Chemical Peels

How Do Chemical Peels Work?

Chemical peels remove damaged outer layers of skin to make skin smoother, reduce scarring and remove blemishes. The strength of each peel is tailored to the patient.

Can Chemical Peels Be Combined With Other Procedures?

Peels can be combined with other procedures, for additional improvement to skin.

How Are Chemical Peels Performed?

During a TCA or phenol peel, the skin is cleansed and the solution is applied, which may cause a brief stinging sensation. Petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape may be put on the skin following a phenol peel. During an AHA peel, the skin is cleansed and the solution applied; there is no need for post-peel ointment or covering.

What Are The Different Types of Chemical Peels?

Ranging from mild to strong, there are three types of chemical peels: alphahydroxy acid (AHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol.

Alphahydroxy Acid (AHA) Peel

An AHA peel is the gentlest of the three types of chemical peels. It contains glycolic, lactic and fruit acids that smooth and brighten skin, and is used to treat fine wrinkles, dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. An AHA peel is typically applied once a week, or may be mixed in a milder concentration with a cream or cleanser to be used daily. Treatment takes less than 10 minutes.

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA) Peel

A TCA peel is commonly used for medium-depth peeling, although depth is adjustable. It treats fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems and, in addition to the face, can be used on the neck and other areas of the body. It is sometimes used in combination with an AHA peel. A TCA peel is the preferred peel for darker-skinned patients. Results do not last as long as those of phenol peels, and multiple treatments may be required. However, treatments take only 10 to 15 minutes, and recovery time is shorter.

Phenol Peel

A phenol peel, which is the strongest chemical peel, treats deeper skin problems such as coarse facial wrinkles and precancerous growths, as well as areas of blotchy or damaged skin caused by sun exposure, aging or birth-control pills. Because phenol can lighten skin where it is applied, the patient's natural pigmentation is a factor in determining a phenol peel's suitability. Phenol is used only on the face because it may cause scarring elsewhere. Full-facial treatment can last an hour or two, and recovery can take a few months, with possible permanent lightening of the skin and removal of freckles.

Skinmedica® Vitalize Peel®

The Vitalize Peel® is a light, non-surgical chemical peel for sensitive skin that combines alpha- and beta- hydroxy acids, resorcinol and retinoic acid to gently slough away the outermost layers of the skin to reveal smoother, younger looking skin. The Vitalize Peel® has been clinically proven to help reduce the visible signs of aging. This peel is suitable for all skin types, especially those with sensitivity that cannot tolerate more aggressive chemical peels or resurfacing agents. This peel helps improve skin texture and restores a youthful glow. It reduces fine lines and lightens hyperpigmention and sun damage and effectively treats acne prone skin.


After one Vitalize Peel®, you should notice an improvement in your skin's texture and tone, a lessening of fine lines and a healthier, more youthful appearance. Generally, results are cumulative and maximum benefits are seen with a series of three or more peels.

Should I Avoid Sunlight After Chemical Peel Treatment?

The skin should be protected from the sun for several months post-peel to reduce the risk of complications and maintain desired results.

Are Chemical Peels Painful?

During a chemical peel, anesthesia is not required because TCA and phenol have anesthetic properties, and AHA produces only a slight stinging. With a TCA or phenol peel, when the solution is first applied, it may cause a brief stinging sensation. Post-procedure, a TCA or phenol peel can result in tingling or throbbing, reddened skin, a crust or scab, and significant swelling that lasts, depending on the strength of the peel used, about a week. After a phenol peel, eyes may be swollen shut at first, and the patient may be put on a liquid diet and advised to keep talking to a minimum. After an AHA peel, there may be temporary stinging, redness and irritation, as well as flaking or crusting.

Is A Chemical Peel Covered By Insurance?

A chemical peel may be covered by insurance if it is performed for medical rather than cosmetic reasons.

Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about Chemical Peels and other skin treatments offered at Aura Skin Spa, call us at 415-788-3800 . Our skin spa serves San Francisco, CA and nearby areas.

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