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Chemical peels have been a mainstay in cosmetic procedures for the treatment of a myriad of skin care conditions by cosmetic dermatologists, like Dr. Michele Green, for years. Chemical peels are amazing at treating many skin care concerns, from fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, rosacea, acne, acne scars, hyperpigmentation and discoloration. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in chemical peels and has been treating patients in her boutique NYC patients with chemical peels for over 25 years. There are many different types of chemical peels, from alpha-hydroxy acids, glycolic acids, to trichloroacetic acid, Cosmelan peels, Vi Peels, Mesopeels, and Dermamelan peels. Choosing the best type of chemical peel, based on both your skin type and skin care condition, is Dr. Michele Green’s expertise. Dr. Green will customize a skin care regime for you and pair your skin care products with the best type of chemical peel specifically designed for you. Choosing the correct type and strength of chemical peel, based on your skin type and underlying skin care concerns, is critical to having the best cosmetic results.

Chemical peels have been the number one, most popular cosmetic treatment in the U.S., for over two decades simply because they are so effective at treating many different types of skin types and conditions. Chemical peels are crucial to healthy skin care and leave your skin refreshed and rejuvenated. Plastic surgery has its place but cannot treat the surface or quality of the skin. Dr. Michele Green will create the best skin care routine, with her MGSKINLABs line of products, and combine them with the best chemical peels, to exfoliate and rejuveante your skin. If your skin looks dull, dehydrated, discolored, wrinkled, or sun damaged, chemical peels are one of the very best ways to improve and create younger looking skin.

What is a chemical peel?

A chemical peel is a type of skin resurfacing treatment which uses a chemical solution that is applied to the skin to removes the outer layers of dead skin. Chemical peels, through chemical exfoliation, stimulates cell turnover correcting skin discoloration, unclogging the pores, giving the skin a vibrant glow. Chemical peels remove the outermost layers of the skin. Depending on the strength and type of chemical peel, the depth of the peel and effect can be controlled. This controlled injury to the skin, is what facilities the peeling of the skin, and improvement in the texture  of the skin, treating acne, acne scars, sun damage, lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

Are there different types of chemical peels?

Three are many different types of chemical peels, based on skin care concerns, skin type, and the areas of the body being treated with the chemical peel. The different types of chemical peels used include acids such as BHA’s (beta hydroxy acids), AHA’s (alpha hydroxy acids), Lactic Acid, Jessner solution and TCA’s (Trichloroacetic acids), amongst others which are applied to the skin. These acids, through chemical reaction with the skin, gently penetrate the layers of the skin breaking down dead skin cells. The chemical reaction with the skin causes the dead skin cells to gently peel off. The shedding of dead skin cells can be dramatic or superficial depending on the type of acid and the strength used.

The type of peels used for each patient is matched both with the patient’s skin type and also the degree of exfoliating that you desire. Chemical peels can help improve the appearance of your skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage as well as evening out your skin tone. Chemical peels are a great alternative for patients who want to give their skin a fresh, vibrant look with minimal downtime. Chemical peels can be done in different strengths – light, medium or deep -depending on your skin type, issue and desired results. For each strength of chemical peel, a different chemical formulation may be needed.

Different parts of the body also require different types of acids. For example, the delicate axillae (under arms) or bikini and inner thigh area, require a gentler type of chemical peel. For these delicate areas, mesopeels are the most effective as you do not run the risk of hyperpigmentation or additional irritation. For the face and chest, for melasma, Cosmelan peels are the most effective treatment and produce amazing results for treating melasma and pigmentation as the result of hormonal imbalance and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).  Dermamelan Intimate peels are specifically formulated for the vaginal area to produce safe and effective skin lightening in this delicate area. Choosing the best type of chemical peel for the area of the body, whether it be your face, back, décolletage, neck, or intimate area, is the key to having the best cosmetic results.


Chemical Peel Before & After – 6 months

What does a chemical peel do?

Chemical peels are the most popular cosmetic procedure in dermatology since they treat such a wide variety of skin conditions. Dr. Michele Green will help choose the best chemical peel for your skin care condition. The following skin conditions can be treated by chemical peels:

  • Sun damage
  • Actinic Keratoses or Pre-cancers
  • Hyperpigmentaion
  • Melasma
  • Age spots
  • Sun psots
  • Freckles
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne marks or improper laser treatments from IPL, Fraxel laser, or Picosure
  • Skin texture issues
  • Acne scars
  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Fine lines and wrinkles

A peel should be selected based upon your specific complexion concerns and severity of changes in your skin. When skin changes are limited to the superficial layers of the skin include increased skin pigmentation and skin texture, they can be treated with a superficial peel. When the textural changes include deeper wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, a deeper type of chemical peel will be required. The most severe changes in the skin include generalized deep wrinkling with a leathery appearance which may require a deeperer form of chemical peel. Again, these skin care concerns must be treated within the context of a patient’s skin type, since patients with darker skin tones can tolerate light or medium types of chemical peels.

Female patient chemical peels, 2 months

What are the types of chemical peels?

The American Society of Dermatology has categorized three levels of chemical peels.

Light chemical peels

Light chemical peels are superficial peels, and often referred to as a “lunch” time peel. This type of acid peel is perfect for someone with relatively good skin who just wants to refresh their skin. Light chemical peels can treat superficial fine lines and wrinkles in addition to correcting uneven skin tone and texture. Light chemical peels can be done as often as every two weeks for several months.

Which skin issues do light chemical peels treat?

  • Acne breakouts
  • Skin texuture
  • Skin tone
  • Fine lines
  • Rough and dry skin

Recovery from a light chemical peel

Light peels generally peel for just a few days with little down time. Patients can go back to work immediately after a light peel since there is only some mild dryness, redness, and irrigation and your skin exfoliates the dead skin. You are left quickly with a healthy glow to your skin. Most patients have a series of light peels to rejuvenate their skin.

chemical peel diagram 300735995

Medium chemical peels

Medium peels are stronger peels which may require several more days of downtime due to the moderate flaking and peeling of the skin. The chemicals used to administer these peels are a stronger type and/or concentration and are used to achieve a deeper level of chemical peel. After these medium peels there can be some increased healing time, since these peels penetrate into the dermis of the skin and can leave redness, flaking and causing, which can take over a week to resolve. Most patients have medium peels three to four times a year.

Which skin conditions do medium chemical peels treat?

  • Deeper lines and wrinkles
  • Skin discoloration and pigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Acne scars
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) from acne or lasers.

Recovery from a medium peel

Medium chemical peels can have a 7 to 10 day recovery time. You should expect the peel to exfoliate and feel with redness immediately after the treatment. The skin color can turn light brown within the next day as the skin begins to peel off. Moisturizers, lotions, and sunscreen should be used throughout after this process and strict sun avoidance is essential to preventing a recurrence of the underlying skin condition.

cosmelan melasma 57 LEFT

Chemical Peel Before & After – 2 months

Deep chemical peels

Dermatologist and plastic surgeons use deep chemical peels to treat deeper lines and wrinkles,  and severe acne scarring. These peels require more downtime as they penetrate deeper into the dermal layers of the skin. Phenol acid is one of the peeling agents used in this type of deep chemical peel. Skin color is a determinant of a patient’s appropriateness for a deep chemical peel, with patients of darker skin tones not good candidates. Deep peels often require the use of a numbing agent or sedation, and should only be performed by a board certified dermatologist, like Dr. Green.

Which skin issues to deep chemical peels treat?

  • Sun damage
  • Deep lines and wrinkles
  • Pre-cancers
  • Deep acne scars

Recovery from a deep chemical peel

The healing time of a deep acid peel can be two to three weeks and you are bandaged immediately after the procedure. A potential side effect of improper deep peels can be blisters or burns. Immediately after all chemical peels, cool compresses are applied to the treated area. Lotion is applied for dryness and sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher is used on a daily basis. Strict sun avoidance and sunscreen use is essential during and after the chemical peel process, to maintain the positive and rejuvenated effects.

Find out more about Light (Also known as “Superficial” or “Lunchtime”) Chemical Peels

Find out more about Medium Chemical Peels

Find out more about Deep/Heavy Chemical Peels

32 NF cosmelan 3w ANGLER MGwatermark

Before & After – 3 weeks

What is the process of having a chemical peel?

A chemical peel should not be performed if you have an active cold sore, eczema flare of psoriatic flare. In addition, if you are prone to cold sores you should tell your doctor before doing a chemical peel. Pre-treatment with an antiviral medication, such as Valtrex, should be started before the chemical peel if there is a history of cold sores or Herpes.

Depending on your skin type and the reason for the chemical peel, you may be prescribed a topical retinoid or hydroquinone cream to pre-treat the skin prior to treatment. Retinoids and hydroquinones are particularly beneficial if you are treating hyperigmentation or sun damage.

Darker skin types can certainly do chemical peels however, Dr. Green will customize the strength and type of peel for patents with type III skin types or darker, to have the best cosmetic results.

What should I expect after a chemical peel?

During the treatment you will experience a mild tingling sensation or feel heat on the skin. The acid is then neutralized and the skin cleaned. It is important that you avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen while outdoors. After getting a peel you should avoid sun exposure for at least 1-2 weeks is vital as your skin goes through the process of regenerating new skin cells it is important that the skin is not exposed to the sun as this can cause hyperpigmentation. You will start to notice slight peeling or flaking of the skin by the second day after your peel. You should refrain from pulling, picking or peeling the skin and apply hydrating moisturizer two to three times daily.

You should avoid heat or exercise immediately following a chemical peel. Due to the exfoliation the skin is more sensitive and heat exposure and exercise can cause discomfort and skin irritation.

In addition, you should also avoid the use of topical exfoliants, or skin care products containing retinol, retin a, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or salicylic acid for 2 weeks after your chemical peel treatment.

chemical peel diagram shutterstock

What is the recovery from a chemical peel?

A superficial peel has a recovery period of a few hours to a few days, depending on how aggressive the treatment was. Recovery from a medium depth peel generally takes about one week. A deep chemical peel will take from several weeks to several months to completely recover.

Generally speaking, a light to medium depth chemical peel is not painful. Most patients experience a warm to somewhat hot sensation that lasts for five to ten minutes. This may be followed by a mild stinging sensation. However, a deep chemical peel may require pain medication during and after the procedure.

What is the cost of a chemical peel?

The cost for a chemical peel will vary depending on both the strength and type of chemical peel. The cost of a chemical peel can range from $400 to $2,000, if there is anesthesia or extensive preparation involved. A typical light chemical peel by a board certified dermatologist generally is around 500 dollars per treatment. Spas, or clinics, with non-physician providers may be priced less and are generally performed by technicians with less cosmetic experience in different skin tones and types of chemical peels.

Are chemical peels safe?

A chemical peel is entirely safe when performed by a board certified and experienced dermatologist, like Dr. Michele Green. However, there are risks and uncertainties involved with chemical peels, especially when performed by inexperienced providers.

What are the side effects of chemical peels?

Normal and expected side effects of chemical peels are dryness and flaking for several days to a week, depending on the depth of the chemical peel. The use of moisturizers and lotions will treat these side effects, which is a normal part of the chemical peel process.

When chemical peels are performed by inexperienced and unlicensed providers, the risks and side effects increase. There is the risk of infection and/or scarring from the chemical peel, especially if the wrong type of chemical peel is performed for a specific skin tone. There is also a risk of hyperpigmentation and permanent hypopigmentation, or lack of pigment. Infection is also a risk from a chemical peel.

What is a Vi Peel?

A Vi Peel is a unique chemical peel which is formulated with salicylic acid, Vitamin C, TCA, and retinoid acid. A Vi peel helps treat sun damage, melasma, acne scars, and other pigmentation and discoloration of the face. Since the Vi peel also helps address the skin texture, it can help with pores, fine lines, acne, and surface irregularities. Like other chemical peels, the Vi peel can be combined with other cosmetic lasers, such as the Vbeam laser treatment for redness, Botox, and Juvederm. As the Vi peel removes the dead skin, new healthy skin tissue is stimulated which improves fine lines and wrinkles and pigmentation. The full effects of the Vi peel generally take one week, as the skin exfoliates and new glowing skin is produced.

Do chemical peels hurt?

During the process of a chemical peel, you may feel itching, stinging or a burning sensation, which can last for a few minutes. Dr. Green will apply cold compresses immediately after your chemical peel, which will neutralize the acid, and relieve any discomfort. Deeper chemical peels may require oral pain medications or IV sedation for pain management, but these are controlled chemical peels which are more uncommon nowadays.

What to expect after a chemical peel?

Since there are so many different types of chemical peels, you can expect varying degrees of downtime and peeling, depending on the type of chemical peel. The American Academy of Dermatology outlines the various types of peels on their website with the recovery associated with each type. For example, light or superficial peels will flake and peel off in several days, removing dead skin. Deep chemical peels may blister and swell and can take one to two weeks to heal. A mesopeel for intimate areas is designed to have little or no peeling in these sensitive areas.

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How long does a chemical peel take?

A superficial chemical peel can take just a few minutes to perform and has little down time. A medium chemical peel can take 15 minutes with seven to ten days of recovery time. The procedure for a deep chemical peel can take up to 90 minutes and with a two to three week recovery time.

How often should you get a chemical peel?

The frequency of a chemical peel depends on the type of peel and the condition that you are treating. If you are treating acne, you can have a series of peels, every two weeks, to exfoliate and improve your acne breakouts. If the chemical peels are being performed for discoloration or hyperpigmention, these chemical peels may be performed every two to four weeks, and performed monthly, until all of the discoloration is resolved. Generally, with a moderate amount of hyperpigmentation, five to six chemical peels are required in combination with lightening creams and retinoids.

What to put on your face after a chemical peel?

It is very important as the dead skin is exfoliating, after your chemical peel, to apply rich moisturizers and lotions, which are free from exfoliants such as retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids. As new skin is forming, you do not want to pick or scrape off the peeling skin, as this may lead to scarring. Sunscreen use is very important as well as strict sun protection. Dr. Green recommends using a broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen, which has both UVA and UVB protection. After your chemical peel and for the following week, you should re-apply sunscreen every few hours when outside to best protect your new skin.

Do chemical peels work?

Chemical peels are extremely effective at rejuvenating the skin. The skin is comprised of three layers: the epidermis, dermal layer, and fat layer. Chemical peels primarily work on the epidermal layer with deeper chemical peels penetrating the dermis. The chemical solution applied to the skin causes the skin cells to peel off, revealing new skin which is unblemished and replaces the older, damaged and dead skin cells. Chemical peels are highly effective, and can be used throughout the  skin on any area of the body. Dr. Michele Green will customize your chemical peel protocol for both your skin care concerns and specific area of the body which needs treatment. Again, skin tone is an important element in addressing this process and having the best cosmetic results.

Do chemical peels help with acne?

Yes, chemical peels help with acne by using a chemical solution to exfoliate the skin, unclog the pores, and help treat acne breakouts. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and light trichloroacetic acid peels are very effective at treating acne. It is best to have a series of these light peels to help exfoliate the skin and treat your acne breakouts.

Can you do a chemical peel on your body?

Yes, chemical peels can be used on the body, as well as the face, to correct uneven skin tone, texture, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, acne and acne scars. Chemical peels can be performed on:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Chest/decolletage
  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Legs
  • Arms
  • Inner thighs
  • Axillae
  • Vaginal area

Do chemical peels help with acne scars?

Chemical peels are very effective at improving the appearance of acne scars by removing the outer layer of dead skin, and replacing it with smoother, new, healthy skin. Chemical peels promote the formation of new collagen, and in essence, resurface the skin. Acne breakouts can result in acne scars with uneven skin tone, hyperpigmentation, and dark marks. Chemical peels, combined with hydroquinones and retinoids, will smooth out your skin tone and leave it even and glowing.

For atrophic acne scars, specially ice pick scars, TCA Cross, is a unique method of treating these scars with high concentrations of trichloroacetic acid. TCA Cross reduces enlarged pores, acne scars, and promotes the production of new collagen and elastin. This new collage production creates a more even complexion and improves the cosmetic appearance of your acne scars.

Can you do chemical peels at home?

Mild chemical peels or exfoliating treatments can be done at home, under the guidance of your dermatologist. These light peels can help with acne, sun damage, discoloration, and fine lines. Special care must be used not to over peel your skin and leave it irritated, discolored, or more uneven. There are many popular at home products for chemical peels, such as Kiehl’s Nightly Refining Micro-Peel Concentrate, Elemis’s papaya peel, and MGSKINLABs RetexturizIng pads. When looking through the ingredients for such at home products, it is important to remember that in addition to exfoliating ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, and retinol, active ingredients like Vitamin C will help treat the discoloration and target dark spots on your face and body.

Deeper chemical peels should never be performed at home. High percentages of TCA and phenol peels fall into this category, since only board certified dermatologists, like Dr. Green, are licensed to perform these types of deeper chemical peels.

Which chemical peel is best?

There is no “best” type of chemical peel. The best chemical peel must be matched with your skin type, skin tone, area of the body being treated, and specific skin condition which needs to be improved. Generally speaking, fair-skinned patients can have stronger chemical peels than patients with darker skin tones. It is important to consult an expert in chemical peels, like Dr. Michele Green, who will understand which type of chemical peel will be best for your skin tone. Dr. Green treats individuals of all skin tones with chemical peels, including Asian, Hispanic, and African American patients.

Can chemical peels be combined with other cosmetic procedures?

Yes, dynamic wrinkles, which occur as a muscle action, deep scars, and skin sagging due to aging are generally not improved with chemical peeling. For this reason, other procedures like dermal fillersBOTOX® Cosmetic, Sculptra, or other cosmetic injectables should be incorporated into your treatment regime. Many patients will also choose to have the Thermage FLX for skin tightening before a series of peels to produce new collagen and tighten the skin.

How do I get started today with a chemical peel?

If you’re unhappy with the tone and texture of your skin, there’s finally a solution which can help. Dr. Michele Green is an internationally renowned expert in cosmetic dermatology with a specialty in non-invasive cosmetic treatments. Contact us online today or call 212-535-3088 to learn more about the different types of chemical peels and how Dr. Green can create a customized treatment plan for you.

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