Recovery procedure and possible risks of a chemical peel

A chemical peel helps reduce fine lines around the mouth and eyes, and helps improve the appearance of scars, dark patches, freckles and age spots. The procedure involves applying a chemical solution like glycolic acid to trigger a controlled wound after which new skin takes its place. There however are some things you need to do before and after the peel, and some risks associated with the procedure.


 Before the peel


It is important that you inform your doctor about any history of repetitive cold sores, scarring or facial x-rays you’d taken. You may have to stop taking some drugs before the chemical peel, and use other medications like Retin-A, glycolic acid or Renova to prepare your skin. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or antiviral drugs.


Your doctor will determine the depth of the peel, which is based on your skin condition and your treatment goals. It’s better if you ask your doctor in advance if you need to make arrangements to have someone drive you home after the peel.

After the peel

Based on the type of chemical peel, reactions similar to a sunburn occurs after the peel. Generally there is redness followed by scaling which ends after 3 to 7 days. If you have a mild peel, you may need to repeat the peel at 1-4 week intervals till you get required look.

However in case of medium-depth and deep peeling, there may be swelling and blisters that end up broken, crusty, turns brown or may peel off after 7 to 14 days. If required, you can repeat the medium-depth peel in 6 to12 months.

You may have to wear some bandages for a few days on some part, or all of the skin which was treated. As your new skin is fragile, it’s better avoiding the sun for a few months after a chemical peel.

Possible risks and complications

There is a chance of some skin types developing a temporary or permanent change in the color of the skin after the chemical peel. The chances of this are increased if you take birth control pills, subsequently get pregnant or have a family history of facial brownish discoloration.

There are risks of some people developing scars on certain parts of the face. You needn’t worry if this happens as the scar can be treated with good results. However if you have a history of herpes outbreaks, there is a small chance of the chemical peel reactivating cold sores. Once again, you needn’t worry about this as your doctor can prescribe some medications to prevent or treat that.