Ask a doctor

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 (31)

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.

New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Chemical Peel Recovery Time

In general, chemical peel recovery time of a moderate depth with Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) is about 7-10 days.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Chemical Peels


Chemical Peels are an amazing treatment to reduce the appearance of fine lines, brown spots and congested pores.  There are many different strengths of peels available.  A peel with minimal downtime is the PCA Sensi Peel.  This peel is often done with Microdermabrasion and the results are amazing!  You will have an immediate glow and slight flaking will possibly occur 2-3 days later whicah will only last a couple of days.  You can return to work the same day as the peel and nobody will know you've had anything done.  This is why we refer to this treatment as the lunch time peel. This treatment would be a good choice for you.  Hope that helped.

W. John Bull, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

You might also like...

Chemical Peel Downtime


There are different types of chemical peels with a different peel strength. The chemical solution is applied to your skin that causes it to pill off. The less aggressive peels are performed by the aesthetician in the spa. After that type of a peel, the downtime is usually short, from a few days to a week.  Clients may return to work the same day or the next.  The procedure can be repeated every few weeks.  After receiving a superficial peel you will usually experience mild redness and little peeling.However, the peels that are only performed by a certified doctor are very strong.  Aggressive peels normally will result in more peeling, crusting, swelling and will result in a longer recovery time. The downtime for the aggressive peels is usually seven to fourteen weeks. The procedure can be repeated in 6-12 months. It is important to remember that after any type of a peel you have to wear a sunscreen with a high SPF. After the chemical peel the skin is easily damaged and it needs protection.  Consult your provider for the most accurate results.

Edward E. Dickerson, IV, MD
Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

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.

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

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.

Dina D. Strachan, MD
New York Dermatologist
3.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

TCA peels recovery time


TCA peels are very effective for removing signs of photoaging and discolorations. The peel usually looks bad for 3-7 days. Some people heal quicker but I would not count on it. Assume you will be out of the public eye for 7 days.

Steven Hacker, MD
West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

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 17 reviews

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.

Shawn Allen, MD
Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

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. 

Larry C. Leverett, MD, FACS
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 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.