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Chemical Peels for Scars

author image Jennifer Terry
Jennifer Terry is program director for TriCounty Agency for Intellectual Disabilities. As a University of Alabama graduate, she holds a Masters in rehabilitation counseling and a Bachelor in psychology with an emphasis in child development. She also earned an Associate in business management and second Associate in computer information systems from Bevill State Community College. She holds a grant writing certificate from North Georgia College and State University.
Chemical Peels for Scars
Chemical peels can reduce the appearance of a scar. Photo Credit: Horsche/iStock/Getty Images

Scarring can develop for a number of reasons, including injury and acne. Many consider scarring, especially on the face, unsightly and seek ways to remove it. Depending on the depth of the scar, treatment options vary. Dermatologists offer chemical peels as one option, especially for scars close to the surface of the skin.

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How Chemical Peels Work

A chemical peel is a relatively safe procedure whereby a chemical is applied to the skin. When the chemical is peeled away, the top layer of the skin is removed, revealing skin that is healthier, more vibrant and smoother. This procedure is used to treat a number of skin conditions, including acne, wrinkles, dark spots, sagging and scarring.

Types of Peels

There are four main types of chemical peels, and the difference is the kind of chemical used. Alpha hydroxy acid is the mildest of the treatments. Glycolic acid is used primarily on skin with sun damage. Trichloroacetic acid is usually recommended for those with darker skin. Phenol is the strongest solution used in chemical peels.

Effectiveness of Peels

A chemical peel removes the top layer of skin, exposing the layer below. If a scar is close to the surface of the skin, the peel will remove the layer that has the scar. Most scars, however, are deeper. For those scars, chemical peels can be done in phases, with as many as six in a certain period of time. Many people report a significant improvement in their appearance.

Side Effects

Most consider a chemical peel a relatively safe procedure. But a peel can have side effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Certain kinds of skin may experience a slight change in tone, and this can be temporary or permanent. Occasionally scarring may occur, which is usually treatable. Recovery time for a chemical peel treatment takes anywhere from four to 10 days depending on the type of peel used and the depth of the peel.

Skin Care After a Chemical Peel

A dermatologist will provide specific care instructions after a chemical peel. Generally, you should avoid exposure to the sun for a time.

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