Chemical Peels (Medium-depth Peels)

Immediately after treatment:

Right after application of a chemical peel, the skin will sting or burn. The color of the skin after treatment will depend on the type of peel:

  • If the peel contains any amount of TCA, the treated skin will be white or have a “frosted” appearance with some redness visible underneath the white.
  • If the peel does not contain TCA, the treated skin will be red5.

After treatment, the skin will be sensitive to sunlight, so it is important to avoid sun exposure.5

Days and weeks after treatment:

  • In the days after treatment, the skin may be red and will begin to peel (desquamation will occur).
  • During this time, patients should wash the face with water and non-irritating soap and apply an antibiotic ointment to the skin.
  • Patients should avoid or minimize sun exposure and apply sunscreen for about 3 weeks after the treatment.
  • If the skin feels dry, patients may apply moisturizing cream to the skin. Patients are also allowed to apply make-up to camouflage redness and skin peeling.

Longer term:

Skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) and redness (erythema) may continue to be present for months after treatment.

References
  1. Levy LL, and Zeichner JA. Management of acne scarring, part II. A comparative review of non-laser-based, minimally invasive approaches. Am J Clin Dermatol. 13(5), 331-340 (2012).
  2. Uptodate.com. Management of acne scars. Available from: https://eresources.library.mssm.edu:3285/contents/management-of-acne-scars?source=search_result&search=management%20of%20acne%20scars&selectedTitle=1~27#H1673698. Last retrieved on 6 September, 2017.
  3. Landau M. Chemical peels. Clin Dermatol. 26(2), 200-8 (2008).
  4. Garg VK, Sinha S, and Sarkar R. Glycolic acid peels versus salicylic-mandelic acid peels in active acne vulgaris and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation: a comparative study. Dermatol Surg. 35(1), 59-65 (2009).
  5. Puri N. Efficacy of Modified Jessner’s Peel and 20% TCA Versus 20% TCA Peel Alone for the Treatment of Acne Scars. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 8(1), 42-5 (2015).
  6. Al-Waiz MM, and Al-Sharqi A. Medium-depth chemical peels in the treatment of acne scars in dark-skinned individuals. Dermatol Surg. 28(5), 383-7 (2002).
  7. Sachdeva S. Lactic acid peeling in superficial acne scarring in Indian skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 9(3), 246-8 (2010).
  8. Leheta TM, Abdel Hay RM, and El Garem YF. Deep peeling using phenol versus percutaneous collagen induction combined with trichloroacetic acid 20% in atrophic post-acne scars; a randomized controlled trial. J Dermatolog Treat. 25(2), 130-6 (2014).
  9. Park JH, Choi YD, Kim SW, Kim YC, and Park SW. Effectiveness of modified phenol peel (Exoderm) on facial wrinkles, acne scars and other skin problems of Asian patients. J Dermatol. 34(1), 17-24 (2007)
  10. Kontochristopoulos G, and Platsidaki E. Chemical peels in active acne and acne scars. Clin Dermatol. 35(2), 179-182 (2017).
  11. Brody HJ. Complications of chemical peeling. J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 15(9), 1010-1019 (1989).
  12. Erbağci Z, and Akçali C. Biweekly serial glycolic acid peels vs. long-term daily use of topical low-strength glycolic acid in the treatment of atrophic acne scars. Int J Dermatol. 39(10), 789-94 (2000).
  13. Mackee GM, and Karp FL. The treatment of post-acne scars with phenol. Br J Dermatol. 64(12), 456-9 (1952).