Chemical Peel Q & A | O'Neill Plastic Surgery

Peeling season is finally here!! I’ve come up with the most common questions that are asked about chemical peels…Enjoy!!


Q:  What is a chemical peel?

A:        A chemical peel involves the application of a chemical solution to the skin in a controlled manner, causing controlled tissue damage. The depth of the chemical peel is dependent upon the condition, purpose, and aggression of the actual peeling stage. When I say the depth of the chemical peel, what I mean is, we have layers in our skin that have different functions but in basic form, starting at the bottom we have the subcutaneous layer which protects and regulates for your body. The dermis layer, provides the structure aChemical Peel Charleston SC O'Neill Plastic Surgerynd volume to your skin as well containing lots of blood vessels, nerves and glands and lastly, we have the epidermal layer, it is outermost layer that contains proteins and keratin as well as dead skin cells as they have made their way through the cycle of skin cell turnover from birth to death which then you exfoliate.

As your skin naturally repairs itself post chemical peel, your skin’s appearance has pleasantly improved, feels hydrated, and refreshed! Popular chemical peel solutions include alpha-hydroxy acids like lactic and glycolic acid, Beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid or most likely known as TCA. We proudly carry ZO Skin Health and SkinCeuticals product and Peels! We have peels that have different combinations and strength which is so beneficial because you have the choice to go from very light, no peeling and superficial to heavy duty 5-7 peeling days. Consultations with your skin specialist are always required to inform and plan for your overall skin health goals.

Q: What happens during a chemical peel treatment?

A:        Depending on the type of peel your aesthetician recommends for you, there might be some preparation needed, either at the moment of the peel or for stronger peels or a short-term skin regimen that you would do at home. There will be a basic cleansing of the skin and normally a swipe of isopropyl alcohol or medical grade acetone to ensure an excess oil and debris free canvas. Your provider will apply chemical peel quickly and evenly either with a brush or a gauze pad. At that point, watching the skin carefully is just as important as prepping the skin for the chemical peel. Some chemical peels self-neutralize and some neutralize with an application of a solution containing sodium bicarbonate. Most peels are timed anywhere from 2 minutes to 7 minutes.  Skin is then in recovery and that could include a mask or serums and to close out your visit, sunscreen will always be applied. You will also be given post-treatment instructions to care for your skin in the days to come to ensure a good healthy healing time.


Q: Who is a good candidate for a chemical peel?

A:        The perfect candidate for a chemical peel is someone, male or female, with sun damage…which let’s be honest, we all have it! Also, uneven pigmentation and tone, melasma, fine lines and wrinkles, acneic skin, as well as acne scarring and simply overall skin rejuvenation. There is something for everyone and we have the right products no matter what skin type or tone you are.


Q:  What do I do after having my chemical peel?

A:        Your aesthetician will give you instructions on caring for your skin post treatment both verbally and on paper for you to take home and refer back to, most important take-home information will be sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher if you are doing a stronger peel to be used every single day. You will be able to cleanse with a gentle cleanser and moisturize, If you are in the peeling stage of your recovery, my best advice would be to not pick, scratch, or pull at the skin as tempting as it may be. I know I’ve mentioned before that peeling is actually a great thing!! It means you are regenerating!!


Q:  Will I have downtime?

A:        Depending on the type of chemical peel you received, the reaction varies. If you are doing a superficial gently peel also called “Red Carpet Peels” or “Lunch Time Peels” expect zero downtime. Meaning, no redness, no flaking, no peeling. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are having a medium depth peel you may have a longer downtime such as 5-7 days of peeling or maybe the peel you decide on has a 3 day downtime. The A to Z in peels can vary in many ways. We are lucky enough here at O’Neill Plastic Surgery to be involved with two elite leaders in the skin care industry, SkinCeuticals and ZO Skin Health and with these two lines, the focus is change.


Q:  How fast will I see results?

A:        Once your skin has properly healed you will see the results and since everyone heals differently it could be anywhere from 1 to 14 days. For sun damage and melasma discoloration, expect to do multiple treatments before achieving a significant change. Here at O’Neill Plastic Surgery, we offer all of our patients a package deal with a discount for a series of treatments with skin care and our laser services. We will also recommend the products to purchase for your continued use at home.


Q:  How long will the effect last?

A:        The effects are not permanent however you will have an overall glow to your skin for days to weeks. If you are looking for significant changes in your skin, typically, a series of peels within a course of time is necessary. Also, keep in mind that post-treatment care such as protection from the sun will also play a big role in how long your skin will maintain.


Q:  How long in between peels should I wait?

A:        Typically, every 4 weeks. However, if it is a more superficial, no downtime peel, you can safely do it every 2 weeks. I would say most of my patients come to see me on a 4-week rotation for a facial and every other month we include the peel to treat neck and chest.


Q:  How do lasers play a role in skin care?

A:        That is a very good question! Lasers are very beneficial for your skin’s care, correction, and rejuvenation. Rebekah Shapira, our Laser Specialist, is here with us and comes with 9 years of experience with numerous lasers. She will recommend to you the best laser treatment to incorporate into your skin’s care. We proudly have the sought after PicoSure Laser which will revitalize your skin, remove unwanted pigment, and treat wrinkles and acne scars. We also have the Cynosure (Icon Palomar) 1540 XD which can assist in resurfacing and tone correction of your skin by creating new healthy collagen as well as IPL for photo facials, reducing discoloration.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we also have the Cynosure SmartSkin + Co2 Laser! This laser provides customizable treatment parameters to match your skin resurfacing needs for wrinkles around the eyes, mouth, face, hands and chest.

Please note that we require that you meet with your provider for a complimentary consultation about the lasers prior to treatment.


I hope this months’ blog was helpful in answering some of your questions and maybe some concerns that you might have had! Thank you always for the love for O’Neill Plastic Surgery.


Danielle Cios, Licensed Aesthetician





A picture of Patrick J. O’Neill, MD wearing his doctor attire.

About the Author

Upon completing medical school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, Dr. O’Neill completed nine years of residency training. These nine years included a full general surgery and a plastic surgery residency, both at the Medical University of South Carolina, and a hand and microsurgery fellowship at the Kleinert Institute for Hand and Microsurgery. Dr. O’Neill has extensive certifications, training, skills, and knowledge that make him a successful physician who can carry out your next plastic surgery procedure. His expertise and technique will result in the beautiful and natural look you desire post surgery.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Sub-Certification in Hand and Microsurgery

Recommended Posts

Botox has seen a significant rise in popularity over the last 20 years, and with an increase in popularity comes an increase in Botox myths and …

Schedule a Consult