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Glycolic Peel Left Me with More Swelling Than Was Expected

I had a glycolic peel (40%) (3 passes then...

I had a glycolic peel (40%) (3 passes then neutralized) by a nurse/esthetician. On the day of the peel I began taking Valtrex 500 mg twice a day. However, less than 48 hours later, my face become seriously swollen especially around the eye area. I followed up with a dermatologist who prescribed Prednisone, a Z-Pac and a tropical creme.

At first he discussed herpes but seemed to think that because I had taken Valtrex that what I had was probably a chemical burn. I am curious as to what you think.

My questions is: is a 40% glycolic peel (3 passes) considered a light, medium or advanced peel? What is the scarring potential?
Name not provided

I think a test should be done prior to any skin procedure just as one would do if they were changing their hair color.

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I had a 30 percent TCA peel by a plastic surgeon,,to make a long story short,,I ended up in the hospital for five days. I had to have an IV of a VERY STRONG antibiotic.. My face looked like a swollen monster. this was back in 1990, after the second day I went back to the Dr., with what looked like pimples, filled with fluid,,a low grade fever, feeling rotten,,he said "oh, you have a touch of the flu" and sent me home....Three days later I was in the ER...Tests came back that I had yeast infection on my face, in my mouth, my throat was starting to swell ! The Dr. Actually had the nerve to get an attitude with me and said you are about one in a million it happens to...Looking back, he was an idiot, although Board Certified. I am now 65 yr.old. I have some scaring on my chin area, but, I do look much younger, my skin healed and I have virtually no wrinkles. would I ever do it again ?? NO WAY...IT WAS A NIGHTMARE ! I WOULD RATHER HAVE A TON OF WRINKLES THAN LOOK LIKE A SWOLLEN FACE MONSTER ! THAT IS MY STORY FROM YEARS AGO !!
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It looks like TCA applied to your face. I used Glycolic, TCA for bothe face and body and I never experience that kind of swelling...unless if your doctor used more than 30% TCA. Drink lots of water. Eating pineapple helps too, apply emu oils, hydrocort creams.
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Hello Queen of everything, just wanted to comment on your post in response to Natadaus, she was correct, well for the most part, about around 90- 99% of people have herpes it's called HSV1 which is the cold sore virus. Most people don't know they have it and that's why when asked they say NO. I'm not a doctor but I had to do research on it in my health class and was shocked to find that out....
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QueenEverything, hi! I am considering a peel, but I do once in a while break out with Herpes Simplex on my lips, I do not have any active Herpes right now, and I have not met anyone who never had Herpes. As I understand Herpes never goes away, it sits dormant until stress makes it break through. What you are saying 99% of people should never have this type of peel? Or maybe you are talking about other more severe type of Herpes? Please clarify. Thank you

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Hi Natadaus, I hope I can better clarify your question for you, bear with me, I am a bit long winded! Okay, so believe it or not 99% or the population does NOT have herpes, but it is very common and accepted virus among society today. Most of the people I know don't have it, (not that we sit around asking who has what lol) but the only reason I know this is because they constantly hit me up for free skin care procedures, which I actually don't mind, but I must know medical conditions before I touch anybody, and any reputable doctor, nurse, facialist, and/or skin care professional should demand to know the same for the safety of themselves and their clients. That's why you should always be truthful on any medial questions, and it they don't ask you any prior medical condition questions then that's your cue to run, not walk out the door!

Okay so let's get to why you should be cautions. Anyone with Herpes, Aids, Lupus, Shingles, or going through Chemo should be very cautious and probably opt not to get a peel with a strong Glycolic or TCA strength, I won't post the level, because with these certain medical conditions a trained professional not some person who does facials at the local day spa should be giving you peels. In your case you need to see a trained and licensed dermatologist first, so you will not have to go through the heartbreak and burns that I have seen, and some of them are NOT pretty, and some scarring damage is so deep that it is pretty much permanent.

Because all peels are composed of "Acids" that's job is literally to burn off layers of old epidermis/ skin layers. If your immune systems is already not operating at full capacity you leave yourself open to it not being able to heal or regenerate itself properly leaving high chances of irreversible scarring, deep darkspots, and possible skin damage such as keloids (scar tissues that keeps building over itself to raised proportions). Remember you are putting acid on your face, it's as simple as that.

AHA/ Gylocics go to work by dissolving the glue-like lipids holding cells together, penetrating deep into the skin to loosen these clingy bonds, which exfoliate your skin in a quicker fashion that it normally does by itself. It takes 35 days for the epidermis to replace itself, and about 7 years for the largest organ in the body, the skin, of the entire whole body to replace itself fully, haha snakes be jealous of that! Ok, I digress, so let me explain what the different peels are so you get a better understanding of what actual peels are, and what you are putting on your face. AHA peels are broken down into different formats, thus,Glycolic acid is the smallest molecule, which works the quickest and deepest but it can also be one of the most irritating. Lactic acid is the second largest which is found in a lot of spas, because it does not irritate as much, but it doesn't penetrate as deeply, but it still gives visible improvement to the texture and smoothing of the skin.Then there are tartaric and malic acid peels, then citric, gluconic and some new synthetics acid peels that are popping up in the skin care arena. These work only on and near the skin surface, so they take longer to show improvement, but are virtually guaranteed not to sting, burn or redden the skin, so you can find these in over the counter, drug store or beauty supply shelves, but again all these are acids, never the less, and these peels max out at about 6 to 8 weeks depending on strength and then need to reapplied.

They are beneficial in getting rid of old skin cells which show signs of hyper-pigmentation, scarring, and some stages of wrinkles. Peels strip away damage ONLY, they MUST be teamed up with something else in order to be anti-aging. Like Vitamin C, very controlled doses of hydroquinone, soy, marine actives, and etc for hyperpigmentation, as an example.

If you are looking for anti aging, consider a derivative of retinoic acid (Retin-A).
AHA’s, Gylocic, and TCA peels ONLY exfoliate the skin while retinoic acid works at the nuclear level to produce collagen and skin turnover, BUT AGAIN, you need to see your doctor to see what strength of Retin-A, you can take with the Herpes Virus. Retinol is a lower strength of Retin-A and I'm pretty sure that's what they are going to tell you to go with, and can be found in over the counter skin care lines that won't cause an outbreak for you, with a low dose daily Gylocic like 10% cream INSTEAD of a peel, but again, you need to see a dermatologist for exact dosage, because I can't ethically give you that.

It's true that the Herepes Virus lies dominate, BUT what you don't take into fact, that much like acne patients, an outbreak could start days before you visibly see it because it has to work its way to the tissues and epidermis for you to "visibly" detect it, what you think is an outbreak that started yesterday actually started 4 days ago. Outbreaks are usually caused by stress, hormones, and external and internal irritant and inflammation, and an acid peel is definitely an irritant. Here is an excerpt from an article, I don't think the site will let me post the link so I copied it for you, that sums it up just in case I rambled to much,

"Not everyone is a candidate for chemical peels. If you have herpes( the article says oral, but any skin professional with any morals will take this to mean the Herpes virus period) cold sores or fever blisters and have an outbreak before your peel is completely healed, the virus can infect the treated area, causing severe scarring. Talk to your primary physician about a prescription for an oral antiviral drug if you have herpes. Taking an antiviral product can significantly decrease your chances of an outbreak. You should not have a chemical peel if you've used Accutane (isotretinoin) in the last year because it can increase your chances of excessive scarring. Other factors that may affect your candidacy include recent radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer; sunburn, windburn or broken skin in the treatment area; and/or recent waxing or depilatory use in the treatment area. If you plan to tan, skip the peel."

I hope that answered the question for you! Best of Wishes and Great Skin !!!!
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People with Herpes should NEVER get a glycolic peel. Any properly trained esthetician or doctor should have told you that. That is why they ask you are you taking any medications? Suffer from any diseases, when you get a consultation, but it seems you didn't get a proper consultation to have be forewarned. When you took the Valtrex your body counteracted in the form of swelling. You are very lucky that it all it did, there are a lot of people who have Herpes that have gotten severe chemical burns and now have permanent scarring from this procedure, and have had seizures so consider yourself lucky. People who have Herpes, AIDS, going through chemotherapy, or any other type of immune hindering disorders should NEVER get an glycolic peel, and definitely you never should have taken the Valtrex. Whoever your doctor who administered this did you a great disservice and if I were you I would find a skincare doctor who knows what they are doing because again you could have ended up much worse that what happened to you. even your follow up doctor doesn't seem to bright, but then again he might be an internist not a dermatologist so I will give him the benefit of a doubt, but the person who put it on you with out asking about your medications or medical background should be fired immediately. Next time try salicylic peel or AHA's which are much gentler and deemed safe for you reaction wise. AHA's take a little longer to work on a permanent level with good results with way less risks involved for you.
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yellowbee i have been trained in glycolic peel and i dont have to have a doctor over me.. im not saying at all that you are wrong as i just got into the business but i am intrested in other things i may not know about.
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Do you have any new up to date photos? I have posted some newer photos from my experience from my peel. I still have scarring even after 3 out of 5 dermabrasion treatments. I would like to see how you are doing. Jill
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A tca peel or glycolic ?
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i believe it all depends on the skin. i have did them on some they can handle it and some are super sensitive and you can only make one pass over them...good luck 2 you.
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i am licenesed 2 and who said it was ok to go over it 3 times expecally at a 40% some has 2 have extra licenese 2 do a 40 and they have 2 work underneath a dr.
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To all who have replied....thank you so much. My doc agrees with all of you. He says there is no way that a 30% glycolic acid peel should have affected my face like it did. The good news is that my face continues to heal each day but my dermatologist says it could be 2-4 more months before it is totally healed. Once an area heals (the redness goes away), hyperpigmentation (brownish color) seems to follow. I have been told by my dermatologist that I can now mix Obagi Blender it a .05 Tretinion which, over time, should diminish the hyperpigmentation. Also, the doc recommended GloMineral makeup which has great coverage and many healing properties in it. Again...thanks!
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I had a 70% glycolic peel (one or two layers), and had ZERO reaction other than slight redness...no peeling, nothing. It sounds like they used something much stronger on you!
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Hi i am Beauty Therapist from England and have been performing glycolic peels for the past 3 years. As you say at the top of the page you believe and were told? that you had a 40% glycolic peel. Your dermatologist is correct it look's like the Tri-chloroacetic Acid (TCA) was used on you and this is under the list of 'medium' peels but is said to really improve fine lines but you should of been informed what they were using before the procedure. I have never personally informed clients to take medication after a peel if you were? But as i am not a doctor and only perform 30% facial peels it maybe different! Best of luck!
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Thank you so much for your reply. It is comforting to know that the 'Realself' readers care. Not that it makes a difference now but do you think that I should have started the Valtrex a few days before the peel and not the 'day of'? or do you think perhaps 500 mg wasn't strong enough to prevent the outbreak....if that is what happened? The dermatologist I'm seeing suspects either it wasn't a glycolic peel but instead it was a TCA and/or that it wasn't neutralized properly. What I am wondering now is, if there is permanent discoloration, can it be corrected and if so, how? Do you know anything about this.
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I had a 50% glycolic peel yesterday and now my eyes are very swollen. I asked my dermatolgist why did I have such bad swelling and she asured me that the swelling will go away. How long was your face swollen? Does the swelling completely go away? I am in a panic. Please help!!
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Healing time is 2 weeks the most..
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I would think it was caused because of the combination with the Valtrex as well
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