Your cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist should be your primary source for answers about a specific chemical peel. However, you can also educate yourself in advance so you know what questions to ask. Let this FAQ list help you build your knowledge about facial peels.

Should I ask for the facial peel I want by brand name?

It’s fine to ask your cosmetic surgeon about a specific facial peel. However, don’t get too hung up on brand names. It’s more important for you to understand the ingredients in the peel, how they work, their concentration and which type is right for your skin. That’s why you have a consultation before the peel. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask lots of questions. It’s more helpful to focus on the problems you want to fix (fine lines, dark spots, etc.) rather than demanding a peel you’ve heard about on TV or from friends.

Does getting a chemical peel hurt?

A light facial peel should not hurt at all. You may feel a tingling or itching sensation during treatment. A medium-depth peel may cause stinging and burning. The technician performing your chemical peel may use a cool fan, cold compresses or a topical anesthetic to make you more comfortable. Some patients need a mild sedative during a medium peel. A deep chemical peel is too painful to undergo without at least a topical anesthetic and sedation. Some patients are placed under general anesthesia so they are completely unconscious during a deep peel.

The healing phase after a medium peel may entail swelling, discomfort and irritation. Using an aloe vera gel with Lidocaine and cold compresses may help with these symptoms. A deep peel usually results in some throbbing or burning pain during the first 48 hours of recovery. Many patients manage these symptoms with pain medications prescribed or approved by their cosmetic surgeon.

What makeup should I wear after a chemical peel?

Once your cosmetic surgeon gives you the OK to wear makeup, look for a foundation that can be applied with a very light touch. It should be oil free and non-comedogenic (it shouldn’t clog your pores). Many patients find that mineral-based makeup works well for covering redness after a chemical peel. A foundation with an SPF of at least 20 is the best option since you need as much sun protection as you can get after a chemical peel.

What are the best facial peels for dark skin?

This depends on which cosmetic surgeon you ask. Some providers recommend only superficial peels for darker skin. Others prefer the TCA peel for deeply pigmented skin because it doesn’t tend to cause unwanted bleaching. Deep peels are never recommended for patients with dark skin because the ingredients and the depth of skin wounding involved can cause permanent pigment loss. Your best bet is to seek out a doctor who has significant experience performing successful chemical peels in patients with dark complexions. You may need to start with a lower concentration peel and see how it affects your skin before moving to a more powerful peel.

How long do the results of a chemical peel last?

Part of this depends on how well you care for your skin; part of it depends on the depth of the peel. The results of a light-to-medium peel may last for several months. The results of a medium-deep peel may last for more than a year. A deep peel may provide results that last for five or more years. Preventing further sun damage and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking can help keep your face looking younger longer.

Are at-home facial peels safe?

It is possible to use a very mild facial peel safely at home. However, there is little quality control in the at-home chemical peel manufacturing industry. The ingredients may be harsher than you think. Plus, any errors in application can cause unwanted side effects including burning and scarring. If you have sensitive skin, you may also experience unexpected complications. There are a number of benefits to having a consultation and a professional-grade chemical peel. You can be more certain that the peel is the right formula and concentration for your particular skin type. In addition, you will be better prepared to care for your skin during the healing stage. Your cosmetic surgeon may recommend at home products like glycolic acid creams to help you maintain your results after an in-office peel.

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