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 39

Recovery time after a chemical peel

Hi there,

Recovery time is dependent on the strength of the chemical peel. With "stronger" superficial depth peels and "lighter" medium depth peels, you can often expect 5-7 days of peeling time. The peeling typically begins about 24-48 hours after the peel is applied. Prior to the start of peeling, your skin will begin to feel "tight" and wrinkled. Never forcefully pull any skin off after a chemical peel. You must allow the skin to peel off on its own. Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers for several weeks after the peel. Lastly, make sure to use sunscreen and practice sun avoidance after your peel.

Hope this helps!

San Francisco Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Downtime Varies With Depth of Peel

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. 

Zero to 14 days.

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
4.7 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

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Chemical Peel Recovery

Quick answer, we never know. Everybody’s skin reacts a bit differently – I’ve had patients with persistent, week-long redness after a lunchtime 30% glycolic acid peel and I’ve had patients not even peel after a trichloracetic acid 50%! Longer answer, here’s a general rule of thumb for peel severity, ranging from hours of redness/peeling to weeks. I’ve included several commonly used but not all peel ingredients. Malic Acid (fruit) > Mandelic Acid > Glycolic > Trichloraceitic > Jesner’s > Phenol. This is a general rule-of-thumb, but remember that an 80% glycolic may give you redness for longer than a 20% Trichloracetic, so varying concentrations very much count.

Bobby Buka, MD
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Different Strengths of Chemical Peels

In our office, we offer many different depths of chemical peels in order to accomodate any lifestyle. Our most minimal downtime comes from the SkinCeuticals Micropeel - which offers no downtime and with a series of these peels, you will get great results with reducing fine lines, pore size, and acne, all while making your skin more radiant. We also offer something called the "Party Peel" (SkinMedica Illuminize Peel), which is great to do the day of an event. It makes your skin glow and look young, fresh, and tight. You will not peel from this peel either. There is a period of downtime with the other peels that we offer ranging from 3-5 days to 7-10 days.

Jeffrey W. Hall, MD
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Chemical peel downtime

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
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Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels are an amazing treatment to reduce the appearance of fine lines, brown spots and congested pores.  There are many different strengths of peels available.  A peel with minimal downtime is the PCA Sensi Peel.  This peel is often done with Microdermabrasion and the results are amazing!  You will have an immediate glow and slight flaking will possibly occur 2-3 days later whicah will only last a couple of days.  You can return to work the same day as the peel and nobody will know you've had anything done.  This is why we refer to this treatment as the lunch time peel. This treatment would be a good choice for you.  Hope that helped.

W. John Bull, MD
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Chemical peel for busy professional

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
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Chemical Peel Recovery Tiem

Depending on the amount of time you have for recovery, 0-9 days. Remember, even if you have no visible peeling, you will still benefit. Your chemical peel will loosen and cause dead cells to shed. The type of chemical peel and length that it is left on can greatly impact the effect of the peel and the downtime associated with it.

Justin Harper, MD
Columbus Physician
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Recovery time for chemical peels

Every patient is different but the average down time for a medium grade peel is 5-7 days. The peel is applied, by day two the peeling starts and usually last for 3-4 days. If you are thinking of doing a deeper peel the down time is about 2 weeks and with a lighter "lunch time" peel there is no down time. 

You can talk to your provider about scheduling your peel so your heaviest days of peeling (usually day 2-3) can fall on your days off. 

Hope this helps, Dr Faraz

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.