Safety and side effects of chemical peels

Safety and side effects of chemical peels

Firstly, if you are considering having one of the three facial chemical peels mentioned, make sure that you do your homework in terms of researching and choosing a reputable aesthetics clinic and/or physician to assist you. You need to ensure that your clinician or doctor is certified because, if administered incorrectly, your chemical peel could go horribly wrong, resulting in you suffering the consequences of, for example:

  • Blistering
  • Persistent erythema (superficial reddening of the skin)
  • Severe infection
  • Permanent tissue damage/injury
  • Severe scarring
  • Corneal damage

Superficial peels

  • The most common side effects include mild irritation, redness and peeling of the skin. However, these symptoms won’t last more than a few days.

Medium peels

  • Erythema (superficial reddening of the skin) is common after a medium depth chemical peel and can last up to 4 weeks.
  • Although scarring is uncommon it may occur several months after the peel.
  • Herpetic lesions (e.g. cold sores) are common especially in patients with a history of herpetic lesions. This is why most physicians will prescribe anti-viral medication to be taken in advance before the chemical peel is facilitated.
  • Infection is uncommon, but if it occurs, it should be able to be identified early in the recovery phase due to excessive crusting and pain.
  • Immediately after a medium depth chemical peel, the patient’s skin may be swollen and can feel tight. This will resolve as the skin heals.

Deep peels

As these are the deepest and most aggressive type of chemical peel they generally have a longer healing time than other types of peels. This treatment is so powerful that only one is required to achieve dramatic results which will last for many years (if proper post-peel care is followed). Risks and possible side effects include:

  • PIH (permanent hypo-pigmentation) is a risk and is more likely to occur with patients who have a pre-existing pigmentation problem.
  • There is a higher risk of infection if the proper aftercare procedures are not adhered to.
  • During the first week, facial movements will be limited and the perioral tissue (i.e. tissue area around the mouth) can crack and develop wounds so patients are generally advised to limit facial movements by ingesting a liquid diet through a straw.
  • Some fluid may ooze from the skin itself.
  • Patients can expect a severely swollen, red and uncomfortable face for at least a week or two.
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