What can I expect after a chemical peel? What is the recovery time for a chemical peel?
The experience and recovery after a chemical peel depends on the type of peel.
Light chemical peels usually leave the person with pink skin which may sting and with temporary peeling. Regular social and work activities may be resumed immediately with cover-up make up applied to camouflage any redness. The skin should be cleaned daily with either water or a wash as instructed by your doctor and moisturizer should be used daily. It is important to avoid sun exposure until skin peeling stops and then use sunscreen whenever exposed to the sun since the new skin is more susceptible to sun damage.
Medium chemical peels as opposed to light peels, leave the skin redder for a longer period of time, sometime requiring a few days off of work. The peel causes a second degree sun burn which may take a week to heal. The skin first turns reddish brown for a couple of days, then crusty and then peels. An ointment or a dressing, as instructed by your doctor, should be placed on the healing skin to keep it moist as it regenerates. After the skin has healed, makeup can be applied to hide the redness. Although discomfort is minimal, there may be some swelling, especially in the thin skin under the eyes. As with the lighter peel, washing, moisturizing and sun screen are important after the skin has healed. It may take six weeks for the skin to return to normal.
Deep chemical peels result in a deeper second degree sunburn which may require up to two weeks for the skin to grow back. The skin will be red and crusty and then peel during which time it is important to keep the wound moist with ointment and wash to keep the crusts from accumulating. Acyclovir, an anti-viral, may be given to prevent infection during healing. There may be swelling as the skin heals which can be decreased by keeping the head elevated and may even need corticosteroids administration. Patients generally stay off from work until the skin has healed enough for makeup to hide the redness. The redness gradually resolves over as long as three months. Moisturizers and sunscreen are essential over the sensitive regenerated skin. There can be pain the first few days after the peel which oral medications can control.