Phenol Peels

There are many chemical peeling agents available and one of the strongest is phenol. It is generally used to treat deeper scars and crease lines. However, even though it is an excellent peeling agent, it is rarely used because of its serious toxicity. Most individuals require some sedation and pain medication before the use of phenol.

Once phenol is applied on the skin, the peeling action starts immediately and new skin starts to form in approximately 2-3 weeks. The new skin is initially pink and then reverts to normal color over a period of 4-8 weeks.

Phenol may be used at lower concentrations also. When applied on the entire face, it may take 1-2 hours but the smaller areas usually require less than 15 minutes of exposure.

Phenol chemical peels are used to treat

- sun damaged skin

- photo aging skin

- acne scars

- freckles

- coarse wrinkles

- smoothen out wrinkles

The potential side effects of phenol include:

- abnormal heart beats

- skin discoloration

- pallor of skin

Phenol peels are used by physicians under carefully monitored conditions. The procedure can be done in a physician's office with monitoring of the heart rate and an IV is always started for administration of sedative medications.

Phenol peels are generally used only on the face.

The Peel should not be placed around the eyes, nose, mouth or ears.

Individuals with dark skinned color usually develop discoloration and should avoid phenol peels

For those with heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms, the phenol peels are not recommended

After a phenol peel, it is important to avoid sun to prevent permanent skin discoloration


- Effective correction of wrinkles

- Results as good as laser or dermabrasion

- Just one treatment is usually required

- Duration of peel action is prolonged for many years

- No special preparations are required


- Phenol can cause a permanent change in skin color; this is very difficult to treat. Even camouflage may not help cover the skin demarcation. For this reason, phenol peels are best suited for individuals with light or fair skin

- Phenol peels are not appropriate for women with dark or black skin, as the skin discoloration is permanent and very obvious.

- After a phenol peel, your skin can never tan again

- Long recovery periods

- Prolonged pale skin appearance

After the phenol peel you have to take some time off to recover. Pain medications will be required for a few days and there may be swelling around the face.

The treated area will appear flaky, dry and will crust. This will be followed by the appearance of new pink skin which will appear normal over a period of few months

During this time period, a make up is recommended. The final results will be evident at the end of 2-3 months

Phenol peel can cost anywhere from $2000-4000 depending on what part of the face is being treated.

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