Chemical Peel - Aftercare Advice

Risks and Side Effects

Common side effects are temporary, and include redness, dryness, stinging or burning, and slight swelling. With deep peels, you may permanently lose the ability to tan.

Chemical peels can, however, have more serious risks and dangerous side effects that can be permanent. These include:

  • Darkening or lightening of the skin color. These can be more common in people with darker skin.
  • Scarring. This can be permanent.
  • Infections. People with herpes simplex may experience flares following a treatment. Very rarely, chemical peels can cause fungal or bacterial infections.
  • Heart, liver, or kidney damage. The phenol used in deep peels can actually damage the heart muscle, kidneys, and liver, and cause irregular heartbeats.

What to expect after

Recovery time varies depending on which chemical peel you received. During recovery, follow your practitioner’s aftercare instructions faithfully. They’ll give you specific instructions for how often to wash your face and moisturize, and which products you should use to do so. 

  • Try to stay out of the sun until your skin has healed, and always wear your sunscreen; apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 every morning
  • Avoid using makeup or other cosmetics until your practitioner gives you the go-ahead
  • You can use ice packs for 20 minutes at a time, or a cool fan, to help relieve discomfort at home
  • When cleansing, do not scrub - Use a gentle cleanser as directed by your practitioner
  • With any peel, your skin may start to peel 1-3 days after the peel and continue to peel for up to 5 more days; however, it is also possible your skin may not peel at all
  • Do not peel, pick or scratch the treated area, as this may result in scarring
  • Apply polysporin, bacitracin or Vaseline to dry flaky areas or as directed by your practitioner
  • Do not have any other facial treatments for at least 2 weeks after your peel or until the skin is smooth and back to normal
  • If given a cortisone cream by your practitioner, please apply it 1-3 times per day to red irritated areas or as directed
  • Always wear your sunscreen; apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 every morning

Light chemical peels

Recovery time is about four to seven days. Your skin may temporarily be lighter or darker.

Medium chemical peels

Your skin will recover about five to seven days after a medium chemical peel, though you may have redness that persists for months. Your skin will initially swell, and then form crusts and brown blotches before revealing new skin.

Deep chemical peels

Deep chemical peels will cause severe swelling and redness, with burning or throbbing sensations. It’s common for the eyelids to swell shut. It will take about two weeks for the new skin to develop, though white spots or cysts may last several weeks. It’s common for redness to last for several months.

I confirm that potential complications for the procedure undertaken and aftercare instructions have been explained to me. I agree it is my responsibility to read and understand the information provided in this form and to follow the instructions on it, until the site has healed.

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