What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel, also known as chemexfoliation or dermapeeling, is used to improve the appearance of the skin. In this treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the skin, which causes it to "blister" and eventually peel off. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin. The new skin is also temporarily more sensitive to the sun.

What conditions does a chemical peel treat?

Chemical peels are used to treat certain skin conditions or to improve appearance. Fine lines under the eyes or around the mouth and wrinkles caused by sun damage, aging, and hereditary factors can often be reduced or eliminated with this procedure.

Sags, bulges, and more severe wrinkles do not respond well to chemical peels. They may require other cosmetic surgical procedures, such as carbon dioxide laser resurfacing, a face lift, brow lift, eye lift, or soft tissue filler. A dermatologic surgeon can help determine the best treatment for each person.

Chemical peels are performed on the face, neck or hands. They can help reduce:

Chemical peels can also help skin that is dull in texture and color.

Areas of sun damage, which may contain pre-cancerous keratoses that appear as scaly spots, may improve after chemical peeling. Following treatment, with diligent sun avoidance and sunscreen use, new pre-cancerous lesions are less likely to appear.

Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel?

Generally, superficial peels can be used in all skin types. However, patients with darker skin types have greater risks of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin).

While superficial peels can be used in darker skin types, less aggressive treatments are advised to reduce risks of hyperpigmentation.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/10/2016.


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