Chemical peel

Types of peels:

Chemical peel is a treatment technique to eliminate cosmetic defects and/or skin lesions within the epidermis or within the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is composed of the outermost layers of cells in the skin. While applying medical peels, particular layers of epidermis may be removed, at different depths. Other terms for 'peel' are: abrasion, flake off, chemabrasion, ablation, chemexfoliation.

Classification of chemical peels with regard to depth of operation:

  • superficial (light) - removes the outer layer of skin (epidermis),
  • medium - removes skin cells from the epidermis and from portions of the upper part of your middle layer of skin (dermis),
  • deep - removes skin cells from the epidermis and from portions of the mid to lower layer of your dermis.

Note: The deeper the peels the more side effects/complications that can arise, e.g. skin discolouration, scars, infections (e.g. cold sore).

Types of peels:

  • mechanical peels - epidermis abrasion with corundum or diamond encrusted discs or corundum crystals (microdermabrasion),
  • physical peels - administered with laser (CO2, Er:YAG), liquid nitrogen, nitrous oxide,
  • chemical peels (chemabrasion);

Chemical peel is a treatment in which a chemical solution of different strength is applied to the skin, depending upon the type of problem being treated and the condition of the skin. Most frequently, glycolic acid is used, which is obtained from sugar cane, and also other fruit acids (AHA) that can be found in nature. Additionally, trichloroacetic acid is applied. The substances penetrate the skin and affect the remodelling process of collagen and elastin, which support the body's tissues. Therefore, a series of peels supports the epidermis and skin renewal, as well as it has a rejuvenating effect, eliminating signs of skin ageing: pigmentation, fine lines and other imperfections.

Indications for chemical peelings:

  1. Pigmented lesions:
    - chloasma
    - postinflammatory discolouration
    - lentigines
  2. Sun damage:
    -actinic keratosis (also called "solar keratosis")
  3. Age-related skin damage:
    - loss of skin firmness
  4. Scars
  5. Acne punctata, papulopustular acne
  6. Stretch marks
  7. Keratosis disorders:
    -dry skin
    -follicular keratosis


  • skin exposure to sun (very sunny summer),
  • skin allergies,
  • active cold sore,
  • skin prone to formation of keloids,
  • condition after face surgery (up to 2 months),
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding,
  • numerous melanocytic naevi,
  • numerous telangiectasias (also known as "spider veins")
  • condition after cryotherapy (up to 6 months),
  • autoimmune disorders (collagenoses, pemphiguses),
  • irritated or damaged skin (erosions, excoriations, abrasions),
  • severe forms of acne (numerous pimples, purulent cysts), require a prior pharmacological therapy,
  • oral treatment of vit. A (Roaccutane)-at least 6 month break is required;

Qualifying for the treatment:

  • for each type of peeling, patient qualification is performed by a doctor or cosmetologist,
  • medical history (includes general health status, diseases, allergies, previous medical beauty treatments, medications being taken currently, etc.),
  • dermatological examination,
  • settlement of patient's expectations (smoothing of wrinkles, removing acne scars, discolouration, etc.),
  • matching of appropriate type of peeling solution and the right percentage.
  • recommendations concerning preparation of skin before the treatment;

Before the peel:

  • 2 weeks before the peel it is recommended to prepare the skin for the treatment by applying one of the following creams that consist of: 1. AHA in concentration of 8-10% - lower the skin pH from 5,5 to 4,5, resulting in better effects of the treatment and patients with hypersensitivity to glycolic acid are identified, 2. hydroquinone or other skin lightening agents - for the treatment of discolouration, the right solution should be chosen by the doctor qualifying for the treatment,
  • a week before the planned peeling do not undergo epilation procedures, electrolysis, waxing, abrasive sponges, dermabrasion, retinoids and solutions causing skin irritation,
  • men should not shave on the day of the treatment.


  1. the patient puts on a facial cap or a headband, the neck and upper chest are covered,
  2. the skin is cleaned form any make-up,
  3. the skin surface is degreased with surgical spirit or special pre-peel liquid,
  4. sensitive areas, such as the areas around the eye and mouth, are protected by the application of petroleum jelly,
  5. to reduce the sensation of skin itching or burning, we use a cooling fan,
  6. active solution is applied to the skin and allowed to soak in.

General recommendations after the chemical peeling:

  • you should avoid sunbathing for 4 weeks,
  • you should wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30,
  • refrain from using AHA cream for 14 days,
  • to maintain and enhance the effect of peeling, creams with vit. C can be used two times a day,
  • make-up may be applied a few hours after the procedure (preferably after 24 hours),
  • it is important to resist the urge to scratch or rub the peeling epidermis,
  • intensive moisturising of the skin is recommended,
  • directly after the peeling or to sustain its effect cosmetology treatment can bring good effects;

Possible side effects and complications:

  • expect some redness of the skin after a chemical peel - it usually fades within a few days after the treatment,
  • perioral dermatitis,
  • activation of cold sore - for people who have a history of herpes outbreaks the doctor will prescribe Acyclovir for better heeling,
  • temporary pigmentation disorders - especially in people with existing hyperpigmentation, who do not use sunscreen or who scratch the exfoliating skin.

Contact your doctor promptly if you notice any signs of complications!