Chemical Peels

Chemical Peels


Chemical peels remove the superficial layers of dead skin, revealing the smoother, luminous skin below. In a chemical peel treatment, an acid is applied to the skin which induces exfoliation, tightening, and collagen stimulation.

Chemical peels may be classified as superficial, medium, or deep, depending on the depth of penetration of the active ingredient used. Dr. Chung and her staff offer superficial and medium-depth peels for their phenomenal results and high safety profile.

Chemical peels are usually performed on the face to remove facial wrinkles, smooth skin texture, and eliminate uneven pigmentation and brown spots. The peels may also be used safely on the neck, chest, and hands.

Superficial chemical peels

Superficial peels are the mildest form of chemical peel and are typically comprised of alphahydroxy acids (such as glycolic and lactic acid) or betahydroxy acids (such as salicylic acid). Superficial peels are suitable for all skin types and remove the epidermal layer of the skin.  Because these peels are so mild and can be performed in 15 to 30 minutes, superficial peels are known as “lunchtime peels” and may be performed by our medical aesthetician.

Medium chemical peels

Medium depth peels penetrate down into the papillary dermis of the skin. These peels are performed by Dr. Chung, who uses a specific combination of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and Jessners solution to achieve optimal results. TCA is considered the gold standard of chemical peeling agents, given its versatility and safety.

Am I a good candidate for a chemical peel?

You may be an excellent candidate for a chemical peel if you are seeking a less invasive, non-surgical way of improving the appearance of your face. In general, a chemical peel treatment works to:

  • reduce the appearance of fine lines
  • improve the appearance of acne scarring
  • improve skin discoloration such as age spots
  • improve skin texture and tone
  • remove precancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis

Some patients have a single medium depth chemical peel, whereas others may benefit from a series of superficial peels. Depending on your skin type, individualized goals, and time available for recovery, Dr. Chung will design a skin care program just for you.

What happens during a chemical peel?

Superficial peel

The skin is first cleaned in preparation for the peel. The chemical is then applied to the skin with a small brush, gauze, or cotton-tipped applicators. After the active ingredients have been left on the skin for several minutes, water is used to neutralize the acid and end the chemical reaction; in some instances, the solution may be left one overnight. You may feel a little burning and stinging while the chemical is on your skin. A handheld fan can help cool the skin and relieve any discomfort. The superficial chemical treatment may take 15-30 minutes.

Medium depth peel

The basic technique for a medium depth chemical peel is similar to that used for a superficial peel. However, the medium peel treatment will take about an hour with more discomfort, as the chemicals are stronger and are left on the skin longer. Depending on your preference, Dr. Chung may prescribe an oral sedative and pain reliever for your comfort. Cool compresses and a fan are used during the procedure to help with the stinging sensation and discomfort, and there is no pain after the peel is finished. After the treatment, your face will be covered with an ointment to promote healing.

What should I expect after a chemical peel?

Superficial peel

Immediately after the peel, you may have some redness and irritation, similar to a slight sunburn. As this is a “lunchtime” peel, patients return to work right away. For about 5 days, you may notice some slight flaking and peeling of your skin.

Medium peel

After the peel, there is no discomfort. A special protocol of after-treatment skin care will be prescribed for you by Dr. Chung. For the first 5 days, you will wash your face with vinegar washes and apply Aquaphor ointment. Your skin will turn dark and leathery. This layer of skin will then peel off within a week, revealing clean, healthy, glowing fresh skin. Once your skin has finished peeling, you may wear makeup, usually within a week.

What will I look like?

As the damage skin is peeled away, your skin will have a smoother, revitalized, and fresher appearance. In addition, chemical peels stimulate collagen and elastin production in your skin, enhancing results even after the peel is completed.

Some patients benefit from regular superficial peels on a weekly or monthly basis until the desired results are achieved and some patients will have a medium peel once a year or every two years as part of their skin maintenance regimen.

With a good skin care regimen with the use of proper skin care products and sun protection, you will maximize and prolong the results from your chemical peel.