Chemical Peels: Cost, Types, Risks, and Recovery

Chemical Peels

Quick facts about chemical peels

– Chemical peels are used to remove damaged skin cells thereby enhancing the overall appearance of facial skin.

– There are different types of peels: Light (no downtime) Medium(less downtime) and Deep (several downtimes).

– If performed by a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or sin care specialist trained in chemical peels, they can be quite safe

– The cost of chemical peels depends on the type you get but the average cost of chemical peels in Nigeria is #420 000.

Chemical peels restore the skin’s appearance and reverse the signs of aging by using an acid solution. There are many types of acids in varying strengths to address skin concerns ranging from age spots to acne.

What are Chemical Peels?

Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that can be applied to the hands, face, and neck. Their purpose is to improve the feel or appearance of the skin. In a chemical peel, a dermatologist prepares chemical solutions that are applied to the skin, such chemicals include alpha-hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, retinoid/retinol, and trichloroacetic acid.

These chemical solutions are designed to remove dead skin cells on the surface to encourage the appearance of new and smoother skin.

Once the chemical solution is applied to the targeted area, it causes the skin to exfoliate and eventually peel off. As a result, a newer, brighter, and smoother layer of skin will grow, encouraging collagen production at a faster rate to occur naturally.

Types of Chemical Peels

There are generally three types of chemical peels that vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The acids used
  • Their strength
  • The duration on the skin
  • Objectives of treatment

Here is a list of the different chemical peels and how often you can get them:

1. Light Chemical Peels

Also known as superficial peels or lunchtime peels, this type of chemical peel uses mild acids like alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to gently exfoliate. It only gets rid of the upper layers of dead and damaged skin and encourages skin cell regeneration.

This chemical peel gently exfoliates to improve the appearance of mild skin discoloration, chronic dry skin, uneven pigmentation, and roughness. It also refreshes the face, neck, chest, and hands.

However, the ingredients, formulation, and concentration of a light chemical peel depend on the specific skincare requirements of the patient. In light chemical peeling, the chemical solution is left on the skin for just a short amount of time.

Ideal Candidates for Light Chemical Peels: Light chemical peels are most suitable for patients with mild skin imperfections as well as those who wish to rejuvenate and enhance the appearance of their skin without the downtime associated with harsher treatments.

Application: In preparation for a light chemical peel the patient’s skin is first gently cleansed, then the chemical solution is applied to the targeted areas. Light chemical peels usually do not require anesthetics, but patients may request a sedative or local anesthetic to avoid any discomfort.

Typically, the patient will feel a sensation of tingling or stinging on his or her skin as the chemical solution works.  Having left the chemical solution on the skin for the prescribed time, the physician will wash it away with water and apply a soothing lotion.

Usually, the entire process of a light chemical peel lasts less than an hour

Recovery: In most cases, light chemical peels have few side effects and require no recovery time. Though your skin may be slightly irritated after Light chemical peel, you should be able to return to your normal everyday routine.

When can you get your next treatment? After two to five weeks.

2. Medium Chemical Peels

This chemical peel procedure uses trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or glycolic acid. It will remove skin cells from both the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the upper part of your middle layer of skin (dermis).

This type of chemical works well for treating fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, freckles, and pigmentation problems.

Candidates for Medium Chemical Peels: Medium chemical peels are ideal for patients with fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, or pigmentation disorders. It is not recommended for use on darker skin tones as hypopigmentation may occur.

Application: In preparation for a medium chemical peel the patient’s skin is first gently cleansed then the chemical solution is brushed onto your skin and allowed to sit for just a few minutes, typically around 15 minutes but will be dependent on your individual needs. You may feel some burning or stinging. Treatment may turn the treated area whitish-grey.

By neutralizing the solution, the chemical exfoliation process is stopped, and the solution is removed. The treatment can be followed with a soothing lotion or serum. You only need a neutralizing solution of glycolic acid is used.

Peeling usually begins within 48 hours and lasts for a week and during this peeling process, it is important to keep the skin well moisturized.

This treatment may require pain management or sedatives at your doctor’s discretion because there might be an intense burning sensation during the application of the peeling agent.

Recovery: Medium peels cause swelling, redness, and peeling that subsides after about 2 weeks. So you can take a week or more off from normal activities for recovery.

When can you get your next treatment? After a month.

3. Deep Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are the strongest type of facial peel. Deep chemical peels use phenol acid.

This facial procedure uses trichloroacetic acid or phenol to remove damaged skin cells from the middle layer of the skin.

This chemical peel treatment removes moderate lines, freckles, age spots, and scars. It results in a significant improvement in the appearance of treated skin, but it can only be done once.

Candidates for Deep Chemical Peels: This type of chemical peel is suitable for patients with coarse facial wrinkles, blotches caused by aging or sun exposure, and pre-cancerous growths.  An ideal candidate for a deep chemical peel is someone with a lighter skin tone. It is not recommended for use on darker skin tones as hypopigmentation may occur.

Application: Like medium and light peels in preparation for a deep chemical peel the skin is usually pretreated and cleansed. In most cases, a light chemical peel is performed prior to a deep chemical peel to prepare the skin for deeper penetration.

Once the skin is thoroughly prepped and cleansed, the doctor will use a cotton-tipped applicator to apply phenol to your skin.

As the solution chemically exfoliates away impurities, it will begin to turn white. Upon completion of the treatment, the chemical solution will be neutralized and wiped away from the skin. Then a soothing lotion or ointment will be applied to the face and maybe wrapped in a garment.

Recovery: A deep peel causes severe redness, throbbing, and swelling. You may experience swelling in your eyes and crusting in the treated area before it peels and as the skin heals, you may develop cysts and white or gray patches. Take 2 weeks off from normal activities for recovery but full healing might take several months.

Due to its aggressive resurfacing, your doctor may advise sedation during treatment.

When can you get your next treatment? A deep peel can only be done once in a lifetime.

What are the Benefits of Chemical Peels

Yes, chemical peels can be performed to enhance the appearance of the face, neck, and hands, but are most commonly used to rejuvenate facial skin. Depending on the strong concentration of the chemical peel the procedure can erase or reduce several skin diseases, including:

  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Facial blemishes
  • Uneven skin pigmentation
  • Sun damage
  • Melasma
  • Signs of aging
  • Scars
  • Blotchy patches

One other unique benefit of chemical peel is that it helps to improve skin texture as well as remove pre-cancerous growths.

How Much Do Chemical Peels Cost?

The cost of the procedure varies depending on factors such as location, the type of peel you want to get, and the expertise of the provider. A light chemical peel is much less expensive than a deeper one since it is less invasive and does not require anesthesia.

The average cost of chemical peel in Nigeria is #420 000 but the best way to find out the exact cost of your chemical peel is to schedule a consultation with a reputable dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The expert will be able to examine your skin closely and will be able to tell you which type of chemical peel is most suitable for you, as well as provide an exact price estimate.

What are the Risks, and Side Effects of Chemical peels?

Side effects from a chemical peel vary based on the type of peel some of which includes:

  • Redness and swelling: Redness on the treated skin is a normal reaction that occurs after a chemical peel. Hence, if you have been through a medium or deep chemical peel, you might have some redness for a few months.
  • Skin Discoloration: A chemical peel can cause treated skin to appear darker than normal (hyperpigmentation) or lighter than normal (hypopigmentation). It’s more common to experience hyperpigmentation after light peels, while hypopigmentation usually occurs after a deep chemical peel.
  • Scarring: There are rare occasions when a chemical peel may cause scarring on the face. But antibiotics and steroid medications are usually able to soften the appearance of these scars.
  • Infection: Chemical peels can cause bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, such as the Herpes virus – the virus that causes cold sores. Fungal and bacterial infections are uncommon but possible.
  • Heart, kidney, or liver damage: A deep chemical peel uses carbolic acid (phenol), which can damage the heart muscle and cause irregular heartbeats. Carbolic acid can also cause harm to the kidneys and liver. Hence to limit exposure to phenol a deep chemical peel is done in sections, over a 10 to 20 minutes period.

Some other minor effects of chemical peel are dryness, stinging, and burning. To avoid any adverse reactions, you should provide your doctor with a detailed medical history prior to undergoing chemical peels

Dos and Don’ts after a Chemical Peel

After completion of your chemical peel, your dermatologist will almost certainly apply a light moisturizer or recovery cream, followed by sunscreen. Depending on what type of peel you received, your skin may be red and sensitive for days to months afterward.

Therefore once you leave the doctor’s office there are some dos and don’ts you need to keep in mind:


  • No peeling, picking, or prodding: As tempting as it may be it is best to avoid refrain from picking or peeling any loose skin. By peeling the skin yourself, you risk causing injury or scarring. Rubbing or scratching the skin isn’t good either because it can cause an infection.
  • Don’t wear makeup: Before your skin heals, it is best to avoid applying makeup because it can increase the risk of infection.
  • Don’t rush into another skincare treatment: Good chemical peel aftercare is all about the healing. Give your skin some time to repair itself before rushing into another skincare treatment. Your waiting time will depend on the type of chemical peel you went for.



  • Cover your skin in SPF: Chemical peels make the skin vulnerable to UV damage from the sun and tanning beds since you’ve literally had layers of your skin removed so stay out of the sun and when the need arises for you to go out always apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30+. This will help to minimize discoloration and protect the new, fresh layer of skin.
  • Use gentle cleansers and moisturizers: Exfoliants and harsh scrubs should not be used for at least one week after a chemical peel unless otherwise advised. You can use a recovery cream to help the skin heal while moisturizing skin.
  • Moisturize: It is important to moisturize after a chemical peel. Fresh skin is sensitive and may still peel after treatment. Moisturizing will not prevent peeling as part of the chemical peel process, but it will keep your skin hydrated. Bear in mind that your moisturizer must be free of harsh chemicals and irritants.
  • Follow the advice of your skincare professional after a peel. This one is probably the best chemical peel aftercare tip. Follow whatever tailored instructions you are given on how to care for your skin after the peel.

Final Thought

Whether you need to tackle a long-term skin problem or you just want your skin to look extra fresh and glowy, chemical peels are a great option. Just be sure you go to certified skincare professional. Your provider will be able to help you figure out which peel is best for your need.

Although it is possible to perform a chemical peel at home, this poses greater risks of damaging your skin than having it done by a professional.

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