Chemical peels are for the treatment of fine and moderately deep wrinkles is the use of chemical peels. These peels vary amongst light, medium or deep depending on the area to be peeled and the depth of the crease. We use light peels, (glycolic acid) as a maintenance peel and use medium or deep peels (TCA) intermittently as needed for deeper wrinkles. Chemical peels also treat actinic keratosis – or pre-skin cancers. On the face, chemical peels are useful especially around the eyes and mouth but are also helpful for fine wrinkling throughout the face and neck. The particular area of the face and the depth of wrinkling determines which peel would be best suited for you.

We look at the aging process as an ongoing phenomenon. With this in mind, we believe that chemical peels should be thought of as an ongoing maintenance program. Light or medium peels done once, or twice per year can be expected to give the best results. We think this philosophy keeps your skin more natural and healthy.

Light peels can be done in the office setting without anesthesia. AHA home maintenance should be used 1 to 2 weeks prior to peel. The light chemical peel does not cause severe swelling or distortion of the skin. Mild burning occurs during the chemical peel which is generally rinsed off with water – neutralizing the acid. You might have what appears like a sunburn on the following 2-4 days, but this would not keep you from your normal activities ( assuming no sun exposure). Light chemical peels must be periodically repeated. A series of six peels is recommended, we suggest bi-weekly peels for the length of the series, then a peel bi-monthly for maintenance purposes. Maintenance lotions are also recommended between peels. Glycolic acid is an example of a light chemical peel. Jessner’s peels are also used as a light chemical peel, using lactic and salicylic acid, for problem skin.

If You’re Considering Chemical Peel

Chemical peels use a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of the facial skin by removing its damaged outer layers. It is helpful for those individuals with facial blemishes, wrinkles, and uneven skin pigmentation. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are used for this purpose. The precise formula used may be adjusted to meet each patient’s needs. Although chemical peels may be performed in conjunction with a facelift, it is not a substitute for such surgery, nor will it prevent or slow the aging process. This brochure provides basic information about certain types of chemical peel treatments and the results you might expect. It won’t answer all your questions since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Once you and your plastic surgeon have decided on a specific peel program, be sure to ask about any details that you do not understand.

Chemical peels are most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons — to enhance your appearance and self-confidence. Chemical peels may also remove pre-cancerous skin growths, soften acne facial scars and even control acne. In certain cases, health insurance may cover the peel procedure. Be sure to check your policy and contact your insurance company before the procedure is performed.

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids are the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light peels. These types of peels can provide smoother, brighter-looking skin for people who can’t spare the time to recover from a TCA peel. AHA peels may be used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Various concentrations of an AHA may be applied weekly or at longer intervals to obtain the best result. Your doctor will make this decision during your consultation and as the treatment proceeds. An alpha-hydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regimen to improve the skin’s texture.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
 can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. The results of TCA peel are usually less dramatic than and not as long-lasting as those of a phenol peel. In fact, more than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired result. The recovery from a TCA peel is usually shorter than with a phenol peel.

All chemical peels carry some uncertainty and risk. A chemical peel is normally a safe procedure when it is performed by a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon. However, some unpredictability and risks such as infection and scarring, while infrequent, are possible.

AHA peels may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting. However, as the skin adjusts to the treatment regimen, these problems will subside.

With a TCA peel, your healed skin will be able to produce pigment as always; the peel will not bleach the skin. However, TCA-peel patients are advised to avoid sun exposure for several months after treatment to protect the newly formed layers of skin.

Peel Formulas at a Glance

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs)

  • Smoothes rough, dry skin
  • Improves texture of sun-damaged skin
  • Aids in control of acne
  • Can be mixed with bleaching agent to correct pigment problems
  • Can be used as TCA pre-treatment


  • A series of peels may be needed
  • As with most peel treatments, sunblock use is recommended

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

  • Smoothes out fine surface wrinkles
  • Removes superficial blemishes
  • Corrects pigment problems


  • Can be used on neck or other body areas
  • May require pre-treatment with Retin-A or AHA creams
  • Treatment takes only 10-15 minutes
  • Preferred for darker-skinned patients
  • Peel depth can be adjusted
  • Repeat treatment may be needed to maintain results
  • Sunblock must be used for several months
  • Healing is usually fast