Can Deep Chem Peel Cause Permanent Damage?

i had a deep chem peel in may of this year. my eyes look worse. i had some fine lines prior, now i have bags (never had!) and deeper wrinkles. will this improve? if not, what can be done about it? should the plastic surgeon be responsible to fix it?

Doctor Answers 4

Preventing problems with a chemical peel

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Any chemical treatment to the face has the potential to cause damage.  You should go to an experienced physician when applying these chemicals.  In general Glycolic Acid peels are intra-epidermal peels and are unlikely to cause permanent scarring.  TCA peels must be applied appropriately and require pre-peel protocols to prevent problems.

The Punctuated Phenol Peel Is A Safer Kind of Deep Peel for Improving Wrinkles and Crepeyness

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Chemical peels have been a reliable mainstays of the cosmetic physician's toolbox for well over a century. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), Jessner's solution, salicyclic acid, glycolic acid and phenol have all been used satisfactorily in varying concentrations and protocols for treating acne scarring, pigmentary problems, wrinkles and other unwanted manifestations of photoaging for many decades before lasers came on the scene. However, deeper peels, such as those employing TCA in concentrations of 50% or higher or the Baker's Phenol Peel, while offering more dramatic results, entail a risk of scarring, irreversible loss of pigmentation or permanent hyperpigmenation. For this reason, despite its efficacy, deep peeling fell in considerable disfavor in the last twenty years.

If a deeper peel is needed, I prefer to perform the "Punctuated Phenol Peel"--a very recent advance in chemical peeling technique, and one that is sure to put chemical peeling squarely back on the map and in competition with the more expensive, more heavily hyped laser and light-based therapies currently intensively marketed to consumers.

The procedure is simple, requires no sedation, and has little or no downtime. Using 88% plain phenol, fine lines and crinkles are treated in punctuated (i.e. fractionated or pixelated)  fashion. Using a very finely pointed applicator, the chemical is applied in a serial spot fashion with each spot separated from surrounding treatment spots by approximately one-quarter inch. The use of serial spot coverage, rather than coverage of whole areas, allows for rapid recovery as healing takes place from the intervening non-treated areas. It is precisely the same rational for the use of fractional lasers.

The "Punctuated Phenol Peel" technique is a novel approach to rejuvenation that limits the overall potential for toxicity and downtime of traditional deep peels while constituting focal spots of more intense peeling. Wrinkle lines and crepeyness can be traced in this punctuated fashion, and treatment sessions can be repeated at monthly intervals if necessary until the desired result is obtained. When appropriate, acne scarred areas may likewise be treated in a punctuated fashion.

Consultation with and treatment by an aesthetic physician experienced in chemical peeling is an absolute must for determining  the appropriateness of this novel approach for any particular situation. For the current situation, I would suggest you return to the plastic surgeon who initially treated you. 


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Hi! Some of the more common side effects of deep chemical peels can include discoloration and scarring. It is important to follow up with the provider that did the peel to ensure that you have not experienced any complications. I am not sure why you have developed creepyness under the eyes but if it is deep wrinkles that you are worried about, perhaps you should consider trying a CO2 fractionated ablative laser treatment which will significantly improve the texture and tone of the skin. Also, neurotoxins such as Botox or Dysport will soften and relax any moderate to fine lines around the eyes. 

Diane Walder, MD
Miami Dermatologist

Check back with your doctor regarding your deep chemical peel.

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Check back with your doctor regarding your deep chemical peel.  If He/She is an expert he/she will know what to recommend for you.

Mark Taylor, MD
Salt Lake City Dermatologic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 18 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.