Risks and Side Effects
Chemical peels are considered to be fairly safe treatments if administered by skilled practitioners, but the deeper the peel the higher the risk of complications and side effects.
This treatment is very effective but may also pose some dangers for certain people. You should consult your doctor before a treatment to ensure that phenol peels are an appropriate choice for your particular situation.
Some risks include:
Permanent Lightening of the Skin: It does effectively remove freckles and dark spots, however, your skin will look permanently bleached following a treatment. For this reason, they are not recommended if you have a lot of freckles since you will be left with a marked difference between your pale face and the still freckled skin of your neck and chest. Phenol peels can also cause spotting or blotches in darker skinned people and will likely leave a demarcation line as evidence that you have used this treatment.
Sensitivity towards the Sun: Although glycolic and salicylic acid peels require you to stay out of the sun for a couple of weeks following a treatment, phenol peels will leave your skin permanently sensitive to sunlight and you will need to use a high quality, full-spectrum sunscreen when outdoors.
Redness: After a peel your skin will be red and crusty. Even after your face regains a smooth texture, it will still look severely sunburned for up to 3 months. You may not feel comfortable going out in public for a few weeks, but after the initial crusting and peeling disappears, you should be able to cover the redness with makeup. Once the skin heals completely, you will be left with a paler skin tone.
Swelling: Depending on your level of sensitivity, you will experience moderate to severe swelling, but this will improve within 7-10 days.
Peeling: Your skin will peel and flake for about 1-2 weeks. This is normal since the purpose of the treatment is to exfoliate and lift away the top layers of damaged skin.
Oozing and Crusting: Since phenol peels are so strong you may develop scabs, oozing, or crusty patches. This will clear up as the skin recovers.
Pain: These peels are considered "deep" treatments so you may need to take pain medications for a few days afterwards.
Inability to Tan: Since the skin's ability to produce pigment is reduced, you will likely be unable to tan after phenol peel skin lightening effects. If you enjoy being outdoors, you may have to use makeup or spray-on formulas to ensure that your facial skin tone matches the rest of your body.
Possibility of Pigmentation: They work similar to a lightening agent so darker skin tones have a higher risk of hyper-pigmentation or uneven pale blotches.
Scarring: Due to the harsh nature of this type of peel scarring may occur.
Costly: They are quite costly, although only one treatment is needed rather than the several re-applications often necessary with other types of peels.