Sun exposure after 35% chemical peel and now have hyperpigmentation. Is it permanent?

I had a 35% TCA chemical peel from my board certified plastic surgeon about 5 wks ago. I used SPF 50 sunscreen but still got sun exposure from driving several hours in a car. Now I have hyperpigmentation. Went back to Dr. and she gave me hydroquinone crème. Will the hyperpigmentation go away?

Doctor Answers 7


This pigmentation issue usually fades with time, but can be slower than we'd like to go away.   Get going on the sunscreen!

Hydroquinone cream will help, as will other fading agents, like kojic acid or azelaic acid.

All the best,

Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Hyperpigmentation after a TCA peel

You must use SPF 50+ daily, even if you are indoors, and re-apply every 2 hours if you must be outside and wear a broad-brimmed hat.  Also use a mineral powder for more protection.  There are several fading creams that can be used to fade the pigmentation but it can take many months.  Follow up with the surgeon if the pigment does not fade in a few more months.

Martie Gidon, MD, FRCPC
Toronto Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is never permanent.

If you get dark patches after a peel it is due to sun exposure or irritation and will always disappear with time. Bleaching creams and light peels help resolve it quicker. Sincerely,
 David Hansen,MD

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

PIH following peel

When the skin is pink, the sun rays can cause hyperpigmentation. Always re-apply sun screens every 2 hours if out in the sun. Glass in cars do not block UVA +UVB rays, so re-apply often. The hydroquinone may only help as you may need some laser treatments. 

David A. F. Ellis, MD
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation following a chemical peel and sun exposure

You have most likely developed post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH.  This can be settled down by the use of products like Lytera or hydroquinone. It will likely take up to 10 weeks using the products  for you to see a result.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Hyperpigmentation from sun exposure following a chemical peel may or may not go away.

Hyperpigmentation from sun exposure following a chemical peel may last for years in darker skin types.  If you have a lighter complexion, your chances are better that the hyper pigmentation will go way.  Good sun protection going forward and use of skin bleaches such as hydroquinone, Lytera or Lumixyl can be helpful.  The Cosmion Mask with 20% Vitamin C is also safe on darker skin types and helpful in bleaching post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  The Fraxel Dual laser and some other carefully perfumed Q-Swtiched lasers and a few other lasers can also be helpful.  Consult with a dermatologist before doing anything.

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

Hyperpigmentation can occur even without sun exposure.

We call this post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  The hydroquinone is helpful but some of the hyper pigmentation may also resolve on its own.  Retin A is also helpful so talk with your surgeon about this.  Whatever is not fully resolved can be removed with a bit more chemical peeling.

Kenneth D. Steinsapir, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 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.