“Ensure that you take adequate time off from work,” says Taglienti. “For most people, this means two weeks. Granted, everyone heals differently, but if you take a full two weeks to rest after surgery, you will not feel as sore and tired when you return to work. Patients who do not give themselves a chance to heal properly can cause needless tension on the wound, and impede wound healing.”
“Unwanted side effects are hyper or hypopigmentation, swelling, or infection,” says Dr. Davin Lim, a Brisbane, Queensland dermatologist, in a RealSelf Q&A. “Expected side effects are redness, flaking, and dryness, and can be easily managed. You can manage these risks by doing the following: sun protection, prepping your skin before chemical peels, avoiding active ingredients one to two days before treatment, and consulting with an experienced cosmetic provider and following aftercare instructions.”
During a medium chemical peel, your doctor will use a gauze, special sponge, or a cotton-tipped applicator to apply the chemical solution to your face. This may contain glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid. A blue color may be added to the trichloroacetic acid, commonly known as a blue peel. The skin will begin to whiten, and your doctor will apply a cool compress to the skin. You may feel stinging or burning for up to 20 minutes. No neutralizing solution is needed, though they may give you a hand-held fan to cool your skin. If you’ve had the blue peel you will have a blue coloring of your skin that may last for several days after the peel.
The chemical solution for body chemical peels is typically comprised of a combination of trichloroacetic acid (the main ingredient in a medium-depth skin peel) and glycolic acid (the main ingredient of a mild peel). The solution for body chemical peels is typically formulated to be slightly stronger than the chemical solution used for light or medium facial skin peels, though it is milder than the phenol solution used for deep skin peels.
“There are many different types and depths [of peels], and they address different skin concerns and conditions,” says Dr. Neel Bector, a Mississauga, Ontario physician, in a chemical peel recovery Q&A. “A great peel with minimal downtime is a Jessner—it works well for pore size, scarring, and hyperpigmentation. You can expect some light peeling lasting approximately three days.”
Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct functional impairments caused by burns; traumatic injuries, such as facial bone fractures and breaks; congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palates or cleft lips; developmental abnormalities; infection and disease; and cancer or tumors. Reconstructive plastic surgery is usually performed to improve function, but it may be done to approximate a normal appearance.
All chemical peels remove outer layers of the skin, though how many layers depends on the intensity of the peel. After a healing period, which also varies with the intensity level, skin is left feeling softer and smoother. Superficial issues such as acne or acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation should be improved, if not completely corrected. And because chemical peels sweep away complexion-dulling dead skin cells, they leave faces with a radiant glow.
Your doctor may numb the area with a topical anesthetic, especially if you’re receiving a deep peel. For deep peels, your doctor may also use a regional anesthetic, which will numb large areas. They are particularly likely to do this if you’re having your face and neck treated. For deep peels, you’ll also be given an IV, and your heart rate will be closely monitored.
Deep chemical peels involve a longer procedure and longer recovery time that lasts up to several months in some cases. Patients who want to correct blotches caused by sun exposure or age, minimize coarse wrinkles, or remove a pre-cancerous growth may benefit from a deep peel. There are certain factors which must be taken into consideration when contemplating a deep chemical peel. Darker-skinned patients and individuals with heart problems are not ideal candidates. Potential chemical peel candidates should be aware that the treatment may take an hour or more, and may require sedation. Anyone who decides on this procedure should be prepared for a long, slow recovery period, and should wear sunscreen whenever exposed to sun.
“Believe it or not, patients who are overweight are malnourished. What that means is that their capacity to heal is very poor,” says Grossman. “Patients who are malnourished have more seromas or fluid accumulations. In fact, about 50% of all patients will form a seroma when not stabilized nutritionally. So, at my practice we have an extensive approach to nutrition before and after the surgery.”
Additionally, recent studies have found that certain chemical peels can help reverse melasma, a type of hyperpigmentary disorder and “notorious dermatosis” that is often resistant to treatments, including laser treatments. (8) Melasma is a common chronic form of hyperpigmentation of the skin that can have a serious impact on someone’s self-esteem and quality of life.