Chemical Peel Side Effects

Chemical peel is done (usually by a trained dermatologist) for treatment of acne scar, wrinkles, uneven facial skin tone and also for removing precancerous skin lesions. Like every treatment procedure, chemical peel is also associated with some side effects or risks. Chemical peel is most commonly done for treatment of facial skin conditions. The following side effects may be seen when you undergo chemical peel:

  • Redness of skin: this is a very common side effect of chemical peel. In fact redness of skin is part of healing process of skin after the procedure. However, in some individuals the redness of skin may last long up to several months, especially those undergoing medium to deep chemical peeling. For people undergoing light chemical peel may have redness only for few days to weeks.
  • Scar formation: deep and medium chemical peel can cause scar formation, although rare. Light chemical peel do not cause scar formation, because only dead epidermis of skin is removed in this peeling process. Deep and medium chemical peel removes medium to lower layers of dermis that is made up of live cells can lead to scar formation. Judicious use of steroids and antibiotics can reduce risk of scar formation after chemical peel.
  • Infection: it (bacterial and fungal infection) is a possibility, if aseptic precautions are not taken properly, although very rare. Sometimes chemical peel may lead to flare up of herpes infection that is dormant in the individual.
  • Change of skin color: color change of skin may occur after using chemical peel. Skin may become light (hypopigmentation) or darker (hyperpigmentation) than before. People with dark skin are more prone to color change after chemical peel. Usually after light peel skin becomes darker and after deep peel skin becomes lighter.
  • Effects on kidney, heart and liver: phenol (carbolic acid) is used in chemical peel that may lead to adverse effects that affect liver, kidneys and heart (heart muscles may be damaged and heart beat may become irregular). One should be careful while using phenol, especially during deep chemical peel. To avoid excess exposure deep chemical peel is done in portions with a gap of about 20 minutes.

Everyone should not use chemical peel. You should consult your doctor if you are a fit candidate for chemical peel. If you have any of the following condition, your doctor may recommend you not to use chemical peel:

  • If you have taken isotretinoin for acne treatment in past 6 months.
  • If your complexion is dark, freckled and pale and if you have red hairs
  • If you have facial warts (viral infection)
  • If you have history of keloid formation when any skin injury heals (this make it highly possible to form keloid after chemical peel too)
  • If you have abnormal skin pigmentation.
  • If you suffer from frequent and severe cold sores

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