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Fine lines, sun spots and under eye flakiness are all some of the most common signs of aging. Over the past several years, more and more women are turning to a certain treatment to combat the aging process effectively, and most importantly – safely. The chemical peel. Here are the top 10 things you need to know before getting a chemical peel.

1. Consult with a board certified plastic surgeon.

A common misconception had by many people is that you can be more lenient with whom you choose as your surgeon when dealing with minimally invasive treatments. The truth is, when considering any cosmetic procedure, it is important to always talk with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Only a trained physician can effectively spot the difference between a sun spot, freckle, melasma, or even skin cancer. Your doctor must then determine the ideal combination of peel strength and frequency that is safe and effective for your own specific skin type.

2. Know and understand the strength of the chemical peel your doctor is recommending.

Many people are made a bit uneasy when discussing the acids used in their peels, but chemical peels are an intricate blend of art and science. The specific balance that your doctor customizes is entirely dependent on the type and condition of your skin. Knowing the strength of your peel is important for planning for recovery. For example, if you have a big event a couple days after your peel, you will want to choose a softer peel to avoid flaking at the time of your event. You will typically also want to stay away from a vacation at the beach for about a month after a medium depth peel.

3. Adapt your skin care routine.

Once you make your appointment, your doctor will typically begin to give you instructions right off the bat. It is a good idea to avoid things like retinol or waxing for at least a week before your peel. Practicing safe skin care is especially important after your peel in order to help the new skin to heal. You will want to stock up on gentle cleansers and avoid any hard scrubs or facial brushes. It is also important to moisturize only with highly emollient moisturizers. Keep away from serums, exfoliators, and acids (you just received an acid peel after all), but most importantly…

4. Use the heck out of your sunscreen.

Avoiding unnecessary sun exposure and properly protecting your skin is critical after having a chemical peel. Never leave the house without sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, UV rays are still making it to your skin. Wear hats and sunglasses for added protection and even double your sunscreen. This cannot be stressed enough. Because your skin is so vulnerable after a peel, sun damage can be worsened during the peeling process. You will want to do what you can to avoid the sun for about a week or two as your skin continues to heal.

5. Don’t have a sun-filled vacation for about six weeks after a medium depth peel.

This goes for both a vacation at the beach or a snowy outing in the mountains. These extremes in temperature can cause hyperpigmentation in your skin as it heals. Even with proper sunscreen and protection, your skin is still fighting the damaging effect of the heat or cold. The same rules apply for saunas or steam rooms.

6. Avoid exercise for two days.

Excessive sweat can interrupt the healing process of your skin, so most doctors will recommend avoiding exercise for 48 hours after your peel. For the one to two weeks during your healing process, you will also want to stay away from swimming pools because of the drying effects of chloring.

7. Don’t pick at your skin!

Like with a sun burn, your skin will begin to peel sometime around three days after your treatment. It can be tempting to pick at, but what may seem like an innocent gesture may end up leaving a mark. In order to help your skin best heal, gently pat it with a towel after washing and coat it with a thick layer of ointment.

8. Set a few days aside for recovery.

Because your skin is essentially peeling to allow for a new layer, you may see some redness, flaking, swelling or tightness for a few days once the peeling sets in.

9. Lack of skin peeling does not mean that your chemical peel was ineffective.

With lighter peels, you may not see a whole not of peeling but this doesn’t mean that it is not working. Your skin is still experiencing microscopic peeling that your eye cannot see.

10. Do not over-peel.

Listen carefully to your doctor’s recommendations regarding peel strength and frequency. It may be a good idea to have a medium depth peel just a few times a year with several different lighter peels mixed in between. Your doctor will help you develop a schedule to avoid damaging your skin while maintaining a youthful and glowing appearance.

Ask your doctor about how you can complement your peel with other skin treatments such as a dermabrasion or Dermapen® treatment.

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