Chemical Peel Side Effects

i would guess that a chemcial peel would have some complication or side effect risks.  what should i be aware of before getting a facial peel?

Doctor Answers 14

Chemical Peel Side Effects

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You first want to go to a qualified establishment and express your concerns and desires.  Some side effects can be peeling, blanching or discoloration.  Most of this depends on the depth of the peel, so you will probably need a series of peels to get the best results.  The first peel should be less intense with little or no burning or side effects, and then you can go up to a higher strength from there as your provider feels is safe and necessary.  Protecting and taking care of your "new" skin afterwards is imperative, so use sunscreen and follow any post procedures with each peel you have done.  Good luck!


Fayetteville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 127 reviews

Reducing risks

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Alongside any cosmetic treatment, there is risks and complications however as physicians, we are able to reduce risks by following some basic rules. 

Unwanted side effects are hyper or hypopigmentation, swelling, or infection. 
Expected side effects are redness or erythema, flaking, dryness and can be easily managed.

You can manage these risks by doing the following; sun protection, prepping your skin pre chemical peels, avoiding active ingredients 1 to 2 days before appointment, consulting with an experienced cosmetic provider and following aftercare instructions.

All the best,

Dr Davin Lim

Chemical peels have risks that are lowered by being cautious

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There are many risks with chemical peels (trichloroacetic acid, jessners peel, salicylic, rescorcinal, lactic acid, vitalase, retinoic acid, etc) including but not limited to, scarring, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, acne flares, eyelid malposition, infection, poor results. There are many levels of peels and their is alot information out there that helps surgeons determine how deep they are when they do chemical peels. Knowledge of the depth of the peels helps you determine how aggressive you are and also to avoid problems. The more you know the better and the safer your chemical peel can be.

Thanks for reading!

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Chemical Peel

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Chemical peels do have complications and side effect potential. These tend to go up if the chemical peel is more potent, ie. deeper peels are more likely have complications than superficial ones. Side effects also depending on your skin type and tone; darker skin tones are more likely to have pigmentation post-procedure. Also, more sensitive skin may react more to acids in the peel. There is always the possibility of herpes outbreak especially if getting treated around the mouth and if you have a history of cold sores. I would recommend that you go to a facility that spends the time to assess your goals and your skin type and chooses an appropriate peel accordingly. Remember, the stronger the peel, the deeper it will penetrate, and the more likely you are to see potential side effects. However, things can be done minimize the chance of pigment issues such as use of a bleaching agent ( ie. hydroquinone) for several weeks before the procedure. Hope this helps!

Sapna A. Patel, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Chemical Peel Side Effects

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Some side effects of a chemical peel include irritation, peeling, redness and dryness. After a chemical peel your skin will be very sensitive you should avoid direct sunlight. You should wear a broad spectrum sun protection. For deep peels you should avoid direct sunlight for several days to 2 weeks. 

Hardik Soni, MD (not currently practicing)
Summit Emergency Medicine Physician

Chemical Peels and Side Effects

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The main side effect of a chemical peel is local irritation and peeling after the peel.  Your physician should prescribe the proper emollients and sunscreens to use after your chemical peel.  The right chemical peel should be tailored to your skin type and the down time and results that you are seeking.  Best, Dr. Green

Chemical Peel side effects

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With all peels, skin can become sun sensitive afterward, why we always recommend that patients, after having a peel, avoid the sun and wear daily broad-spectrum sun protection. For lighter peels, an over-the-counter topical broad-spectrum sunscreen works best. For deeper, more intense peels, we recommend that patients avoid direct sun exposure for several days to two weeks.

Dennis Gross, MD
New York Dermatologist
4.7 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Peel side effects

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The side effects of peels include:

some swelling, especially with deeper peels

Your practitioner will go over them during your consultation so you can make an informed decision.

Chemical peel side effects varies according to depth

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Chemical peels are divided according to the depth of penetration into three groups:

1. Light peels (superficial): Glycolic, salicylic etc...

2. Medium depth:TCA

3. Deep peels: Phenol.

The clinical effect and also side effects varies according to the depth. Superficial and medium depth side effects are mainly related to local skin issues e.g hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, scars etc.

Deep peels especialy phenol have side effects related to their toxicity e.g cardiac arrythmias and liver problems.

TCA is the most useful in my mind. The concentration can vary 15-45%. The peel is very technique dependent and must be used with care.

Hope that helps!

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Peel risks

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The basic risks of a chemical peel are scars, hypopigmentation, and hyperpigmentation.  There are many types of peels and many strengths of peels designed to peel down to varying skin depths.  A phenol peel can even be absorbed and have systemic side effects.

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.