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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 (31)

TCA peels recovery time

+3

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.


West Palm Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Chemical peels and downtime

+2

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 47 reviews

Downtime after chemical peels

+2

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 9 reviews

Chemical Peel downtime

+2

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.

Channing R. Barnett, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Chemical peel for busy professional

+2

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 18 reviews

Chemical peel downtime

+2

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

+1
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 6 reviews

Chemical peel types

+1
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.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Zero to 14 days.

+1
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 2 reviews

Time schedule for peels

+1
Hi.  It's possible to devise a treatment plan, based on the amount of downtime you are willing to give up, provided it's at least a couple of days.  But, it will require multiple treatments that are lightweight, rather than one treatment that is deeper, to get the results.

All the best,

Thomas Fiala, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 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.