Chemical Peel

What is a Chemical Peel?

Chemical PeelA chemical peel is a facial treatment that uses a chemical solution to improve and smooth the texture of your skin by removing the damaged outer layers. Facial chemical peels are helpful for those individuals with facial blemishes, wrinkles and uneven skin pigmentation. A chemical peel is one of the least invasive ways to improve the texture and appearance of your skin. Dr. Azizzadeh adjusts the precise chemical peel face treatment formula used in order to meet each patient’s specific needs.

Chemical peels are one of the most commonly performed facial cosmetic plastic surgery procedures to enhance the appearance of your skin, which, in turn, can improve your self-confidence. In addition to a chemical peel for acne, patients can have a chemical peel to remove pre-cancerous skin growths or a chemical peel for acne scars.

Although a chemical peel may be performed in conjunction with a facelift, it is not a substitute for such surgery, nor will it prevent or slow the aging process.

Types of Chemical Peels

Alphahydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids are the mildest of the peel formulas and provide a light chemical peel. These types of peels can provide smoother, brighter-looking skin for people who can’t spare the time to recover from phenol or TCA peels. AHA peels are commonly used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation. TCA is also a great acne chemical peel treatment option. Various concentrations of an AHA may be applied weekly or at longer intervals to obtain the best result. An alphahydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skincare regimen to improve the skin’s texture.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. Also, TCA is used for chemical peel acne scars treatments. The results of TCA peels are usually less dramatic and not as long-lasting as those of a greater strength phenol peel. In fact, more than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired result. The recovery from a TCA peel is usually shorter than with a phenol peel.

Phenol is the strongest of the chemical solutions and provides a deep chemical peel. It is used mainly to treat patients with coarse facial wrinkles, areas of blotchy or damaged skin caused by sun exposure or pre-cancerous growths. Since phenol sometimes lightens the treated areas, your skin pigmentation may be a determining factor as to whether or not this is an appropriate treatment for you. Phenol is primarily used on the face; scarring may result if it’s applied to the neck or other body areas.

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SkinMedica Chemical Peel

Vitalize PeelThe Vitalize Peel by SkinMedica is a great treatment to help fight the effects of aging. This peel is powerful enough to treat aged and damaged skin by removing the outer layers so that a new layer of skin cells can naturally emerge, yet is light enough to ensure that it does not damage your skin. This peel is great for patients who are trying to treat the following skin conditions: sun damage, pigmentation abnormalities, melasma, photodamage and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The Vitalize peel solution is combined with Retinoic acid in order to create a very effective exfoliation. This solution is well tolerated by patients with various skin types.

Patients generally will only need one Vitalize peel to see improvements in their skin. However, to get the best results possible from the peel a series of treatments should be performed. After a Vitalize peel patients will experience little to no down time, just mild peeling for 2-3 days.

Rejuvenize peelThe Rejuvenize Peel by SkinMedica is a more advanced chemical peel solution for moderate to severe skin conditions including: photodamage, fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentary irregularities, melasma, acne and superficial scarring. The Rejuvenize peel has a built-in anti-irritant and penetration enhancer in order to deliver a controlled exfoliation to the outer, damaged layers of the skin. The result is fresher and healthier looking skin. The Rejuvenize peel solution provides a more uniform peeling and controls the penetration of salicylic acid, thus reducing the amount of irritation and redness associated with other stronger peels, without compromising the effectiveness of the peel.

While a patient will see noticeable improvements after just one Rejuvenize peel, it is recommended that patients undergo several peels every 4-6 weeks in order to get the best results possible. Since the Rejuvenize peel is a stronger peel, patients can expect slightly more down time than they would with a lighter peel, but the recovery time is still relatively quick. Patients should expect mild to moderate peeling for 2-5 days.

Chemical Peel Before and After Pictures

Vitalize Peel- before Vitalize Peel after 6 treatments

Chemical peel for melasma, after 3 treatments Chemical Peel for Melasma, 1 treatment


What are the benefits of chemical peels for the treatment of skin discoloration?

Anyone who has had uneven, blotchy skin or  melasma knows how challenging it is to not only treat these skin conditions, but to also prevent a them from coming back. Understanding the causes of skin discoloration is a great first step to correcting it.

  • Skin inflammation: Acne or any skin trauma such as a scratch or burn often leads to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), which can take weeks or even months to go away.
  • Melasma: Irregular patches of pigmentation are commonly caused by pregnancy, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy or family history. 
  • Sun damage: The accumulation of exposure to sunlight is a major cause of hyperpigmentation.

Chemical peels are great treatment options for these skin conditions because the procedure accelerates skin turnover and speeds up pigment reduction, resulting in healthier skin and a more uniform complexion. There are several mechanisms through which chemical peeling creates these changes in the skin:

  • Chemical peels help remove the superficial layers of damaged skin and eliminate discolored skin cells. This also enhances penetration of bleaching agents.
  • By inducing production of new collagen and stimulating new healthy skin cell growth, peels help reveal a more youthful, radiant complexion.

Minimal Risk

All chemical peels carry some uncertainty and risk. A chemical peel is normally a safe procedure when it is performed by a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon. However, some unpredictability and risks such as infection and scarring, while infrequent, are possible.

Dr Azizzadeh Chemical PeelAHA peels may cause stinging, redness, irritation and crusting. However, as the skin adjusts to the treatment regimen, these problems will subside.

With a TCA peel, your healed skin will be able to produce pigment as always; the peel will not bleach the skin. However, TCA-peel patients are advised to avoid sun exposure for several months after chemical peel treatment to protect the newly formed layers of skin. Even though TCA is a milder solution than phenol, it may also produce some unintended color changes in the skin.

With a phenol peel, the new skin frequently loses its ability to make pigment (that is, tan). This means that not only will the skin be lighter in color, but you’ll always have to protect it from the sun. Phenol may pose a special risk for patients with a history of heart disease. It’s important that you make your surgeon aware of any heart problems when your medical history is taken.

As we age, the accumulated effects of sun exposure, pollutants, acne and scarring may damage our skin and cause us to look older than we actually are. Such skin damage can be treated with chemical peel, a non-invasive procedure designed to promote cell growth and produce smoother, clearer skin. Dr Azizzadeh is the author of several books profiling different procedures in facial plastic surgery, including facial rejuvenation.

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We’ve answered some common questions for you about chemical peels to help you decide if it is the right procedure for you!

Q: I want to get a chemical peel. I have sensitive skin with acne, rosacea, and acne scars and want to get rid of the acne scars. Is a chemical peel ok?


A: It depends on which peel you get. You should probably prep your skin with hydroquinone and Retin A for 4-6 weeks prior to doing any peel for best results. Both Hydroquinone and Retin A are good for both roseacea and acne.

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Babak Azizzadeh, M.D., F.A.C.S.
9401 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 650 Beverly Hills, California 90212
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