Paul J. LoVerme, M.D., FACS
Chemical Peel Deep
A deep chemical skin peel, or phenol peel, is the strongest of chemical peels, and is reserved for individuals with deep wrinkles from sun exposure or is used to treat skin wrinkling around the lips and chin area. The procedure diminishes imperfections in sun-damaged, unevenly pigmented, or coarsely wrinkled facial areas by peeling away the skin's top layers.
A full-face deep chemical peel takes 1 to 2 hours to perform. A more limited procedure (such as treatment of wrinkling above the lip) will generally take less than a half-hour. A solution is applied to the area to be treated (avoiding the eyes, brows and lips). There is a slight burning sensation, but it is minimal since the solution also acts as an anesthetic. After the peel solution has worked on the skin, it is neutralized with water. Approximately one hour later, a thick coating of petroleum jelly is layered over the patient's face, covering the protective crust which develops rapidly over the area. This stays in place for 1 to 2 days. In an alternative technique, the patient's face is covered by a "mask," composed of strips of adhesive tape, with openings for the eyes and mouth (this is particularly effective in cases of severe wrinkling).
Some patients experience discomfort after a deep chemical peel, but this can be controlled with medication. A few days after the procedure, new skin with a bright pink color akin to sunburn will emerge; the pinkness will fade within a few days. Post-operative puffiness will also subside in a few days, but the skin will remain sensitive. Patients should avoid exposure to sunlight and continue to use sun block.
- Effects of a phenol chemical peel are long lasting, and in some cases are still readily apparent up to 20 years following the procedure. Improvements in the patient's skin can be quite dramatic.
- Normal work schedule and other activities can be resumed after 1 to 2 weeks.
- Variants in the phenol peel formula can create a milder solution for broader use.