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Aging can really take a toll on your appearance, and can impact self-confidence and quality of life for just about anyone in the Richmond area. A chemical peel is a great way to walk back the effects of aging, eliminating damaged, aged skin for a refreshed, younger appearance. Richmond Plastic Surgeons offers chemical peels for men and women in Richmond, Midlothian and surrounding areas of Virginia.

What Exactly are Chemical Peels?

Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that use special chemical combinations to remove the outer layers of damaged skin. The peels penetrate the skin to a certain depth, based on the specific nature of your skin damage, and are perfect for anyone with facial blemishes, wrinkles, and uneven skin pigmentation.

Our medspa offers:

  • Light chemical peels, which exfoliate the skin and remove superficial imperfections
  • Medium chemical peels, which reduce mild to moderate lines and wrinkles
  • Deep chemical peels, to treat more advanced and severe skin damage

How do Chemical Peels Work?

Chemical peels work by penetrating the skin and loosening the bonds holding dead and damaged skin cells together. Chemical peels are not just for your face — they are beneficial anywhere on the body. At Richmond Plastic Surgeons, we use chemical peels with a combination of acids and boosters from the top skin care lines. Peels from SkinMedica, SkinCeuticals, Image, PCA,Vi and our proprietary RPS Metamorphosis and Metamorphosis Advanced peels address multiple concerns simultaneously.

Our chemical peels use trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), but the precise formula may be adjusted to meet your unique needs and goals.

The Chemical Peel Treatment

Chemical Peel

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), such as glycolic, lactic, or fruit acids are the mildest of the peel formulas and produce light peels. These types of peels can provide smoother, brighter-looking skin and require very little downtime. 

AHA peels are often used to treat fine wrinkling, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Various concentrations of an AHA may be applied weekly or at longer intervals to obtain the best result. An alpha hydroxy acid, such as glycolic acid, can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regimen to improve the skin’s texture.

Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA)

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can be used in many concentrations, but it is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA. The results of TCA peel are usually less dramatic than and not as long-lasting as those of a phenol peel. In fact, more than one TCA peel may be needed to achieve the desired result. The recovery from a TCA peel is usually shorter than with a phenol peel.

What Are the Benefits of a Chemical Peel?

Our patients love chemical peels because they can be customized to the unique needs of your skin. A chemical peel will not only remove flaws, while promoting the development of new, younger skin. In many cases, chemical peels are an excellent alternative to surgery.

With over 20 different peels available, we can custom layer and blend a peel for your specific needs. Our peels can:

  • Lighten dark spots and sun damage
  • Improve the depth and soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Promote new skin cell growth
  • Lighten post inflammatory hyperpigmentation from injury or acne scars
  • Improve rough texture and uneven skin tone
Richmond Plastic Surgeons

Am I the Ideal Candidate for a Chemical Peel?

Because of the wide variety of chemical peels, they are very beneficial for all skin types, so anyone is a candidate. We even offer chemical peels that are safe for women who are pregnant, those who have rosacea, and those who have sensitive skin.

Chemical peels are effective for improving:

  • Uneven pigmentation
  • Dry, dull complexion
  • Lines and wrinkles
  • Sun damage
  • Scars

If you have sagging skin that hangs downward on your face, we may recommend a facelift prior to your chemical peel treatments.

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What Should I Do Before My Chemical Peel?

Your first step will be to set up an in-person consultation, here at Richmond Plastic Surgeons. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know so you can be properly prepared for your procedure.

We will choose the right peel for your concerns and lifestyle. Some peels cause little to no flaking, while others result in noticeable shedding.  We will work with your schedule to achieve the results you desire.

We will discuss your expectations with you, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions and express any concerns that you may have. If you have a history of herpes, you should inform your physician prior to the procedure.

You will need to stop the use of retinols, vitamin C, any exfoliating scrubs and glycolic acid products for five days prior to your appointment. 

Sometimes Retin A – a prescription medication derived from Vitamin A – is used to pre-treat the skin, thinning out the skin’s surface layer, allowing the TCA solution to penetrate more deeply and evenly. If your skin won’t tolerate Retin-A pre-treatment, an AHA cream may be used instead. 

Hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, is sometimes used in conjunction with Retin-A or AHA pre-treatment, especially if you have blotchy skin areas or pigmentation problems. You may have to spend a month or more in the pre-treatment phase before the doctor will schedule your actual peel.

What Should I Expect During My Chemical Peel Treatment?

Most chemical peels can be safely performed right in our office, and anesthesia isn’t required for phenol or TCA peels because the chemical solution acts as an anesthetic. Sedation may be used, however, to relax you and keep you comfortable. No anesthesia is needed for AHA peels. Treatments last 30 to 45 minutes, during which you may experience mild tingling, itching, or heat. These sensations only last a few minutes, and your skin will be cooled down.

For an AHA peel, your doctor will apply the AHA solution to your cleansed facial skin. Depending on the strength of the peel, periodic treatments may be necessary until the desired effects are achieved.

For a TCA peel, the skin is thoroughly cleansed, and the esthetician will carefully apply the solution. Two or more TCA peels will potentially be needed to obtain the desired result. These are typically spaced out over several months. Mild TCA peels can be repeated monthly, if needed.

Light Chemical Peel

For a light chemical peel, we use a combination of alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids. Most patients remain comfortable during the treatment without the use of a topical or local anesthesia.

Medium Chemical Peel

A medium chemical peel uses trichloroacetic acid, and a sedative may be required for the treatment. They are recommended for surface wrinkles, moderate sun damage and imperfections in pigmentation.

Deep Chemical Peel

We use phenol acid for our deep chemical peels to treat severe pigmentation problems and deeper wrinkles, as well as certain types of skin lesions. The treatment can lighten the skin color, so it’s not recommended for patients with dark skin tones. Deep chemical peels require the use of anesthesia.

After Your Treatment

You will be given a complimentary post-care kit, which we will explain how to use to ensure optimal results. Immediately following your chemical peel, your skin will look hydrated and glowing. Usually, late on the third day, you will experience tightness and potential flaking and peeling that last for a few days. You may need to apply an AHA-based face wash or cream once or twice a day, at home, to accomplish your optimal goal, and we may add Retin-A or a bleaching agent to your at-home treatment schedule. After several weeks of at-home use, your doctor will examine your skin to determine if your regimen needs adjustment.

After an AHA peel, it is common to experience some temporary flaking or scaling, redness and dryness of the skin, and these conditions disappear as your skin adjusts to treatment.

After a TCA peel, your doctor may prescribe a mild pain medication to relieve any tingling or throbbing. If tape was used to cover your face, it can come off after a day or two, with a crust or scab forming on the treated area.

A TCA peel may also cause significant swelling, depending on the strength of the peel used. To help your face heal properly, you’ll want to follow your doctor’s specific post-operative instructions.

Avoid exercise for 48 hours and direct sunlight for one week after your treatment. We will give you realistic expectations and detailed instructions depending on the peel chosen.

Getting Back to Normal

The after-effects of an AHA peel won’t keep you from working or engaging in your normal activities. You’ll need to protect your skin from the sun after a mild acid peels, and your doctor can recommend a sunblock with adequate UVA and UVB protection.

A fresher and improved skin texture will result with continued AHA treatments.

With a TCA peel, the moderate discomfort and mild swelling you may experience will subside within a week. In a week to ten days, your new skin will become apparent and you should be healed sufficiently to return to your normal activities. It is best to avoid sun exposure unless you are adequately protected.

About two weeks after treatment, you may return to work and resume some of your normal activities, and your skin will be healed enough for you to wear makeup. (For makeup tips, ask your plastic surgeon for the ASPS brochure on camouflage cosmetics.)

Richmond Plastic Surgeons


Will I Have Scars After Getting Chemical Peels?

No — our specially trained estheticians take extra care to avoid any scarring.

When Will I See the Results?

Healing time varies for each type of chemical peel.

  • With a light chemical peel, the skin may flake and be dry and red. You should stay home for the first 24 hours.
  • A medium chemical peel involves swelling for the first seven days, and you’ll need to limit your activities for seven to 10 days.
  • Deep chemical peels may come with pain medication to help with the discomfort. The area will be bandaged for one to two days, and you will need to use an antiseptic medication to prevent infection. After seven to 10 days, the area will scab over, before it falls off naturally. Your skin will have a red appearance, gradually returning to its natural color over the following weeks.

Smoking can delay the healing of the skin, so you may need to refrain from smoking for at least one week after your chemical peel.

What Are Possible Complications of Chemical Peels?

Our medical estheticians are highly specialized, and will avoid things like:

  • Uneven skin coloration
  • Cold sores in patients with a history of cold sores or herpes
  • Scarring

How Long Will the Results of My Chemical Peel Last?

Deep chemical peels offer the longest-lasting results. Light chemical peels can be performed monthly to keep your skin looking refreshed.

How Much Do Chemical Peels Cost in Richmond?

Chemical peels are elective and not covered by insurance. After your consultation, we provide a detailed cost so you can review your budget and be prepared for the procedure. To give you an idea, it is $95 to $275 per peel, and we offer discounts for a series of three treatments. We accept several payment options, and financing is available through CareCredit®.

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If you would like more information regarding a specific procedure, or wish to have a member of our staff contact you, please fill out this contact form and let us know how we can best serve you!

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