what to expect: chemical peels


  • Stop topical Retinols and Retin-A (tretinoin), AHA’s, BHA’s or topical acne medication at least 4 days prior to treatment.
  • If you have a history of cold sores (herpes simplex) we can provide a prescription to prevent an outbreak. This is started the day before the procedure.
  • No waxing or laser hair removal one week prior to your peel

You should NOT have a chemical peel if you: are pregnant or lactating, have a history of allergies, have used accutane within the last 6 months, continue to have excessive sun exposure, have active herpes simplex, warts or a history of keloid scarring, have had recent facial plastic surgery, have autoimmune disease, are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, or have active sunburn or lesions of the face.

Chemical peels vary in their strength and chemical components. Some of these ingredients can cause peeling and others act as treatments for the cells and pigment in the epidermis. 

VI Peel:

  • This peel is our strongest professional chemical peel and is customized to your treatment goals.  It is very effective in treating acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles. Results often require a series of treatments, especially for pigment and melasma.
  • The VI Peel has a very comfortable application with little stinging and mild heat sensation.
  • Immediately following application, there is usually light erythema (redness) lasting a few hours. Most clients experience light to heavy peeling beginning 2 days after treatment and lasting  4-10 days.  The average peeling time is 5 days.
  • Some clients have reported peeling twice and others only mild sloughing.  Many factors determine level of peeling including skin thickness and how well your skin is exfoliated before treatment.  Even if your skin does not peel heavily, the peel is effective as it is working at the cellular level and may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • The VI Peel has a critical home regimen, with an at home boosters to be used 4 hours post procedure and for the following 2 nights.  It is important to follow the directions.  This kit will be given to you at the appointment and your practitioner will go over the post peel instructions with you carefully.

SkinMedica Vitalize Peel:

  • The Vitalize peel rejuvenates the skin leaving it with a healthy glow.
  • This peel has a mild stinging sensation during application.  It subsides during the appointment, however, it may linger for up to an hour.
  • After application, there is often light erythema (redness) lasting up to a few hours. There is usually light to moderate peeling beginning 2 days after peel. Some clients have very little peeling, but still will have a very vitalized appearance to their skin due to the chemicals in the peel.
  • This peel needs to be left on for 4 hours following application.  It will self neutralize during that time and can be rinsed off with cool water.  

SkinMedica Illuminize Peel:

  • This red carpet peel has no down time.  It illuminates the skin giving it a healthy glow and is a great option for someone with a special event that same day. 
  • This peel has a mild stinging sensation during application that subsides during the appointment.
  • This self neutralizing peel should be left on for four hours and then can be rinsed off with cool water. This peel causes very light to no flaking.  No peeling. The peel without a peel!

Light Peels (lactic, salicylic, glycolic, lite Jessner’s) :

  • These peels can target mild acne, hyperpigmentation, or early aging.
  • They have a mild stinging during application, but are neutralized and have no lingering sensation.  Light to no peeling or flaking may occur

Post-peel instructions (for all chemical peels):

  • For the VI Peel please follow the post-peel kit instructions carefully
  • Avoid sun exposure for 4 weeks to minimize pigment changes of skin color. Use a complete sun block (sunscreen SPF 30 or 45) every morning and reapply as needed throughout the day.
  • When peeling occurs, be sure to not pick at peeling skin. Let it peel naturally. Picking increases chances of scarring or pigment changes.  Avoid using any skin care products that may be harsh or irritating to the skin such as retinoids, exfoliants, vitamin C products, glycolic acid.  These products may be slowly restarted after the skin has fully healed.
  • Avoid swimming, strenuous activity, exercising and sun exposure for 24 hours.  Added heat in the body can result in an uncontrolled peel
  • Hydrocortisone is discouraged due to side effect of hirsutism and epidermal atrophy. If there is any itchiness a topical benadryl cream can be used.

Side effects: 

The most common side effects of peels include swelling, itching, oozing, redness, dry or flaking skin. Rare side effects are post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, permanent hypopigmentation, and scarring. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can occur if the area is picked or not kept clean. Herpes simplex virus infections around the mouth can occur following chemical peels. Should any type of skin infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics might be necessary. As always, do not hesitate to call us if you are concerned.

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