What is the recovery time after a chemical peel?
How much time should I put aside for recovery after I have a superficial chemical peel? The superficial chemical peel is the least invasive one.
Recovery time following a chemical peel depends on the type of peel and the strength of the chemical solution used. Phenol acid deep chemical peels are the strongest type of facial peel and often require 10 days or longer to heal.
At the other end of the spectrum you have light chemical peels, which focus primarily on the epidermis (the outer layer of skin), and usually only require three or four days of downtime. Light chemical peels can be an effective way to reduce fine lines, improve uneven skin tone, and treat superficially damaged skin. It sounds like you’re receiving a light peel, which means you’ll probably be back on your feet the day after the treatment and presentable within a few days of that (although note that the redness may persist for longer).
After your superficial peel, you’ll notice that your face is redder than normal and your skin may feel irritated. There’s no need for concern — these side effects are completely normal. Over the next week or so, you may also experience some flaking as the damaged outer layers of the epidermis peel away, revealing the new layer of beautiful, healthy skin underneath.
Your cosmetic dermatologist may provide you with a post-peel skin care regimen based on your skin type. It’s important that you follow these instructions carefully. This may involve using a gentle moisturizer to soothe irritated skin, and avoiding harsh cosmetic products (such as Retin-A and other topical retinoids) that may interfere with the healing. In addition, your plastic surgeon may advise you to refrain from exercise for a few days as the sweat can irritate the peeling skin.
You’ll also need to avoid sun exposure as much as possible following your chemical peel treatment. Your new skin is much more sensitive to the sun, which can increase the risk of sun damage and skin discoloration. Apply sunscreen as part of your daily skin care routine and limit sun exposure to get the best results from your chemical peel.
Recovery from chemical peel depends on the depth of the peel and the strength of the medical used. Typically, in my experience, we try to limit it to under 5 days for outpatients, and 7-8 days for patients who are getting their chemical peels with surgery (like a facelift). Of course the deeper peels have better results, so it's helpful to invest in the recovery time if possible.