Liquid-based, chemical peels give a fresher, younger appearance to the face, hands, neck and other parts of the body. They help to clear up signs of aging, sun damage (like brown spots) and acne scars. While the use of acidic substances to deeply exfoliate the skin is not a new concept, these days we have newer techniques and technologies to offer safe, yet effective, chemical peels.
Chemical peels vary by strength, and by the types of formulas used. Some can be as moderate as over-the-counter solutions, available at cosmetic stores. Medium and deep chemical peels are usually done in professional settings, such as a medspa or physician’s office. However, the latter (deep peels) are usually performed by lasers nowadays. This is to avoid complications historically associated with these types of high-concentration, skin peeling methods.
At our skin care and beauty clinic, we offer medium-strength chemical peels in Surrey, while still being able to offer ablative, fractional and non-fractional laser peels – all in a physician-directed environment. Our well-known, reputable clinic regularly treats clients from around the Lower Mainland, including from Vancouver, Delta (Tsawwassen and Ladner), White Rock, Langley, Burnaby, Richmond, Aldergrove, New Westminster, the Tri-Cities, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and even as far as Washington, USA.
If you’re interested in a chemical peel to solve your skin concerns, we are here to help! The first step is to book an in-person consultation with us. We’ll be able to do a thorough analysis of your skin, using our special cameras (like the VISIA and VECTRA® 3D systems). We’ll also be able to provide you with our best opinion on treatments we think will work on you. These may include spa-quality chemical peels, a different exfoliation method, or a combination of treatments, which can do the job better, together.
For example, if you like the sound of getting a chemical peel, but have dark or sensitive skin, this may be too aggressive of a treatment for you (it can cause unwanted pigmentation on these skin types). Likewise, if you are taking certain medications, such as for acne, that can affect your healing time, which would also make chemical peels inadvisable for you. Then, other people have skin needs that go beyond what a chemical peel alone can do. In cases like these, and others, you may be interested in something like:
Plus a host of other solutions we may be able to recommend for you, right in our clinic.
What is there to love about chemical peels?
Our chemical peels are a quick way to get a resurfacing procedure that is stronger than a laser peel. They don’t hurt as much as deep peels, which use higher concentrations of a chemical (usually carbolic acid, also known as phenol, or Trichloroacetic acid, known as TCA).
Chemical peels, in a way, can help to speed up the body’s natural process of skin shedding, to remove burn marks, sun damage, brown spots and mild, topical scars.
Beauty patients who get a medium-grade chemical peel usually heal within a week. They can use makeup after that time. Some residual redness may remain a bit longer. But, a quality, hypoallergenic mineral makeup product can help with that. It’s a great treatment to get when you’re on a ‘staycation,’ or in the winter, when you may not be outdoors as much.
Chemical peels, done over time, can also be combined with other treatments, for regularized, skin care upkeep. They can increase the effectiveness of other treatments, such as microneedling sessions, or at-home facials and creams.
What skin conditions can chemical peels help to improve?
Chemical peels, like the Jessner peel, or others, are often used to treat the following types of skin conditions:
- Age spots or brown spots
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Shallow acne scars
- Large pores and clogged pores forming acne
- Sun-damaged skin, including actinic keratosis, melasma and freckles (in combination with other treatments)
- Uneven pigmentation, such as blotchy skin tone, or hyperpigmentation from a variety of causes
- Red spots or rosacea
Chemical peels, depending on their kind, can be applied to:
- The area around the mouth and chin (for vertical lines, or ‘smoker’s lines’)
- The forehead (for horizontal wrinkles)
- The cheeks (for brown spots, acne scars and fine wrinkles)
- The neck (for fine lines)
- The hands (for age spots and wrinkles)
- The back (for acne scars, if acne has not created open wounds)
And, technically, other areas on the body where skin needs a collagen ‘boost.’
Please note that a chemical peel will not correct deep wrinkles or loose skin (like crepey skin). This method is more like a quick way to enhance your skin’s overall appearance, by getting rid of old skin (where skin impurities often reside), and replacing it with a fresh, new layer.
We do have higher-grade, more impactful solutions at our skin care and laser centre in Surrey, should you wish to undergo these types of treatments. They may require more downtime than a medium-strength chemical peel. However, the chemical peels we perform at our clinic are popular for just that reason; they do a noticeable job, without requiring extensive recovery afterwards.
The best way to find out what solution is likely to work best on your skin, is to come in for an in-person consultation. We strongly encourage you to book today! We’ll also be able to answer questions you may have about the procedure, and learn about other options that may work better for your skin goals and lifestyle preferences.
How do chemical peels work to rejuvenate skin?
It’s important to know that our chemical peels in Surrey are categorized as “medium” strength, in terms of the depth of penetration. Though, the ‘grading’ of chemical peels can be arbitrary. They can also be strengthened or diluted in our office, depending on your needs. So, please take this as a general guideline only.
All chemical peels – whether mild, medium or deep – work by brushing on thin layers of an acidic formula to the skin, where the target skin condition is. Sometimes, it is only one layer. The acid dissolves the dead skin on the top layers of the dermis.
The application of the acid intentionally causes these superficial layers of the skin to peel off (literally, it gets flaky and falls off within a few days). Then, the body kicks in its natural response to produce healing collagen. New skin cells are formed, for a young, fresh dermal layer. It’s a skin rejuvenation method that has been used for about 100 years, or more, by some accounts.
Chemical peels look and feel like a sunburn. And, of course, some sunburns can be worse than others. It is the same with the formulas used in a chemical peel, to get skin to fall off. Some are stronger than others.
That said, you should never try to induce a sunburn with UV rays, just to try to get your skin to peel! That can be very damaging to your skin, and your health. Chemical peels are (or should be), done in a controlled way, with specific application techniques and ingredients, which are known to produce a rejuvenating, resurfacing effect, without causing long-term damage.
The thing that puts our chemical peels in the “medium,” or even the “superficial” category (depending on who you ask), is the concentration of the acids, and the type of acids that are in the formulas we use. Our clinic’s three main chemical peel options are:
- The Jessner peel (among the most popular of chemical peels)
- The Vivier® peel
- The carbon peel
The first two listed above are made by the same company, Vivier®, which produces high-quality beauty products for professional clinics. We will describe these in more detail below. The carbon peel is milder than a Jessner, but stronger than a Vivier® peel; you can read more about it, here.
Click the questions below to reveal the answers.
What is a Jessner peel?
The popular Jessner peel is also made by other brands and companies. It is named after its creator (Dr. Max Jessner).
Older versions of the Jessner solution commonly use around 35-50% trichloroacetic acid (TCA), combined with a dilution liquid, like water or ethanol (at 95%). These days, the TCA can be left out completely for a more mild peel. For cases that need it, it can be added in at the clinic, as an optional strengthener (or even for spot treatments).
However, the thing that makes the Jessner peel a ‘Jessner,’ is that it also contains the following ingredients in equal ratios (you can see they are in low dosages, too):
- Salicylic acid at 14% – this is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA), the same stuff found in acne products at 1% – 2% concentrations
- Lactic acid at 14% – this is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)
- Resorcinol at 14% – this is a lot like phenol, also used in deep peels at higher concentrations. Because of its intensity, resorcinol is sometimes not included at all, or replaced with other acids, which are not as strong, for patient safety and sensitive skin. Replacements can include Retinol, or alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid, and others.
The above ratios typically result in a solution with a pH of about 1.9%.
While there are Jessner-labelled chemical peel kits you can buy online, we would strongly advise against doing this. Firstly, there is no guarantee of quality, and not all are actually as strong as those used by professionals. But more importantly, the application of chemicals to your face can cause damage, if not done correctly, and with precision. Chemical peels can cause discolouration (especially on dark skin). And, improper care can result in infection, or activate viral herpes (i.e. cold sores).
For that reason, our chemical peels are performed in our office, by professional aestheticians. The clinic as a whole is also overseen by a medical doctor.
What is a Vivier® peel?
A Vivier® peel is a very mild option for a chemical peel. It’s not as mild as a laser peel, but it’s not as strong as the Jessner peel, either. It is a flagship product of the Vivier® brand, which makes other chemical peel formulas, like the Jessner peel noted above.
It contains the following ingredients, at their noted concentrations:
- Lactic acid at 10% – this for adding moisture to the skin through an AHA.
- Salicylic acid at 2% – this is generally the same concentration found in over-the-counter acne medications, for a milder treatment to get rid of ‘guck’ in clogged pores.
- Resorcinol at 14% – this is the stronger chemical mentioned above. It’s not only an antibacterial agent, it also breaks down hardened skin cells for better exfoliation.
The Vivier® peel also contains patented peptides for rejuvenation effects, and panthenol for moisture and healing properties.
Because of its mildness, the Vivier® peel is a preferred option for those looking to boost their skin without extensive downtime. For example, if you have a big event coming up, and don’t want to risk residual redness or flakiness from a Jessner peel, a Vivier® peel is a good alternative. Though, we’d still recommend planning for at least a week of healing time.
What are the steps of a professional, chemical peel?
Before the procedure, your skin will be cleansed, to remove oils that can interfere with the acid penetration. We will carefully prepare and apply the acidic formula to your skin using a fan-shaped brush – either partially or fully, depending on your needs. Some solutions can only be used on the face, while others can be used on the hands, neck, or other areas.
The treatment may cause you to feel a stinging or slight burning sensation. This is normal. Typically, no anesthetic is needed. However, if you feel you need it, you are welcome to take an over-the-counter painkiller before or after the procedure.
We will allow the chemicals to sit on your face for a period of time (depending on the goal you want to achieve, and the strength of the solution). Then, the acid will be neutralized with a wipe of water.
Afterwards, we use a special cream to reduce the ‘heat’ sensation of the stinging, if any. We may also fan your face to help cool it down.
The procedure is completed within 45 – 60 minutes. You will be red, and maybe even swollen after the procedure. So, it is not something you want to undergo if you are heading to an appointment, event or any place you don’t want to appear red and swollen! Plus, you may want to relax or keep fanning the area at home, to help subside the stinging sensation.
Looking for a mild chemical peel? We do that at our Surrey clinic too!
The lower-grade, more mild chemical peels often involve less intense acids at smaller percentages, such as glycolic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, kojic acid and malic acid. These types of ingredients are still beneficial for certain use cases (especially if downtime is an issue for the patient). We offer different versions of these mild, chemical coats alongside our HydraFacial™ procedure, which comes with several other beneficial infusions.
Something like a HydraFacial™ treatment is awesome if you have an event coming up, and need a quick ‘pick me up’ for your skin, or when a chemical peel can’t be planned far enough in advance. We encourage you to check out our HydraFacial™ options here.
You may also be interested in the carbon peel, which is a mild form of a chemical peel, with the added benefit of activated carbon, to clean pores.
How many chemical peel treatments will I need to see skin resurfacing effects?
The medium-depth penetration peels we do at our beauty clinic are not meant to be one-time treatments, for most people. It is a beauty treatment that usually requires a series of applications to be truly effective, in the long-term.
Depending on what is being treated, we may recommend repeating the chemical peel process every 4 – 6 weeks, initially, for best results. For example, if you have bad acne scars, you may need a series of treatments scheduled more closely together (we will give our best estimate on this when we see you in person for a consultation).
For a general beauty treatment, however, chemical peels once every 6 months or so may be enough for you.
For regular upkeep, the HydraFacial™ procedure, with mild chemical additives and nutrients, can be done monthly.
Are there side effects to chemical peels? What about down time?
For most people, the side-effects of chemical peels are non-existent. Some don’t even feel pain during or after the procedure.
That said, the downtime of a chemical peel is expected for anyone, no matter the skin type. The treated skin will be red, swollen, and flaky within a few days (like a sunburn). Browning may also occur. But all of this typically peels off within 7 to 10 days. At that point, it is ok to use high-quality, hypoallergenic makeup, with strong UV protection. This can help to cover up remaining pink-ish hues.
The prep and after-care of a chemical peel are very important. They can affect the outcome and possibility of side effects of this treatment. A lot of the ‘work’ in these phases happen with you, at home. For example, chemical peel cautions and care routines include:
- Never tugging at the peeling skin, to try to get it to fall off sooner (you can create unintentional damage by doing this).
- Staying away from the sun, tanning beds and any UV rays (this is serious, since your new layers of skin will be ‘raw’ and prone to photodamage until they heal fully, after a few months).
- Wearing broad spectrum, high SPF sunscreen everyday, and by reapplying often, to avoid hyperpigmentation (this is a must! Even if it’s not sunny outside!). This is called “daylight protection.”
- Keeping the treatment area clean, but not by rubbing it, or using strong soaps.
- Not washing off the solution too soon after the treatment (depending on the formula used).
- Avoiding, or otherwise rigidly using any topical ointments our doctor may recommend. These are meant to improve the effects of the peel, or to prevent excessive flakiness on your skin, and to promote healing. For example, recommendations may include a retinol or retin-A cream (by prescription), benzoyl peroxide (found in acne products), hyaluronic acid, peptides or other medications and products. We often recommend the SkinMedica line, which you can get at our office. This is because it contains hyaluronic acid, retinol and peptides in its composition, which can really help with the healing of a chemical peel.
And so on.
We will certainly advise you on what to do, and what not to do, before and after your chemical peel treatment. And of course, we will definitely be around to help, should complications arise (though this is rare).
Before getting a chemical peel, we will do a skin analysis of the area you want to treat. We will also need to learn about your health history – especially with regards to your skin. Allergies or certain health conditions can make this procedure dangerous for some candidates, who will not be eligible for a chemical peel at our office (and should never get a chemical peel anywhere). This is for your safety. So, we encourage you to be as transparent as you can be during your consultations with us.
Those who are pregnant or taking birth control should not get a chemical peel, to avoid the likelihood of pigmentation issues. Those who are prone to scarring, or who get cold sores, should also avoid this procedure (we will speak to you on an individual basis about this, and possible routes to prevent these outcomes).
Rare side effects of a chemical peel include:
- Skin discolouration
- Scarring (this is usually treatable, however)
- Blistering (this should heal in due time, and can be part of the normal recovery process)
What is the cost of a professional chemical peel at your Surrey clinic?
The cost of chemical peels depends on the specific formula being used, the additions of any ingredients in our office to enhance your results, and the size of the area being covered. They can be customized for your needs. So, we strongly recommend you come in for a consultation to get a more accurate estimate. We’ll also be able to take a look at your condition, and give our recommendation on the treatments we think will work best on you.
That said, we can say that our chemical peel treatments start at $150, but can go up to roughly $500 per session, from there.
Chemical peels are considered an elective, cosmetic procedure. They are not covered by Medical Services Plan (MSP) in British Columbia, nor most private insurance companies. Our on-staff physician is happy to refer you to a dermatologist if you are seeking insured services for something like severe acne, or otherwise.
Prices on this website are to be used as a guide, and not a definite cost for your treatment. Prices can change at any time.
Procedure results are not guaranteed, and can vary from patient to patient.