tradeoff is that you get much better results with more aggressive peeling. Your doctor will be able to discuss your goals and your work restrictions and come up with the best peel for you.
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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
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.
Chemical Peel downtime
Recovery time after a chemical peel
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
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
Zero to 14 days.
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.
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.