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Phenol peel

The phenol peel is the deepest type of chemical peel available.

Before You Go

Questions to ask your doctor:

  • Is my skin light enough for the phenol peel?
  • Should I consider dermabrasion or laser resurfacing instead?

Pre-procedure prep for Phenol peel: In preparation for a phenol peel, avoid spending too much time in the sun. Use Retin-A for up to a month prior to the peel to thin the skin and facilitate its ability to peel.

On the day of treatment: You won't be able to wear any makeup or skin care products—including creams and concealer—for 24 hours before a phenol peel.

What To Expect

The solution is applied to a clean face, where it remains for 10 minutes. Your physician will remove all of the acid when time is up. After a phenol peel, the raw skin is treated with petroleum jelly or a waterproof adhesive tape, to retain as much moisture in the skin as possible and ward off bacteria and infections. Your skin will appear pinkish-red and glossy.

Who should do it: It is recommended, and sometimes required, that a phenol peel be performed by a licensed surgeon, depending on the state. In some states, however, these peels can be purchased at some spas and salons, at the buyer's own risk.

For a procedure of this magnitude, choose a licensed plastic surgeon , facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist with training and experience in skin resurfacing—especially of this aggressive nature.

Duration: A phenol peel can take one to two hours to complete. The acid solution may only remain on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes, but you'll be under sedation to minimize pain from the caustic chemicals.

How Painful Is It?

A phenol peel removes the entire upper layer of your skin - the epidermis. The procedure is invasive and painful. Immediately after the peel, your face will be sore and uncomfortable. The pain has been compared to a severe sunburn.

Options for anesthesia: A topical anesthetic is often applied to reduce pain; some procedures are even conducted under general anesthesia.

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