Chemical Peel

Debunked: 7 Myths about Chemical Peels

Chemical peels have long been a part of facial rejuvenation, but negative myths about chemical peels abound. You may be surprised to learn just how powerful peels can be.

Here we debunk seven common myths about chemical peels and your skin:

Courtesy of AAFPRS

Myth No. 1: Chemical peels sting

Not all chemical peels burn the skin or cause any discomfort. In fact, some are really mild. Others go deep and can cause some degree of discomfort. The deeper the peel, the more significant the sting, downtime and results.

Glycolic acid peels are among the mildest. Trichloracetic acid (TCA) peels tend to be medium strength, with phenol peels the strongest. Your doctor will pair the peel to your skin's needs and the amount of downtime you are willing to accept. Cost may also be a factor in your decision, as deeper peels are more expensive.

Myth No. 2: Chemical peels won't have any real impact on my skin

Not true. Chemical peels can be very effective for reducing fine lines (especially under the eyes and around the mouth); correcting mild scarring; helping to treat certain types of acne; fading sun spots, age spots, liver spots, freckles, or blotchiness; and rejuvenating skin texture and color. There are certain things peels can't do, however, such as tighten loose or sagging skin, remove deep scars, change pore size or remove broken blood vessels.

Myth No. 3: Nobody gets chemical peels anymore

Not accurate! In 2012, there were 1.1 million chemical peels performed in the U.S., up 2 percent from 2011, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Chemical peels are consistently popular largely because they can make a pronounced difference in the look and feel of your skin.

Myth No. 4: Chemical peels are just for faces

Peels can be done on the neck, chest, back, arms or hands.

Myth No. 5: Chemical peels are totally safe

Nothing in medicine is totally safe. The good news is that serious complications are rare with chemical peels, especially when they are performed by an experienced professional. Risks may include infection, unplanned pigment changes and scarring.

Myth No. 6: Anyone can have a chemical peel

Not everyone is a candidate for chemical peels. For example, if you have oral herpes (cold sores or fever blisters) and have an outbreak before your peel heals, the virus can infect the treated area and cause severe scarring. You should not have a chemical peel if you've used the potent acne drug Accutane (isotretinoin) in the last year, because this too can increase your chances of excessive scarring.

Other factors that may affect your candidacy include recent radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer; sunburn, windburn or broken skin in the treatment area; and/or recent waxing or depilatory use in the treatment area. Chemical peels are minimally invasive, but not everyone can or should undergo this type of procedure. Have a candid conversation with your doctor before scheduling your chemical peel.

Myth No. 7: It's one and done with chemical peels

Not true. You will see a difference in your skin after one peel, but a series of peels will likely be recommended to see more significant results.

  • Halaas 58x57

    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

    60 E. 56th Street
    3rd Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    (332) 239-6439

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    Mune Gowda, MD

    3270 West Big Beaver
    Suite 415
    Troy, MI 48084

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    Sean Maguire, MD

    Physician's Center for Beauty
    24 Chenoweth Lane
    Louisville, KY 40207
    (866) 774-9105