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What is chemical peel?

A chemical peel is a facial treatment that will significantly improve the tone and texture of your skin by removing the damaged outer layers of your skin.

Young woman before and after cosmetic procedure on light background.jpg

Who is a candidate for Chemical Peel?

Chemical peels are indicated for anyone who wants to improve the texture and appearance of their skin due to damage from aging, sun, acne, acne scarring, or dark spots. Chemical peels are also proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.


You are not considered a candidate for a chemical peel if you have any of these skin conditions at the peel site: infection or disease, cut or broken skin, sunburn, current Herpes simplex 1 sore, current psoriasis outbreak, eczema, dermatitis, or rosacea. You are also not a candidate if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have taken Accutane within the last 6 months.

Is it safe?

Chemical peels are completely safe when they are performed by a trained and certified provider. Your provider should be able to assess your skin to determine the strength and type of peel that is appropriate for your skin. Complications or side effects include temporary or permanent changes in skin color, scarring, and reactivation of cold sores but these are rare when a peel is performed by a qualified provider.

 types of chemical peels range in strength from mildly superficial to deeply resurfacing – alpha hydroxy acid peels (AHA), beta hydroxy acid peels (BHA). 

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) – glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid.
This is the mildest chemical peel formula and produces light peels for treatment of fine
wrinkles, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne.
They are effective in a series and have very little downtime.
AHA peels may cause stinging, skin redness and mild irritation.


Beta hydroxy acid peels (BHA)
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. The salicylic acid is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and it works great for acne, also reduces the bumps and discolored spots associated with acne and controls the sebum secretion.

These mild to moderate chemical peels are sometimes referred to as “lunch time” peels, because it takes little time to perform and the patient may return to their activities without any disruptions.

Is it painful?

A chemical peel can sting but does not cause a great deal of pain. You may experience stinging, redness, irritation and crusting after your peel, but this is normal and will lessen in the days following your peel. The stronger your peel is, the more it will sting, and more redness, swelling, and irritation is to be expected, but these symptoms can be lessened by using creams or gels prescribed/ provided by your provider.

How long does Chemical Peel take?

Your entire appointment should take under an hour. The actual chemical itself is only left on your skin for about 3 to 5 minutes, but you will spend some time with your provider consulting, prepping your skin, and then moisturizing your skin after the chemical is removed.


How often does Chemical Peel need to be performed?

You should notice improved skin tone, texture, and clarity from a single peel, but the number of treatments needed varies from person to person. Once desired results are achieved, patients can undergo maintenance treatments by having 2-3 chemical peels a year. The better your skin care routine, the less maintenance you will need to retain results. You will need to wait at least two weeks to one month in between chemical peels.

How long do results last?

Results from a chemical peel depend greatly on your skin care routine. The better the routine, and the less sun exposure to the area treated, the longer your results will be able to be maintained. Since the effects of aging on skin are unavoidable, we recommend 2-3 maintenance peels per year to combat the effects of aging on your skin.

What do I need to do to prepare for Chemical Peel treatment?

One week before your peel you should avoid waxing, electrolysis, depilatory creams, and laser hair removal.Two to three days before the peel discontinue using any prescription topicals such as Retin-A, Differin or Tazorac, as well as any products containing retinol, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHA), beta hydroxyl acids (BHA) or benzoyl peroxide.Patients who have had any medical cosmetic facial treatments or procedures such as laser treatments, cosmetic fillers or other surgical procedures should wait until skin sensitivity has completely resolved before receiving a peel.

When will I see results?

Depending on the strength of the peel you have, you will see results in 1 to 21 days. Depending on your skin type and irregularities, you may need additional peels to see maximum results.

Peel Risks

May include but not limited to

  • Redness

Redness is the most common risk associated with a glycolic acid peel. The redness normally goes away after a few days, but it can last for months after undergoing a deep chemical peel.

  • Scarring

While extremely rare, it is possible to experience scarring after a glycolic acid peel. Your doctor can prescribe medications to reduce the appearance of scars.

  • Pigment Changes

Pigment changes are also rare but possible. The skin can become lighter or darker following the peel. Those who have darker skin tones are more likely to experience pigment changes. Dr. Mulholland assesses patients during the consultation and explains the likelihood of experiencing this risk.


  • Infections are not common at all but possible after a glycolic acid peel. This includes fungal and bacterial infections, as well as flare-ups for those who have the herpes virus.

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