A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to the skin to remove the top layers. The skin that grows back after a chemical peel is smoother and younger looking.
Chemical peels are used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration and scars — typically on the face. A chemical peel can be done alone or in combination with other cosmetic procedures.
Chemical peels can be done at different depths — light, medium or deep — depending on your desired results. Each type of chemical peel uses a different chemical solution. Deeper chemical peels produce more-dramatic results, but also involve longer recovery times.
A chemical peel can be used to treat various skin problems. Depending on the issues you're addressing with the procedure, you'll choose a chemical peel in one of three depths:
Light chemical peel. A light (superficial) chemical peel removes the outer layer of skin (epidermis). It can be used to treat fine wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone and dryness. You might have a light chemical peel as often as every two to five weeks — depending on your desired results.
Medium chemical peel. This type of chemical peel removes skin cells from the epidermis and from portions of the upper part of your middle layer of skin (dermis). A medium chemical peel can treat wrinkles, acne scars and uneven skin tone. You might repeat a medium chemical peel after three to nine months to maintain results.
Deep chemical peel. A deep chemical peel removes skin cells from the epidermis and from portions of the mid to lower layer of your dermis. Your doctor might recommend a deep chemical peel if you have deeper wrinkles, scars or precancerous growths. A deep chemical peel can only be performed once.