How long does it take to recover from a chemical peel?
Your recovery time will depend on the chemical peel technique and depth of treatment. A deep peel requires a longer recovery period. Your surgeon will let you know how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. Your surgeon will also give you and your caregiver detailed instructions about your postoperative care after your treatment, including information about:
- Typical symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complications
Following all chemical peel treatments, it is important to avoid direct or indirect sun exposure until all the redness or pinkness of your skin has subsided. Even after that, you should protect your skin by regularly using sunscreen and, whenever possible, a wide-brimmed hat. This is particularly important if you have had a phenol peel which eliminates your skin's ability to tan. If you had the area around your eyes treated, you should wear high-quality sunglasses when outdoors. After some types of chemical peel treatments, you may need to be careful about exposing your skin to chlorinated water.
It is vital that you follow all the patient care instructions your surgeon provides. It is also important to know that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
What can I expect immediately after my chemical peel?
- With a light chemical peel, you will have no down time and you can return to your normal activities immediately.
- For deeper peels, your surgeon will cover your skin with petroleum jelly or other protective ointment and apply dressings.
- You may have some pain, particularly with the deeper peels. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your surgeon. You will also have some redness and swelling after the treatment.
What can I expect during the first few weeks of my chemical peel recovery?
- A deeper peel will involve a more prolonged healing period. Your surgeon will advise you on how to clean your skin and if you need to apply ointments.
- For men who have undergone resurfacing procedures, you won’t be able to shave until your surgeon says it’s safe to.
- Depending on the post-treatment regimen selected by your surgeon, a scab may or may not form over the treated area in medium and deep peels.
- For deeper peels, your wounded skin may be moist and ooze serous ("clear watery") fluid.
- Depending on the depth of your peel, you might have swelling and redness that will gradually change to pink, signalling that your new skin has begun to form.
What can I expect during the first few months of my chemical peel recovery?
- Your skin may still be pink.
- Your skin tones will begin to blend naturally.
- Your surgeon will let you know if you can use camouflage makeup.