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What to Expect From a Deep Phenol Peel Treatment

Phenol Peel: What's the deal with the peel?

Do you have deep facial wrinkles or skin that’s damaged by the sun or scars?

Then a deep chemical peel might be the treatment for you.

There the godfather of peels when it comes to treating severe skin conditions.

It’s the deepest peel that can be performed on your skin, which offers amazing facial rejuvenation results.

What is a phenol peel?

Phenol peel, otherwise known as carbolic acid, exfoliates deeply, removing the outer layer of your skin so that it can eradicate damaged skin cells, promote collagen production, improve acne scarring, and resurface your skin.

This type of skin resurfacing procedure can be extremely effective at treating signs of severe sun damage and discolouration, acne scars, blemishes and precancerous growths.

They can also diminish deep wrinkles and lines; in fact, a phenol peels special feature is its ability to boost the renewal of the elastic and collagen fibres within your dermis, which gives skin a significant improvement in its functional properties.

Essentially renewal and rejuvenation take place in all layers of your skin, and you’ll be left with a smoother, clearer, younger-looking layer of skin. One treatment with a deep chemical peel will produce long-lasting and dramatic results that can last for up to 10 years.

Deep peels require more downtime, and you must use an experienced practitioner to perform the chemical peel, as the depth of penetration is determined by the level of frosting and can quickly cause negative side effects, especially if not administered correctly.


A deep chemical peel usually involves some pretreatment for up to eight weeks. This will prepare your skin and speed the healing process.

Pre-treatment will involve optimal cleansing, correction of skin irritations, reduction of pigmentation disorders and stimulation of skin renewal. These goals can be achieved by special highly effective washing gels, antioxidants, bleaching agents and retinol-containing creams.

Pre-treatment may also include using a retinoic acid cream or serum like A+ retinoid complex, which helps to gently resurface, thus allowing the chemical solution to penetrate more evenly and deeply. At the same time, effective sun protection must be taken into account.

The phenol peel procedure

  • at the beginning of each treatment, you will be given a comprehensive consultation and facial analysis
  • you will then be given a sedative to relax along with a local anaesthetic which will numb your face
  • your face is then thoroughly cleansed
  • the phenol solution will be methodically brushed onto your skin and observed for the rate of change
  • multiple layers can be applied to problem areas, such as deep wrinkles or scars
  • the phenol solution will cause your skin to frost, making it turn white as it chemically exfoliates away impurities
  • once treatment is complete, the solution will be neutralized and removed from your skin
  • following treatment, a soothing ointment is applied to your face to keep the skin moisturised
  • your skin may be covered with a bandage
  • the treatment will usually last around one hour and should cause very little pain; generally, the intensity will match the requirements of your facial skin concerns.


Thanks to local anaesthetics and a mild tranquillizer, the treatment itself are not painful. After that, however, pain can occur for the first approx. 6 hours, requiring the administration of stronger analgesics. In this phase, cooling devices may be used for pain relief. After 24 hours, the pain usually subsides.

Although phenol peels are performed on an outpatient basis, we recommend staying over if you are given the opportunity because medical care is important; the next morning, your bandage will be removed. You should expect to see your face is swollen, which is why you’re advised to rest for at least a week. Although the swelling will disappear in about two weeks, your skin can remain red for up to three months. Your practitioner will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable.

After six to eight weeks, most of the redness is completely gone or only occurs occasionally. The healing process is completed after about six months; your skin tightens and renews itself significantly during this time. Effective sunscreen is a must during and after healing.

Deep chemical peel risks

Whilst a phenol peel treatment produces wonderful results; there are potential side effects to be aware of:

  • scarring
  • sedation is used
  • deep peels come with the risk of hypo-pigmentation
  • they can cause demarcation between the face and neck
  • they can only be performed by a dermatologist, doctor or plastic surgeon
  • the chemical used in a deep chemical peel is phenol which can lighten your skin that’s treated, referred to in the industry as post-inflammatory pigmentation
  • it is also important to note, with this kind of peel, your new skin can lose its ability to tan normally
  • it is essential to have an experienced practitioner perform a phenol peel, as the depth of penetration is determined by the level of frosting and can quickly cause negative side effects, especially if not administered correctly

For more information, the article on 5 things to expect before and after a chemical peel is worth a read.

When should you avoid a phenol peel?

  • if you have very dark skin
  • if you have inflammatory rashes
    if you have insulin-dependent diabetes
    if you have heart conditions, in case of impaired cardiac, hepatic or renal function. Be sure to tell your surgeon about any heart problems and include them in your medical history.


Whilst we don’t offer this treatment in our practice, we did want to write an in-depth article about it because, over the years, we have had many clients referred to us due to poorly-performed deep peels.

As you can see, this treatment is absolutely not to be taken lightly; there is a lot to think about pre, during, and post-treatment and a lot of conditions that can contraindicate it.

Phenol peels can have hazardous side effects; if you have a heart condition, for example, the absorption of phenol through your skin can result in nerve damage and a change in heart rhythms, which can be fatal.

Before having a deep phenol peel, it is super important to seek medical advice and do your research well, so you can be safe knowing that this is the treatment for you.


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