In most cases, a chemical peel will be done in-office, although deep peels may be done in a surgical facility on an outpatient basis. Before starting the procedure, your doctor or aesthetician will tie back your hair, clean your face, and cover your eyes with goggles or gauze.
The treatment area may then be numbed with a topical anesthetic, particularly if you have a medium or deep peel. For deep peels, your doctor may elect to use a local anesthetic to numb the area.
Using a cotton ball, gauze, or brush, a chemical solution, such as salicylic acid, is applied to the treatment area. Once the solution has been applied, the skin will start to whiten and may sting slightly. The chemical solution is then removed, and a neutralizing treatment is applied.
To apply a medium chemical peel, a gauze, special sponge, or cotton-tipped applicator is used to apply the solution to your face. It may contain trichloroacetic acid or glycolic acid. If trichloroacetic acid is used, a blue color may be added, which is where the term ‘blue peel’ comes from. As the skin begins to whiten, your doctor will apply a cool compress. You may notice a stinging or burning feeling for up to twenty minutes after the treatment. A neutralizing solution may be applied to the skin to stop the peeling process. If you have had a blue peel, your skin may have a slightly blue tint for a few days.
A deep chemical peel is applied with a cotton-tipped applicator. The acid, usually phenol, turns the skin white or gray. The procedure will be done in 15-minute intervals to limit your skin’s exposure and control the treatment time.