Chemical Peels

At RevivaMed, we offer a wide range of medical-grade peels to reverse the effects of aging on the skin.  Regardless of the cause, there are many options that can be customized to your needs. In the hands of our experienced Medical Aestheticians, chemical peels can remove dead skin cells, minimize fine lines, treat small scars, and reduce uneven pigmentation caused by aging, hormones, and the sun. 

What do chemical peels do?

Chemical peels are the ultimate skin exfoliators by removing the superficial layers of skin.  They also increase collagen and elastic formation, creating smoother and firmer skin tone. The new healthy top layer of skin improves skin issues such as hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven texture, and acne.

There are so many different chemical peels.  What makes them different?

There are a number of different chemical peels that differ in the depth of the peel, designed for specific types of skin, and to treat a variety of different skin issues.  The type of solution used, the concentration, and if it is combined with other ingredients all impact the results you can expect. Here are some commonly used peels and they are divided by how deep the acid penetrates the skin.

Superficial Peels

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs) is a very broad grouping of chemical peels that are considered the mildest of all chemical peels and ones that we frequently use at RevivaMed by our Medical Aestheticians. These peels are very beneficial for the treatment of very fine lines, dry and dehydrated skin, pigment irregularities and acne.  These peels are usually derived from citric (citrus fruits), glycolic (sugar cane), lactic (fermented milk), malic (apples) and tartaric (grapes). Glycolic and lactic acid are the most commonly used. Lactic acid is very hydrating and can brighten the skin. Due to its very large molecular structure it tends to be less irritating on the skin.  Glycolic acid has the smallest molecular structure and is capable of penetrating the skin quicker and deeper, so it tends to be more irritating. Patients describe the sensation as “spicy” during their professional treatment. It comes in a wide variety of strengths, from 15, 20, 30, 50, and 70%, allowing our Medical Aesthetician to choose the chemical peel that is best suited for you. These peels are often gentle enough on your skin that you are able to have treatments monthly with your regular facials.

Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) are an oil-loving acid and the most commonly used is salicytic acid. These acids work very well on patients who have oily skin types because they help control oil production on acne prone and congested skin.  These peels are able to penetrate deeper with their lipid base capabilities attaching to our own natural skin oils. Some describe salicytic acid as a “Roto-Rooter” for the pores. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation from acne breakouts.  It is important to notify our Medical Esthetician if you have an allergy to aspirin as salicylic acid should not be used then..

Jessner’s Peels are unique peels that are a combination of lactic acid, salicylic acid and resorcinol in an ethanol base.  The addition of the resorcinol allows the other acids to be driven deeper into the skin. These peels also vary in strength and percentages of acid used.  Some can be considered a mild Jessner’s if it combined with additional acids, such as mandelic (bitter almonds) that calms the skin and reduces redness and inflammation.  Phytic acid (rice bran) naturally brightens the skin. If you have sensitive skin or rosacea, then you may benefit from having a chemical peel with added lactic, mandelic, and phytic acid.  Following the application of a Jessner’s Peel, our Medical Aesthetician will apply a layer of retinolic acid to further drive the peel into the skin, and facilitate the exfoliation of the skin by breaking the “glue” between the skin cells called keratinocytes.  These combinations of acids provide effective results and encourages skin healing.

Medium to Medium-Deep Peels

Trichloroacetic Acid Peels (TCA) are the most frequently used acid for a medium depth peel.  There is a wide range of strengths and combinations. Often it is used at a lower percentage in conjunction with other acids such as salicytic acid.  These peels achieve optimal results for advanced pigmentation, sun damage, deeper wrinkles and acne scars. 

Only experienced Medical Aestheticians should apply these peels, certain strength can only be applied under direct supervision by our physicians.

Deep Peels

Phenol peels or carbolic acid peels are the strongest chemical solution and result in a deep skin peel.  There are different concentrations and combinations of phenol used and resorcinol and salicylic acid can be added to the mix. They are usually done under anesthesia and should only be administered by a trained physician.

Although these peels can produce dramatic results, we perform a number of other treatments that can achieve similar results without the risk and downtime of deep chemical peels.

What should I expect during treatment?

The way the chemical peel is administered is dependent on the type of chemical peel chosen.  Often the skin is prepped with a medical grade wipe that removes any oil that is left on the skin.  The peel is then applied and often is left on the skin for 3 to 5 minutes. Some peels are applied in a series of applications in the same treatment.  Most patients describe the sensation of the peel as a mild stinging or “spicy” which dissipates after a few minutes. Some peels require a neutralizer to deactivate the acid but some self neutralize and can remain on your skin for 2-4 hours.

How long is the recovery after a chemical peel and what type of care is necessary?

The length of recovery is based on the type and strength of the peel, and the condition of your skin.  Directly after the peel, your skin will likely feel tight and could be red.  

  • If you do regular chemical peels, you may have very little visible peels while if you rarely are treated you may have more obvious peeling.  It is important to not “pick” at your skin at this time as it can cause scarring. Allow your skin to shed naturally.  
  • Our Medical Aestheticians can offer suggestions on what gentle cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens will enhance the healing process and results.  
  • It is crucial that sun exposure be minimized while your skin is peeling. Wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30.
  • You should also avoid heat from showers, saunas, etc as this may cause swelling, and redness.  
  • Avoid laser treatments, waxing, the use of depilatories, or microdermabrasion for 3 weeks.
  • You can return to your regular skin care after a week following your chemical peel.

Why did I not have any visible peeling after my peel?

Some chemical peels are “no peel” peels.  You should judge the success of the peel on the end results instead of the amount of skin that peeled off.  Each person’s skin is unique and the amount of peeling can depend on you skin’s condition and the depth of the peel. No matter how much skin is visibly peeling, it is still sloughing off at a much quicker rate, resulting in improved skin tone and texture, and a reduction of fine lines and uneven pigmentation. 

What products or procedures should I avoid before a chemical peel?

  • Patients with a history of herpes must pre-medicate with an anti-viral.
  • Discontinue use of any retinoids, hydroquinone, benzoyl peroxide, or topical acne medications 2-3 days prior to peel.
  • Refrain from waking, laser, electrolysis, deploritory creams, and laser hair removal for 1 week prior.
  • Patients who have been on Accutane, received chemotherapy or radiation within the past year should receive clearance from their physician.
  • If you have a special event, like a wedding, do not receive any kind of facial or peel treatments for 2 weeks prior.


Our experienced and qualified Medical Aestheticians are able to provide customized treatments to accommodate your specific needs and different skin tones.  If you are unhappy with the appearance of your skin, don’t smoke, and have realistic expectations of what can be achieved, then a medical-grade peel could be a great option for you.  Call RevivaMed at 619-232-3040 for your complimentary skin consultation.