Light peels: Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) AHA peels generally cause some flaking, redness and dryness, or skin irritation. These side effects diminish over time. Once the body heals itself naturally, the outer layer of skin will fall away. Patients are usually able to engage in normal public activities the day after an AHA peel.
Medium peels: Trichloroacetic acids (TCA). TCA peels may cause significant swelling, depending on the potency of the chemical solution that was used. Swelling should diminish after the first week. The skin will heal sufficiently to resume normal activities in approximately 7-10 days.
After TCA peels, some patients also have outbreaks of small whiteheads, called milia, which are formed in obstructed facial glands. Generally, these disappear with washing, but in some cases a doctor will need to remove them.
Deep peels: Phenol acid. After a phenol peel, your doctor may prescribe a mild pain medication to relieve any discomfort. If a waterproof adhesive is applied to the treated area, it will be removed in 1-2 days, and you’ll be instructed to cover the area with antiseptic powder several times a day. A scab will form and, within 7-10 days, new skin will form. While the skin will be red at first, the color will lighten over a few weeks to a few months.
After any peel, it is critically important that the skin be protected from the sun. Ask your doctor to recommend a sun block with both UVA and UVB protection, and apply it daily.
After the procedure, the doctor may recommend that the patient stop smoking for at least a week. Smoking decreases circulation of the blood in the skin, which can slow your recovery.