Chemical Peels

Our skin is the most visible organ on the body, creating a first impression while protecting us from environmental factors. Because skin takes such a beating every day and is often the first thing people notice about us, skin issues such as acne, eczema, and signs of aging are a concern. Bad skin can affect your self-confidence and keep you from participating in activities you enjoy.

Some skin care options may help, including face washes, over-the-counter creams or lotions, face masks, and special diets, but sometimes these are not enough. They can also be inconvenient and messy. If you have tried other options without the results you hoped for, chemical skin treatments can help.

What Are Chemical Skin Treatments?

We offer three chemical peel options at Modern Surgical Arts to improve the appearance of the skin using mild chemical solutions. Typically, glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or trichloroacetic acid is applied to the skin. The acid breaks down skin cells, removing the top layers to reveal fresh, new skin that is healthy, clear, and free of damage.

What Can Chemical Skin Treatments Do?

Our chemical skin treatment can be done on the face, hands, neck, or shoulders for impressive results, including:

  • Reduction of fine lines around the eyes and mouth
  • Improve the appearance of mild scars
  • Minimize wrinkles related to aging and skin problems
  • Treat some forms of acne
  • Minimize age spots, dark spots, and freckles
  • Improve the texture and appearance of the skin

The result of any chemical skin treatment is healthier, glowing skin.

Types of Chemical Skin Treatments

Modern Surgical Arts offers several types of chemical skin treatment depending on the condition of your skin and the results you seek. During an initial consultation with one of our doctors, we’ll discuss what skin issues you want to address, examine your skin, and recommend the best options from the following:

  • Superficial/Light Peels using mild acids such as alpha-hydroxy acid. These gently exfoliate the outer layer of skin.
  • Medium Peels using trichloroacetic or glycolic acid to treat the outer and middle layers of skin. These are more effective at removing damaged skin cells.
  • Deep Peels use phenol or trichloroacetic acid to fully penetrate the middle layer of skin and reach damaged cells deeper in the skin.
  • Acne peels that target acne, blemishes, and surface scars.

Chemical Peels at Modern Surgical Arts

TCA Peel

A trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel is a medium-level peel used to treat mild wrinkles, skin discolorations, age spots, large pores, and acne scarring. It also smooths and brightens dull or flaky skin. Because it reaches the middle layer of skin, it must be applied by a certified skin care professional. This FDA-approved treatment has several benefits, including:

  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Minimizes freckles and age spots
  • Minimizes sun damage
  • Softens fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces acne and skin congestion
  • It is suitable for most skin types
  • It can be used on the face and body

A TCA peel takes about 30 minutes. During application, you may feel a burning or stinging sensation followed by mild stinging while the acid dissolves the top layer of dead skin. Your face will continue to feel tight and peel up to a week after treatment.

Glycolic Acid Peel

This peel option uses alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to remove the top layer of dead skin by breaking up the bonds that hold older, rougher, and dull skin on the surface. After a glycolic acid peel, the dead cells fall away, and the supple, fresh skin beneath is revealed. If a single glycolic acid peel does not give you optimal results, you may want to consider a series of treatments over time. Whether you receive a light or medium peel depends on the concentration of glycolic acid. Benefits of a Glycolic Acid Peel include:

  • Diminishment of fine lines and wrinkles over time
  • Lightening of skin discolorations and hyperpigmentation
  • Refines skin texture
  • Stimulates natural collagen production
  • Opens clogged pores

Glycolic peels performed in our office can be light, medium, or deep depending on the results sought and the glycolic acid concentration used. Treatment may take as little as fifteen minutes for a light peel, but a deep treatment can take up to 90 minutes. After application, you will feel some tingling or mild stinging.

Depending on the level of treatment with glycolic peels, you will need to apply an ointment to soothe the skin during the first week, when redness and flakiness are normal. Ice packs and petroleum jelly may help as well as Ibuprofen. There is swelling and redness following intensive peels that we may cover with a waterproof dressing. Prescription pain medication may be needed, and you will not be able to wear cosmetics for at least two weeks.

Salicylic Acid Peels

Salicylic acid peels are often recommended to treat acne. The acid targets congested oil glands, penetrating the pores and cleaning them. It also helps remove the excess oils that cause whiteheads and blackheads while calming inflammation to reduce acne breakouts. Nearly all skin types can benefit from the gentle exfoliation of salicylic acid peels and their benefits, which include:

  • Smoother, softer skin is evident immediately after the peel.
  • Brighter complexion
  • Pore size-reduction
  • Reduction of acne and blackheads
  • Reduction of oily skin
  • Helps heal sun damage
  • Fades hyperpigmentation of freckles and age spots

You are not a candidate for salicylic peels if you are pregnant or nursing, have a skin rash, or are taking isotretinoin. However, many people can undergo salicylic acid peels who cannot get more intensive chemical skin treatments because salicylic acid is one of the milder forms of acid used for skin peels. Following a salicylic peel, our doctors may recommend using prescription skin care products to maintain the skin and prevent infection.


Chemical peels are done in our medical spa as an outpatient procedure. Our aesthetician will consult with you to determine the best type of peel for your skin.


During a chemical peel, the skin is cleansed and the solution is applied, which may cause a brief stinging sensation. Depending on type of peel, application takes no more than 30 minutes.


Side effects may vary depending on the chemical peel and usually don’t last longer than a week. Common short-term side effects include redness, irritation, swelling and stinging.

What You Need to Know About Chemical Peels

There is always a risk of an allergic reaction or sensitivity following a chemical peel, but this is rare. You will, however, experience some temporary side effects depending on the type of peel you get. These may include redness, blistering, and peeling, which are expected after a peel. These symptoms subside quickly and reveal healthier, smoother skin underneath.

Avoid pulling off the peeling skin, even if it is itchy or irritating. We advise patience so that the healing process proceeds normally.

Although most adults can safely undergo chemical skin treatments, some people should avoid them. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a history of poor wound healing, you should not get a chemical peel. Those with skin keloids, eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea should also avoid chemical skin peels.

There is a risk of complications with any chemical skin treatment. Although rare, complications may include:

  • Redness, scabbing, or swelling that subsides over time
  • Scarring
  • Darkening or lightening of the skin
  • Infection
  • With deep chemical peels, there is a risk of heart, kidney, or liver damage.

While serious complications rarely occur, we inform all patients of these risks. If you have any questions, feel free to call or email us any time for more information.

Caring for Your Skin After Chemical Peels

While the recovery time varies depending on the type of chemicals used, it is crucial to follow our instructions to prevent complications and ensure your skin heals properly. We provide detailed at-home care instructions after your procedure detailing the appropriate skin care guidelines.

After any kind of chemical peel, you should:

  • Refrain from scratching or peeling the skin
  • Avoid excessive time in the sun
  • Wear sunscreen daily, reapplying frequently
  • Wash with a gentle cleanser to prevent over-drying
  • Avoid UV light
  • Avoid waxing the treatment area

Loving Your Skin

Most people long for smoother, firmer, more evenly colored skin. Few people do anything about it. At Modern Surgical Arts, we understand the importance of presenting yourself to the world with glowing, healthy skin that reflects your inner beauty.

Do not let aging, imperfections, or embarrassment hold you back. We offer a complete range of fully customizable chemical skin treatment options to suit nearly every skin type. But we never forget that your health and satisfaction are paramount.

Before scheduling any procedure, our doctors and esthetic skin care professionals clearly outline your options, explain the advantages and disadvantages, and explain all risks. We want you to make an informed decision based on all the facts. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, and we will address your concerns and provide you with all available information for choosing the right option for you and your skin.

Call Highlands Ranch Office Phone Number303-470-3400 to schedule a consultation regarding chemical peels, or book online. We look forward to answering your questions, allaying your concerns, and helping you restore your skin’s beauty and vitality.