What are Chemical Peels?

A chemical peel is an aesthetic treatment that enhances and smooths skin that has developed uneven tone and texture. Early aging signs like subtle lines and pigmentation irregularities can also be addressed with these procedures. The most common formulations incorporate chemicals such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol. These substances are all FDA-approved for medical and cosmetic use. By using these specialized acid solutions to remove damaged, outermost skin layers, a surgeon can effectively eradicate facial blemishes and skin discoloration while producing a more vibrant complexion.

Is a Chemical Peel Right for You?

Chemical peels can be customized to nearly any skin type and tone. The ideal candidate for a chemical peel treatment will have one or more of the following concerns:

  • Fine facial lines and wrinkles
  • Acne scars and lesions
  • Uneven skin pigmentation
  • Skin that is rough or scaly
  • Skin that has lost its radiance

While chemical peels are frequently performed on the face, they can be used on nearly any area of the body where the dermis has suffered the effects of time and environmental factors. Popular treatment areas include the chest, back and the backs of the hands. Keep in mind that chemical peels are not sufficient for treating deep wrinkles or scars and they cannot tighten up loose sagging skin. We recommend that you use our ZO Skin Health product line for 30 days before scheduling your chemical peel, so your skin is in top condition to receive the treatment.

Benefits of a Chemical Peel

With a variety of solutions to select from, chemical peels can provide a wide range of benefits:

  • Smoother, softer skin
  • Noticeable reduction in fine lines and shallow scarring
  • Less prominent brown spots and hyperpigmentation
  • More even skin tone and texture
  • Refreshed, rejuvenated appearance

The deeper peel you have, the more dramatic your results will be. However, deeper peels also require some downtime afterward, so you will need to plan to ensure you have some time off work and other activities to heal from your treatment.

Choices in Chemical Peels

There are three basic types of chemical peels:


These peels usually contain alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids. Also known as superficial peel, these treatments can be performed on a lunch hour. After the procedure, you can head back to your daily routine without noticeable signs you just had a treatment performed. Improvements with a superficial peel are typically subtle, and the procedure needs to be repeated regularly to maintain your positive results.


Trichloroacetic acid and glycolic acid are favorite ingredients in these peels, which are designed to remove a few more skin layers than light peels. Medium peels are usually recommended when additional correction is needed, and the skin won’t respond sufficiently to a superficial peel. Your J Michelle Med Spa provider may recommend a medium peel if you want to minimize the appearance of lines or brown spots, as the solutions tend to work deep enough to give you improvement of these concerns.


Deep peels often use phenol, a potent chemical that removes more layers of skin to produce dramatic improvements to the complexion. Higher concentrations of TCA can also be an option for this treatment. Deep peels are appropriate for more severe signs of aging and sun damage and produce results that can last for many years. The treatments require an extended recovery process, which can be uncomfortable, but the outcome of these procedures is genuinely outstanding.
Your J Michelle Med Spa provider will recommend the right peel for you based on the concerns you have and the results you hope to achieve. You will need to commit sufficient time for recovery after your procedure, which can be significant after a deep peel. With so many variations to choose from, rest assured there is a peel that will be just right for you.

What to Expect from Your Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are performed in our office at J Michelle Med Spa. First, your skin is thoroughly cleansed, and numbing cream will be applied if necessary. The solution is applied to the skin and left on for a prescribed amount of time. At that time, a neutralizing agent will be used, and the peel is removed. You will be given a topical ointment to apply to the skin regularly after your treatment to support and sooth the skin during the healing process.

After Your Chemical Peel

Recovery often depends on the type of chemical peel you have. Superficial peels usually don’t require any downtime, and you can head back to your daily activities right away. Deep peels will likely need multiple weeks for full recovery. Lighter peels reveal subtle improvements that show up over time, while deeper peels will produce more dramatic results.

After treatment, the skin may become red and swollen, which can last for up to one week. Bruising can accompany these symptoms, and the skin may be very tender to the touch. Your J Michelle Med Spa provider will provide specific instructions on how to care for your skin during the recovery process to promote healing and ensure an optimal outcome.

Chemical peels continue to be one of the most popular ways to refresh and rejuvenate the skin today. If you are interested in learning more about these treatments, contact J Michelle Med Spa today at 805.852.5454

The information about chemical peels was reviewed by our J Michelle Med Spa Medical Director. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form below.