Phenol peels are the deepest type of chemical peel. They penetrate the skin deeper than AHA peels or TCA peels to address more serious imperfections such as blotchiness, coarse wrinkles, and acne scars. Compared to light chemical peels and medium chemical peels, deep chemical peels have more dramatic results, and only a single treatment is required. However, deep (phenol) chemical peel recovery is lengthy and uncomfortable compared to milder chemical peels.
What is a Deep Chemical Peel?
Phenol chemical peels are the most aggressive type of skin peels. A phenol peel is an effective remedy for severely sun damaged skin, coarse wrinkles, scars, and even pre-cancerous growths. Because a phenol peel uses carbolic acid to treat the skin, the procedure is not suitable for treating selected areas. It must be used on the full face.
Phenol peels are so powerful that only one treatment is necessary to achieve dramatic results that last for years. Because the procedure typically results in pronounced swelling, patients are advised to allow for at least a week of at-home recovery after undergoing a deep chemical peel.
Candidates for Deep Chemical Peels
Not all patients are candidates for advanced chemical peels; some patients are better served by a medium chemical peel or another skin resurfacing option such as microdermabrasion. Phenol’s bleaching effect make phenol peels less than ideal for dark-skinned patients. In addition, phenol peels are not recommended for patients with freckles because the treatment eliminates freckles, which causes the treated and untreated areas to look obviously different. Deep chemical peels are not appropriate for individuals who wish to “spot-treat” their face, or for those who wish to improve the appearance of skin on areas other than the face. Patients with certain heart conditions face particular risk from deep chemical peels.
Because of a the dramatic, long-lasting effects of a deep chemical peel, as well as the possible side effects, both the physician and patient should use careful consideration before going ahead with treatment. If you are considering a phenol peel, be sure to discuss your medical history with your physician before deciding whether the treatment is right for you.
Deep Chemical Peel Application
Phenol peels are performed under carefully monitored conditions, usually in a doctor’s office. The patient is put under sedation, and local anesthesia is used to ease the discomfort associated with this advanced chemical peel. The chemical solution also contains anesthetic that numbs the skin.
A deep chemical peel usually takes from one to two hours to complete. After the patient is sedated, the chemical solution is applied to the skin. The patient may feel a mild tingling or burning during the application of the solution.
After the phenol solution has been on the skin for the appropriate amount of time, it is washed off with water, and a soothing ointment — often petroleum jelly — is applied to the treated area. The patient is given aftercare instructions, and he or she then returns home to begin recovery.
The chemical solution used in phenol peels removes damaged outer layers of skin to reveal a new, smooth layer of skin. Despite the impressive results possible with a phenol peel, this procedure does have its limitations. Though a deep chemical peel can improve relatively deep wrinkles as well as the tone, texture, and pigmentation of the skin, it cannot eliminate loose, sagging skin or deep scars. In these cases, facelift surgery, browlift surgery, Thermage®, laser skin tightening, or another facial rejuvenation technique may be a better option.
Deep Chemical Peel Recovery
After an advanced chemical peel, the patient’s face will be swollen, red, and uncomfortable. A crust will form on the treated skin several days after treatment. Within seven to ten days, this crust will flake off to reveal a new layer of bright pink skin. After two to three months, this bright pink color will fade to a pale, smooth complexion.
As with any type of chemical peel, deep chemical peels are not without risks and side effects. Many side effects can be minimized by heeding your physician’s aftercare instructions — avoiding the sun for a period of time after the peel, for instance, and refraining from picking at the skin as it crusts and flakes.
Anyone considering a phenol peel should be aware that after the treatment the new skin will be unable to tan. Therefore, a patient must take proper precautions against possible sun damage after undergoing a deep chemical peel. The patient should avoid exposing the treated skin to the sun and always use sun block. If you decide to undergo a phenol peel, your physician can give you further advice about proper sun protection and can recommend cosmetics to camouflage the treated area during your healing period.
A phenol peel provides dramatic rejuvenation. After healing is complete, the skin is much clearer and luminous, more elastic, and the appearance of deep wrinkles and severe discoloration is significantly reduced. A deep chemical peel can make you look younger, and the results can last decades without special care other than protection against sun exposure.
- Related: Cost of Chemical Peels
Consult a Dermatologist near You
For optimal results, it is important to choose a dermatologist who is experienced in administering deep chemical peels ( phenol peels). Use DocShop's extensive listings to locate a qualified dermatologist in your area if you are interested in deep chemical peel.