Chemical Peels


TCA (trichloroacetic acid) has been used for at least fifty years to improve the skin by peeling off the damaged out layers of skin. When it is applied to the skin, When it is applied to the skin, TCA separates the damaged outer skin from the underlying elastin layer. This outer layer gradually peels off over the next 7-10 days, revealing a smoother and brighter skin. The recovery is painless.

TCA peels can be mild to medium depth depending on the strength that is used. They are done in the office with Pronox (laughing gas). Right after the peel it looks like a sunburn. After the procedure the skin will become tight and peeling will begin in 48-72 hours, lasting for 5 to 7 days. A thick moisturizer or petroleum jelly is applied while peeling. Sun exposure must be avoided and delaying a sunny vacation for at least 2 to 3 months after the peel is best. Once the peeling subsides, a chemical-free sunscreen should be worn daily.

Phenol Peels

Phenol peels are the deepest type of chemical peel. Phenol penetrates the skin deeper than TCA. It is a chemical peel used to rejuvenate severely sun damaged skin and get rid of deep, coarse wrinkles. Phenol peels have a very dramatic result, but the recovery is difficult and risks are greater compared to TCA and other, lighter peels.

Several factors must be taken into consideration before having a phenol peel. Phenol’s bleaching effect makes it a procedure that is not ideal for dark-skinned patients and for those who need spot treatments on noticeable areas of the face. It could result in uneven skin tone. Also, patients with certain heart conditions are not good candidates for deep chemical peels.

Since phenol peels are the most aggressive type of skin peel and need to done under careful monitoring, they are primarily done at the out-patient surgery center under general anesthesia. If you are a candidate for a spot peel it may be done in the office.

After the peel a thick ointment such as petroleum jelly is applied to the skin. Pain can last for up to 1 week and swelling for 6 weeks. It is best to plan to be out of work for 10 to 14 days. Makeup can be applied in 10 to 14 days. The skin will be red to pink for 3 to 6 months. A chemical-free sunscreen must be worn daily to protect the new skin. No tanning for 1 year.