Chemical peels are outpatient cosmetic surgery procedures that treat fine facial wrinkles, skin discoloration, minor acne scars, pore size, and oily, red or scaly skin. At Mayo Clinic, chemical peels aren't used to treat large pores or serious acne scars. Chemical peels may also be used after a face-lift or eyelid surgery or combined with other facial treatments to enhance results.
Your Mayo Clinic specialist will assess your needs and skin type and discuss with you the options for chemical peel. Mayo specialists perform two types of chemical peels:
Superficial peel (mild)
The chemical solution applied to your skin removes only part of the outer skin layer (epidermis). The result is usually a subtle change, giving you smoother skin, a healthy glow and a refreshed look. Superficial peels are sometimes called "the lunchtime peel."
Your Mayo Clinic specialist may give you an oral medication (sedative) to relax you before a superficial chemical peel. The treatment lasts from five to 20 minutes, and you may feel mild to moderate stinging. Discomfort is treated after the procedure with cold compresses, moisturizers and water misted onto the skin.
Your skin will be pink for 15 minutes to 24 hours while it heals. Final results are seen after a series of four to six peels spaced one to two weeks apart. Maintenance peels may be done once a month afterward.
Medium-depth chemical peels remove the epidermis and a small portion of the skin's middle layer (dermis). Mayo specialists recommend medium-depth chemical peels to treat fine wrinkles, sun damage, skin color abnormalities and precancerous spots.
Your Mayo Clinic specialist may give you an oral sedative, local anesthesia or IV (intravenous) anesthesia. The treatment lasts from 30 to 60 minutes. You may have moderate pain for a few hours, which can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications. You may need a facial bandage for one or more days.
Your skin will be bright pink to red, a sign of healing. New skin will replace the old within seven to 14 days after the chemical peel. Your skin may remain red during this period or longer. Final results are seen several weeks to three months after the procedure, as your skin assumes its normal color and texture. The results may last a few years or indefinitely, depending on the chemical solution used.
Mayo specialists will tell you how to care for your skin after chemical peel, using ointments, moisturizing creams and gentle facial cleansers to help remove the old skin.