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Bristol Hospital

3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN

0117 906 4870
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What happens during a chemical peel?

Chemical peels are usually performed as an outpatient procedure. They can take from 30 minutes to one hour. Your eyes and hair will be protected. After thoroughly cleansing your face your consultant will apply one or more chemical solutions to small areas. The solution causes a controlled wound exposing new, healthy skin.

The duration of treatment and solution applied will determine the level of your chemical peel.

  • A light peel removes just the outer layer of skin and may be all that is needed to address uneven pigmentation, acne, dryness and fine wrinkles. A light peel may need to be repeated monthly to maintain your new look.
  • A medium peel removes more skin layers and addresses acne scarring, deeper wrinkles and uneven skin colour. A medium peel can be repeated every 6 - 12 months to maintain your new look. 
  • A deep peel may be used if you have deep facial wrinkles, sun damaged skin, scarring and uneven skin tone. The strongest chemical will be used. You may need pain medication and a local anaesthetic. Results from a deep peel can last up to 10 years.

During your chemical peel you may experience a burning or stinging sensation. Cool compresses may be applied.

Deeper peels may result in swelling which is likely to disappear after two weeks. Following a deep peel your skin may be red for up to three months.

Going home after a chemical peel

Be sure and ask if should arrange to have someone drive you home. Depending on what type of solution was applied, treated areas may feel similar to having sun burn. Your skin will scale and peel for 3-7 days following your procedure.

Medium or deep chemical peels may cause swelling or blisters that break and peel for 7 -14 days following your procedure. They may also require bandages for the first few days.

It is important to allow enough recovery time after a deep peel. Your consultant may recommend waiting two weeks before returning to work or normal activities.

After a chemical peel it is important to avoid any prolonged exposure to the sun. Your consultant will discuss followup care and advise you on products that will help maintain balance skin colour following your chemical peel.

Most people are pleased with the results of their chemical peel. As with any cosmetic procedure there could be complications:

  • Permanent discoloration of the skin
  • Developing abnormal pigmentation
  • Developing cold sores (if you have a history of herpes)
  • Scarring.