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Phenol Peel

Also known as a Deep Peel

What is a Phenol Peel?

A phenol peel is a deep peel that is sometimes recommended for treating severe wrinkles (from fine lines to deep creases), sun damage, uneven skin tone and texture and may be used in the treatment of precancerous skin conditions. Phenol is particularly useful for minimizing the vertical lines that often form around the mouth as a result of aging. Deep peels take longer to perform and will leave a healing crust on the skin that must be covered with protective ointment and limited from sun exposure. There is a burning sensation, but it is relieved somewhat because the solution also acts as an anesthetic. Phenol cannot be used on your neck or other parts of your body.

Phenol peels and glycolic acid peels are at opposite ends of the chemical peel spectrum. Glycolic acid peels are considered mild, and phenol peels are incredibly strong. Often referred to as deep peels, they tend to give the most dramatic results but also require the most recovery time. The end result, however, is believed to last for years to come.

What to expect during the Deep Peel procedure?

The procedure can take less than half an hour to perform, but afterward patients often look like victims of severe sunburn. A deep chemical peel procedure takes at least 30 minutes to two hours to complete but may take longer. Medications are administered for your comfort during the procedure. Depending on the type of chemical peel chosen and the area treated, local anesthesia may be adequate; however, for larger areas, sedation or general anesthesia may be recommended. After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored.

What to expect during the recovery for the Phenol Peel?

 A deeper peel will involve a more prolonged healing period. After the procedure, the skin will be red and crusty, followed by scabs and flaking. It might take one to two weeks before patients feel comfortable going out in public, and some practitioners say the sunburned look could last as long as three months.

If you think you can handle waiting three months to see the final result, the effects of a phenol peel have been shown to be very satisfactory. Your skin could look smoother, tighter and, if you’re lucky, blemish-free. Unfortunately, the treatment doesn’t come without risk, and it isn’t necessarily right for everyone. A phenol peel will often leave skin looking permanently bleached, which makes it less than ideal for people without fair complexions.

How Many Treatments Do I Needed?

Unlike the other peels which tend to need a cycle of multiple procedures spaced out over several weeks, Phenol peels only require one treatment. 

At What Age You Can Get First Phenol Peel Treatment?

Sometimes patients can get phenol peel as early as in 20’s. For many teenagers that suffer from several acne often prescribed a light chemical peel, but the more severe deep chemical peel should be something that is weighed heavier and therefore maybe not suitable for the teenagers suffering from acne. The idea of when is the appropriate age to begin the processes and procedures to combat the effects of the environment and age on your skin is one that should be thought of is on an individual basis.

Treatment Aftercare 

As part of that aftercare regime, the individual who has just had the phenol peel also needs to consider what they need to avoid promoting better and faster healing. One of the most important things to avoid is exposure to the harmful rays of the sun. Not only including a high SPF sunscreen applied frequently and liberally but also making sure that the affected area is covered and protected from those rays. Also, you should avoid the extreme heat like that given off in a sauna, jacuzzi, even a hot shower or a hairdryer. Any form of heat that could possibly agitate the sensitive dermal layers should be steered clear of. A very important avoidable aspect of life especially at the very beginning of the healing process would be any attempt to exfoliate. Many people think that by exfoliating they can speed up the peeling process. However, a heavy exfoliating could agitate the skin further. Instead, the better thing to concentrate on is the aftercare regime especially the use of hydrating moisturizers to ensure the skin being supple and that will invigorate the healing process the way it should go. Make-up should be avoided as well. Any use of foundation whether liquid or powder could place a bright spotlight of the peeling and flaking that comes after the phenol peel. The better choice if you need for some sort of coverage is a BB cream that is moisture-rich or even a moisturizer with a tint added.  About a week out the patients can start utilizing products with active ingredients like moisturizers with AHA as well as beginning the reintroduction of chemical exfoliants. To keep the results of this peel fresh and maintain that fresh and glowing skin you can couple the chemical exfoliant with consistent moisturizing and use of that SPF sunscreen.

After the phenol peel, many of the people that go through this procedure return to their work and normal everyday life two weeks after the procedure. Though they often return to their daily routines there will still be peeling, crusting discomfort and redness for several weeks up to a month. Painkillers could be prescribed to help with much of the discomfort that will be present after the phenol peel. The results of this one deep chemical peel treatment can have fantastic results that will keep that new skin glowing and radiant for up to ten years. So, a phenol peel despite the potential side effects could be the answer to solving the deep wrinkles, blotchy skin, or acne scars brought on by the stress of everyday life or the environmental impacts of the modern-day world.

To find out more about available treatments and procedures, request a consultation with Dr. Moulton-Barrett at one of his Bay Area offices. Board certified plastic surgeon Rex Moulton-Barrett, M.D., offers advanced care and procedures for Bay Area residents. He has offices in Alameda and Brentwood, CA.

Our Clinics

Alameda Clinic

2070 Clinton Ave
Fourth Floor
Alameda, CA 94501

Phone  (510) 864-1800

Brentwood Clinic

1280 Central Blvd
Suite J-5
Brentwood, CA 94513

Phone  (925) 240-8775



Alameda Location:

2070 Clinton Ave, Alameda, CA 94501


Brentwood Location

1280 Central Blvd, Suite J-5, Brentwood, CA 94513