People have been using naturally occurring acids to rejuvenate and brighten their skin for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used sour milk, which contains lactic acid, to improve the texture of their skin, and Romans used the tartaric acid found in grapes to reduce dark spots.
Modern medicine has refined these ancient practices into highly precise procedures called chemical peels that use a variety of chemical solutions to target specific skin conditions.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a non-invasive skin-resurfacing procedure that utilizes a precise blend of acids placed carefully on the skin to remove damaged outer layers and stimulate the production of smooth, radiant skin cells.
The skin is the largest organ of the body and has three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutaneous fat. Chemical peels reduce the appearance of dark spots, sun-damaged skin, fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring, and uneven skin tone by removing the outermost layer of the skin, or epidermis.
In some cases, particularly when treating scaly or rough precancerous lesions, the acids used are strong enough to also affect the middle (or dermal) layer of the skin.
How does a chemical peel work?
In a chemical peel procedure, acid is applied to the treatment site using a cotton-tipped applicator to ensure the chemical delivery is focused and localized to the desired areas. The patient will feel a mild stinging sensation for about ten minutes as the acid begins to work on the skin’s outer layer.
Skin type and condition, combined with the patient’s aesthetic goals, will determine the type of peel used.
It is important to note that a chemical peel cannot successfully treat all skin conditions. Patients with excessively saggy or droopy skin, deep wrinkles, severe dark spots, or active acne conditions should meet with Dr. Maman to determine which non-surgical and facial rejuvenation techniques will deliver the best results.
Types of Chemical Peels
Chemical peels are categorized based on the type of acid used, the amount of tissue affected, and the desired result. They are generally broken into the following three categories:
- Light chemical peels
- Medium chemical peels
- Deep chemical peels
Light chemical peels
Light chemical peels, also known as superficial or lunchtime peels, use mild acids like alpha-hydroxy acids to remove the outer layer of skin. This treatment can exfoliate dead skin cells and treat fine wrinkles, sun damage, dryness, and mild acne on the face, neck, chest, or hands.
Light chemical peels take about seven days to fully heal, but the treatment is mild enough that patients can often wear makeup the next day if desired. They can be repeated every two to five weeks as part of a regular skincare routine.
Medium chemical peels
Medium chemical peels use stronger agents like trichloroacetic acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid to treat both the epidermis and the top layers of the dermis. This more aggressive treatment is effective for treating precancerous lesions, age spots, moderate acne scars, light-to-medium fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
During recovery, the treated skin will be red, swollen, and itchy as it peels. As the swelling goes down, it is normal for the peeling skin to form a scab or temporary hyperpigmentation that will last for up to two weeks.
Medium chemical peels can be repeated every four to six months if desired.
Deep chemical peels
Deep chemical peels use concentrated trichloroacetic acid or phenol to remove damaged skin cells that extend into the middle of the dermis. Deep peels are used to treat concerning precancerous irregularities, deep scars, and moderate wrinkles. Because deep peels deliver results that can last for up to ten years, many patients seek them out to delay more invasive procedures like a facelift.
While not a surgical procedure, this type of treatment does require approximately two to three weeks of recovery time.
Deep peels, also known as TCA peels due to the trichloroacetic acid used, can result in severe redness and swelling. Treated areas must remain covered in a thick ointment and bandages to prevent infection in the raw, open skin.
Swelling will likely decrease after a few weeks, but it is normal for the redness to last for several months. Deep peels can affect the skin’s ability to tan, so excellent skincare and consistent use of sunscreen are critical to maintaining results.
Who performs chemical peels?
Chemical peels are not risk-free procedures. Some skin types and pigments are more prone to infection, swelling, scars, and hyperpigmentation after a chemical peel.
Although many states allow master estheticians and medical spa employees to perform chemical peels without extensive oversight of their credentials, a skilled plastic surgeon who has undergone years of rigorous training is more qualified to help patients avoid potential complications and deliver the best possible results.
We make sure you have the information you need to feel good about your decision throughout the entire process, from your inquiry to our practice, through the consultation, and beyond.
- In-depth initial consultations with a complete medical history review and physical assessment by Dr. Maman
- Multiple pre-procedure visits (if needed) to answer your questions and make sure you are comfortable
- Specialized surgery coordinators to help you navigate scheduling, financial, and insurance processes
Once you have moved forward with surgery, we make sure you are just as cared for. Patients receive:
- Convenient and safe operating facilities in NYC
- Complimentary scar-treatment regimens
- Attentive and routine aftercare visits
Personalized, Holistic Patient-Centered Approach
Understanding each patient’s personal and clinical needs is central to our practice. We customize treatment plans for each patient and each patient receives Dr. Maman’s personal contact information along with direct round-the-clock access to our nurse and surgical coordinator.
“My skin has never looked better and I always feel incredibly positive after my appointments with him. Dr. Maman and his office are the best!”
Results & Recovery
We take every measure to provide the highest degree of comfort for our patients throughout their time in our care.
We believe that all patients should be fully informed. We stay in close contact before and after treatment to ensure each patient receives prompt and personalized care.
Recovery timelines vary depending on your procedure, but we offer thorough aftercare to ensure your optimized recovery and results.
For more information, read our FAQs below.
See our results. Contact us to find the right approach for you.
Meet Dr. Daniel Maman
Dr. Daniel Maman is a Harvard fellowship-trained and board-certified plastic surgeon specialized in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery of the breast, body, and face.
About Dr. Daniel Y. Maman, Board-Certified NYC Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Maman completed a Harvard fellowship in aesthetic breast surgery as well as a 6-year plastic surgery residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He has appeared on The New York Times Top Doctors and Super Doctors in Plastic Surgery lists.
Dr. Maman is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Whether your reasons for a mommy makeover are personal, clinical, or both, you deserve an experienced surgeon who is a partner in your care.
Contact us today to request a consultation.
Basic Chemical Peel FAQs
How much do you charge for a chemical peel?
A chemical peel treatment plan is carefully individualized to each patient based on their long-term goals and medical history. Because we customize treatment for each patient, pricing can vary. During your initial consultation, Dr. Maman will conduct a detailed assessment. Afterward, you will receive an itemized price quote to help you make your decision.
Am I a good candidate for a chemical peel?
The best candidates for a chemical peel are generally healthy non-smokers with mild to moderate scarring, wrinkles, or sun damage on their skin.
While a chemical peel is not a surgical procedure, some conditions and medications can adversely affect the results. Chronic and autoimmune diseases can increase recovery time and the risk of infection, as can certain medications. Additionally, patients with darker skin tones can have a higher incidence of hyperpigmentation.
Meeting with Dr. Maman is the best way to determine whether a chemical peel is the right treatment option for you or whether another technique will be better able to deliver your desired results.
Where will my procedure be performed? How long will it take?
Dr. Maman usually performs chemical peels at an in-office, AAAASF-certified facility or an outpatient ambulatory surgery center (ASC). He also has operating privileges at Mount Sinai Hospital, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York Eye & Ear Infirmary, and Englewood Hospital. We work with you to select the best facility for your needs.
This procedure usually takes no more than 30 minutes in our office, but the peeling effects will last for up to two weeks.
How long is the recovery period for a chemical peel?
It depends on the type of peel performed. Light chemical peels have virtually no downtime, while medium chemical peels may require you to take a day or two off work. Patients undergoing a deep chemical peel, however, will likely need at least a week off work
Even when you feel better, usually after a week, the treated area may be red, swollen, and scabbed for up to three weeks. Many patients chose to take extra time off until their appearance normalizes.
How long do I have to wait to work out after a chemical peel?
Sweating and the higher body temperature associated with exercise increase the risk of infection and slow healing, which can lead to hyperpigmentation and scarring. Strenuous exercise should be avoided until peeling at the treatment site has stopped. This timeline will vary based on the type of peel.
Will I have to pay for follow-up visits after my surgery?
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