Are Chemical Peels Safe?

A chemical peel is a technique used to improve the appearance of the skin on the face, neck, or hands. A chemical solution is applied to the skin that causes it to exfoliate and eventually peel off, hence the name chemical peel. The new, regenerated skin is usually smoother, less dark, and wrinkled than before the peel. A chemical peel is an excellent way to help treat acne scars, aging skin, crow’s feet, hyperpigmentation, melasma, scarring, sun-damaged skin, and wrinkles. The best candidates for chemical peels are generally light-haired and fair-skinned people. Chemical peels do not commonly work well on skin of color.

Chemical peels are performed in-office as an outpatient procedure, meaning there is no overnight stay. Peels performed by a board-certified dermatologist ensure safety, training, and experience; regardless, we recommend you ask questions and see the credentials of the person you are considering to perform the chemical peel.
If you have any of the following, it is also not recommended for you to get a chemical peel:

  • Infection
  • Active skin diseases
  • Cut or broken skin
  • Sunburns
  • Nursing or pregnant
  • Have taken Accutane in the last six months
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Rosacea

While chemical peels don’t cause much pain, you will notice some stinging, redness, irritation, scaling, or peeling, as you would experience a sunburn. Your dermatologist will recommend a cream or lotion to apply regularly to the treated area. Depending on your peel type, healing time will vary from one day to three weeks. Your dermatologist will give you specific instructions on handling your skincare and may request a follow-up appointment if they think it is necessary.

All that said, chemical peels are safe if performed by a board-certified dermatologist with the safety, training, and experience in this treatment.