Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels are used in dermatology for a number of skin complaints and disorders.  There are many types of chemical peels from light ‘pamper peels’ to deep chemical peels.

Chemical peels cause variable levels of controlled injury to the skin.  The injured skin than relies on the bodies reparative process to heal and restore the skin.


What types of chemical peels are there?

Chemical peels are commonly grouped by the level of the skin that they penetrate and ‘peel’.  Superficial chemical peels penetrate to the top part of the second layer of skin called the papillary dermis.  Medium depth peels penetrate to the top part of the deeper layer of skin called the reticular dermis, whilst deep chemical peels penetrate to the bottom part of the reticular dermis.  Various chemicals are used to achieve the different types of peels as listed below.  Chemical peels should only be performed by trained practitioners.

Superficial Peel

Jessner’s solution (resorcinol, salicylic acid, lactic acid)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) such as glycolic acid up to 70%

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) up to 35%

Tretinoin solution up to 5%

Medium depth peel

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) 50%

Jessner’s solution + TCA 35%

70% Glycolic + TCA 35%


Deep peel

Baker/Gordon peel (rarely performed anymore).


At Melbourne Skin & Dermatology, we only perform certain types of superficial peels.



How is the procedure performed?

After lying down in a suitable position and making sure the patient is comfortable, the practitioner will cleanse the face.  A degreasing solution may also be used.  The chemical peel is applied carefully to the treated skin and time is given for the peel to take effect.  With some types of chemical peels, a neutralizing solution may be used to stop the chemical peel.  A fan is used to help with any stinging or burning sensation that may otherwise be experienced.  A moisturizer or sunscreen may be applied after the peel.  Strict sun-protection is essential after any dermatological procedure.  The treatment may need to repeated.


What can I expect afterwards?

The reaction and result of the chemical peel will depend on what solution was used.  With very superficial and light peels, you may experience some redness and light peeling up to 3 days after the procedure.  Medium depth peels will result in at least 7 days of redness, peeling and swelling.  Results of peels are usually seen anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after the procedure.


What are the possible risks of a chemical peel?

The risks of chemical peels depend on a variety of factors including the depth of the peel and patient factors.  Infection, scarring and pigmentation changes are always possible, especially when routine skin-care advice is not followed.  It is essential that anyone considering a chemical peel discuss the risks with their practitioner.

If you are interested in having a peel, please feel free to make an appointment with our, dermal therapists, cosmetic nurses or one of our dermatologists.

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