A chemical peel breaks down the bonds between layers of skin on the face, allowing one or more layers to peel away, according to HowStuffWorks Health. Removal of the top layers of skin allows new skin cells to come to the surface, reducing or eliminating blemishes such as discolorations and scars.
During a chemical peel, a dermatologist or esthetician applies a chemical to the face using a sponge. The practitioner leaves the chemical on the skin for a predetermined amount of time, depending on the concentration of the chemical and desired depth of the peel, notes HowStuffWorks Health. To stop the action of the peel, the dermatologist washes the acid away with water.
After a chemical peel, the skin is usually red and inflamed. Most patients experience facial peeling similar to a severe sunburn for a week or more after the treatment. For medium peels patients sometimes must apply a topical ointment or take antiviral medications for several days after the procedure to prevent infection. In the case of a deep chemical peel, the doctor normally employs general anesthesia during the procedure, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. After a deep chemical peel, a doctor applies dressing and bandages to the face.