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What Do Chemical Peels Feel Like?

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What Do Chemical Peels Feel Like?

Feb 1, 2022

On average, an adult sports about 22 square feet of skin — no wonder people all around the world spend more than $100 billion every year on skin care products.

When those products fail, many people turn to cosmetic treatments and procedures to diminish the signs of aging. In the United States, nearly a million folks a year opt for chemical peels to lift away their wrinkles, scars, and spots.

At Polavarapu Plastic Surgery in Fort Worth, Texas, we understand your desire to rid your face of imperfections, and we also understand that you may be wary of a treatment that uses chemicals to strip them away. Here, Dr. Kiran Polavarapu explains how chemical peels work and feel so you can decide whether this skin-clarifying treatment is right for you.


Chemical peels 101

Although there are several different types of chemical peels, they all work similarly: We apply an acidic solution to the surface of your skin, give it time to react, then remove it.

Depending on the condition of your skin and what you’re trying to accomplish with a chemical peel, we formulate the solution with a variety of acids to target your skin at the precise depth you need. Some blemishes reside in the uppermost layer of your skin, and some live deeper in the middle layer.

When you meet with Dr. Polavarapu, she assesses your skin and talks to you about your aesthetic goals and expectations before determining which type of chemical peel is best suited to you.

Light chemical peels

If you have minor skin issues, such as emerging fine lines and wrinkles, dry skin, freckles, acne, or a few sunspots, a light chemical peel may be all you need to clear them away.

Light chemical peels use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as fruit acids, glycolic acid, or lactic acid to gently react with your skin and exfoliate the top layer.

During the treatment, you may feel slight tingling or mild burning, but most people find light chemical peels tolerable and painless. In fact, light chemical peels have earned the nickname “lunchtime peels” because they’re quick and doable during a break from work.

Light chemical peels continue to work on your skin for 3-5 days, lifting off the top layer. The results aren’t dramatic, and neither is the flaking that occurs after the peel, which is perfect if your skin complaints are minor. Bonus: You can get an AHA chemical peel weekly to maintain your results.

Medium chemical peels

Some skin issues run a little deeper, so we use a stronger chemical peel that can target them. Formulated with trichloroacetic acid (TCA), medium chemical peels penetrate your epidermis and reach the top portion of your dermis as well.

When we apply the TCA peel, expect to feel a burning sensation followed by a period of stinging pain. You can also expect to experience some redness at first, then your face will feel tight. Around day three or four, your skin begins to shed in flakes and patches, taking with it your wrinkles, minor scars, and spots.

Depending on your unique issues, you may need a second TCA peel in a few months to get the results you want.

Deep chemical peels

For severe blemishes rooted lower in your dermis, you may need a deep chemical peel containing phenol, the strongest acidic ingredient used in these treatments. Although phenol provides the most dramatic and longest-lasting results, it’s also quite painful and should only be administered by a board-certified physician like Dr. Polavarapu.

Because phenol chemical peels reach into the deep layers of your skin, we give you a local anesthetic and a sedative before we begin the treatment. After we neutralize and remove the solution, we cover your face in a thick ointment to protect your skin and ease the pain.

Expect up to two weeks of down time as your skin goes through the peeling process. You’ll notice some oozing, crusting, and peeling over the coming days and weeks. The redness may last for a couple of months, but once it clears, you’ll enjoy your results for up to 10 years.

To learn more about chemical peels and which one is right for you, schedule an appointment at Polavarapu Plastic Surgery by calling our office or booking online.

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