Have you ever admired someone’s smooth, toned, blemish-free skin without a visible pore and wondered if it’s due to good genes, a secret from a skin specialist, an army of skincare products, or maybe a little botox or filler?

Sure, they might have one or all of those things on their side, but if someone’s bare face is picture-perfect, pore-free, and glowing, chances are they have discovered the power of a chemical peel treatment.

Chemical peels aren’t new. In fact, the very first chemical peel dates all the way back to Cleopatra, who is said to use sour milk as part of her beauty routine (sour milk is believed to contain lactic acid, which is found in many modern chemical peels.)

These days, there is no need to put sour milk on your face to achieve flawless skin (nor do we recommend that.) Several different acids specifically formulated for the skin are used in chemical peels to exfoliate and perfect your skin, making them an affordable solution to help improve the skin’s texture, tone, and overall appearance quickly with minimal downtime.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about modern chemical peel treatments. We will go over:

  • What chemical peels are and the different types of chemical peels available.
  • Who can benefit from a chemical peel treatment.
  • The most popular chemical peel treatments.
  • Common ingredients in chemical peels and their safety.
  • What you need to be aware of before you have a chemical peel.
  • What happens during a chemical peel treatment.
  • What to expect after a chemical peel (number of treatments, downtime, and results.)
  • Who performs chemical peels, and where to get a chemical peel in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, Tn.

What is a Chemical Peel?

We know that “chemicals” is usually perceived as a bad word, but don’t worry, chemical peels are far from harmful. The term chemicals in this context refers to specially formulated solutions that have been thoroughly tested and proven safe for cosmetic use.

A chemical peel is a professional in-office cosmetic skin treatment that uses a carefully formulated chemical solution applied to the skin’s surface to exfoliate it deeply. This process helps to improve and smoothen the skin’s texture by removing the damaged outer layers.

Many assume that chemical peels are reserved for aging skin, but there are numerous reasons individuals seek chemical peels. Chemical peel treatments can address wrinkles, fine lines, sun damage, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, large pores, melasma, uneven skin tone or redness, and more!

Depending on the severity of your skin issues, you might opt for a light, medium, or deep peel.

  • Superficial Peels: Utilizing mild acids like alpha-hydroxy acid, this peel gently exfoliates the outermost layer of skin, providing subtle yet effective results.
  • Medium Peels: Incorporating trichloroacetic or glycolic acid, this type reaches the middle and outer layers of skin, effectively removing damaged skin cells and delivering visible improvements.
  • Deep Peels: By fully penetrating the middle skin layer and employing phenol or trichloroacetic acid, this peel achieves impressive results, ideal for tackling more severe issues like deep lines and scars.

Some people might achieve their desired results after only one chemical peel treatment, while others may require multiple sessions. Typically, superficial and medium chemical peels are most effective in a series of 6 treatments spread out every 4-6 weeks.

For even more information about chemical peel treatments, view our Chemical Peels Procedure page.

Common Ingredients in Chemical Peel Treatments

As mentioned earlier, it’s common for people to feel wary when they hear the term “chemical,” but it’s essential to dispel the misconception that all chemicals are harmful to the skin. In reality, certain chemicals offer remarkable benefits that can effectively clear and rejuvenate your skin.

Here are some of the most common skin-safe chemicals used in chemical peel treatments, the issues they target, and precautions you might need to take following treatment.

Alpha Hydroxy acids* (AHAs)

Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid, or fruit acids, are the mildest peel formulas and produce light peels. These types of peels could provide smoother, brighter-looking skin.

AHA chemical peels are the most popular chemical peel solution for good reason. Some of the perks of AHAs include:

  • Smooths rough, dry skin and improves the texture of sun-damaged skin
  • Aids in control of acne
  • Can be mixed with a bleaching agent to correct pigment problems
  • Can be used as TCA pre-treatment

With an AHA peel, the temporary redness, flaking, and dryness experienced will not prevent you from working or engaging in your normal activities. A fresher and improved skin texture will result from continued AHA treatments. A series of peels may be needed, and as with most peel treatments, sunblock use is recommended.

Trichloroacetic acid* (TCA)

TCA can be used in many concentrations but is most commonly used for medium-depth peeling. Fine surface wrinkles, superficial blemishes, and pigment problems are commonly treated with TCA.

Some of the benefits of TCA include:

  • Smooths out fine surface wrinkles
  • Reduces superficial blemishes
  • May correct pigment problems
  • Can be used on the neck or other body areas
  • May require pre-treatment with Retin-A or AHA creams
  • Treatment takes only 10-15 minutes

Repeat treatments may be needed to maintain results, and sunblock must be used for several months following treatment. With a TCA peel, you may experience some swelling and redness. This will subside within the first week. Your new skin will appear in about a week to ten days.


Phenol is the most potent peeling agent and is only used in a very deep chemical peel performed by a physician. Phenol goes deep into the dermis, not just the epidermis.

This treatment proves to be highly beneficial for various skin concerns, such as

  • Addressing age spots and correcting uneven skin pigmentations
  • Improving the condition of moderate to severely sun-damaged and weathered skin
  • Enhancing a poor, sluggish complexion
  • Targeting crow’s feet and under-eye wrinkles
  • Softening the appearance of smoker’s lines above and below the lips
  • Treating acne and reducing the visibility of acne scars

Phenol peels no doubt surpass the results obtained from light to moderate peels. What’s more, a single treatment is typically sufficient, and the exceptional results can last for decades. That said, deep chemical peels using phenol come with more side effects and downtime.

Deep chemical peels using phenol typically require a local anesthetic and sedative and should only be performed by a physician. Most patients prefer a series of light or medium facial peels like the ones we will discuss in the next section.

Most Popular Chemical Peel Treatments

Chemical peels that fall under the category of light to medium are the most popular, as they provide remarkable results with very little irritation or downtime.

Some of the most desired chemical peel treatments offered at our practice include:

The Perfect™ Derma Peel

Discover remarkable results in just one week with The Perfect™ Derma Peel’s personalized treatment. Our chemical peel is crafted from a high-quality medical-grade formula, with the added benefit of an exclusive anti-aging ingredient that cannot be found elsewhere.

  • Improve overall clarity, tone, and texture of the skin
  • Reduce or eliminate hyperpigmentation and melasma
  • Control acne
  • Remove or reduce sun damage
  • Soften fine lines and wrinkles
  • Minimize the appearance of pores

Lett’s Smooth

Let your natural radiance shine through! Previously known as the Mini Gloss Peel, this popular chemical peel still offers all the same benefits but now comes with a fully customizable formula.

With its unique blend of cell turnover enhancers, the Lett’s Smooth Peel revitalizes tired and stressed skin, leaving you with a youthful glow that requires minimal effort.

Lett’s Brighten

More information is coming soon! In the meantime, please contact us for details on our brand new Lett’s Brighten chemical peel.

Jessner Peel*

The Jessner peel is a chemical facial peel solution that provides a medium-depth peel. Jessner may be applied before a TCA peel of various concentrations to treat acne scarring (superficial, atrophic scars). The Jessner solution increases the penetration of TCA and can promote a more even peel.

Benefits of the Jessner Peel include:

  • Removes superficial layers of skin
  • Dries out active acne, dislodges blackheads
  • Reduces shallow wrinkling and scarring
  • Helps lighten hyper-pigmentation
  • May improve the overall appearance/health of sun-damaged, acne-prone, aging skin

VI Peel*

The VI Peel combines several of the most effective medical peel agents available and requires no skin prep, minimal downtime, and usually yields virtually no pain.

Benefits of the VI Peel include:

  • Treats hyper-pigmentation and Melasma
  • Reduces sun damage and signs of aging
  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Reduces acne
  • Reduces acne scars
  • Stimulates collagen growth and elastin production for firmer skin

Who Should Get a Chemical Peel?

The answer is simple – practically ANYONE with skin concerns! Whether you’re dealing with pesky blemishes, fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars, uneven skin tone, or large pores, chemical peels are the versatile solution you’ve been searching for. Chemical peels are also excellent for skin conditions such as melasma. 

Thanks to the wide range of chemical solutions available, these treatments can be tailored to address your specific skin issues. Whether you have oily, dry, combination, or sensitive skin, there’s a chemical peel perfect for you.

If you are considering a chemical peel treatment, the first thing you should do is schedule a consultation with our experienced skin care specialist. During this short meeting, we will work closely with you to determine the most suitable treatment option tailored to your specific needs and skin condition.

Detailed information about the particular chemical peel you’ll be receiving will be provided, and our specialist will inquire about any factors that could potentially affect the peel’s outcomes and timeline for treatment. This may include discussing your history with acne medications and any tendencies for scarring. Additionally, if you have a history of taking Accutane, you will want to ensure that at least six months have passed since your last use of the medication.

What Happens During a Chemical Peel?

Getting a chemical peel treatment is very similar to a facial. In fact, many patients opt for a chemical solution as an addition to their favorite facial treatment. While a chemical peel isn’t designed to be the same as a relaxing facial, it isn’t typically painful, and any discomfort should subside as soon as the procedure is complete.

If you need a deep peel performed by a physician, you might require some pain control, but light and medium peels (which are what most people choose) are generally well-tolerated and cause only mild to moderate discomfort based on individual pain thresholds. The most common sensation reported by our clients is a gentle tingling sensation. In some cases, a mild, temporary burning feeling may be experienced.

You can get a chemical peel any time of the year; however, many of our patients prefer to get a chemical peel in the winter months. 

Before Your Chemical Peel

At your consultation, your skin expert will provide detailed instructions on what to do and not to do leading up to your chemical peel. Generally, this includes refraining from using any retinol or retin-A topical medications 48 hours before treatment. Additionally, your skin care expert may recommend further measures to enhance the effectiveness of your treatment.

As the peel date approaches, you will likely be advised to avoid waxing, epilating, or using depilatory hair removal products during the week leading up to the procedure. Similarly, refrain from using facial scrubs and exfoliants during this period.

The Day of Your Chemical Peel

A chemical peel treatment typically only takes about 30 minutes. The first step in the chemical peel treatment process is cleaning your skin gently to eliminate excess dirt or oil. Then, your skin expert will apply the selected chemical serum. They will closely monitor your skin’s response, ensuring the peel is removed at precisely the right time to achieve optimal results.

The solution typically sits on your skin for a few minutes. Once the chemical has soaked into your skin, it will be removed using a neutralizing agent. Light and medium peels typically conclude with a cool compress, hydrating serums, and/or gentle moisturizers. For those opting for a deep peel, a surgical dressing will be applied to tend to the wound and facilitate healing.

After Your Chemical Peel

The recovery process and its effects on your skin will differ depending on the type of peel you receive. That said, no matter what peel you choose, don’t expect to walk out of the office with radiant skin like you would with an ordinary facial. Your face might look a little red and irritated for a week or two, and you will have some peeling. But don’t worry; this is very short-lived!

Generally, with light and medium peels, the side effects are mild, and the healing process typically concludes within a 5  to 14-day timeframe. After that, you’ll witness a remarkable skin transformation, leaving you with a revitalized and radiant complexion.

Following the post-treatment instructions your skincare specialist provides is crucial to promote a smoother and more successful healing process.

That said, the typical recovery timeline for a chemical peel may follow these stages:

  • Day 1: In the first few hours after the procedure, you may experience some redness, tingling, or a burning sensation on the treated skin.
  • Days 2-3: Over the first few days, you might notice dryness, irritation, and mild swelling.
  • Days 2- 4: As the name suggests, a chemical peel will involve some skin peeling, similar to how it flakes after a sunburn. This should begin around two to three days post-treatment. Additionally, this is the phase when any discolorations or imperfections could temporarily be more noticeable.
  • Days 3-4: Around day three to four, you might experience a breakout or observe your skin looking slightly tan or darker than usual.
  • Days 5-7: By the fifth to seventh day, most side effects should start to subside, and your skin will begin to look and feel more “normal.”
  • Days 7-14: Between seven to fourteen days, you’ll witness the formation of healthy, new skin, but it’s possible to see some lingering redness or variations in skin tone for a few more days.

The longevity of the results of a chemical peel following the recovery period depends on several factors, the most significant being the strength of the peel. Typically, peak results last 4-6 weeks or more.

It is perfectly fine to return to work following a chemical peel. However, if possible, you should avoid wearing makeup during healing (at least until the skin has stopped peeling). You also must avoid direct sunlight and extreme heat (such as saunas) while the skin is peeling. Exposure to heat and sun can cause swelling, redness, and irritation. Additionally, your skin will be sensitive to the sun, which could result in a sunburn.

All other normal activities, except vigorous exercise, can be resumed after your chemical peel. Any activity that results in excess sweating should be avoided for at least three days. Sweat can irritate your new skin.

Again, your skincare expert will provide you with specific and personalized recovery guidelines based on the type of chemical peel you received and your unique skin characteristics. They will specify how often to wash your face, moisturize, and which products are safe to use. Following these instructions diligently will help ensure a smooth recovery process and maximize the benefits of your chemical peel, leaving you with radiant, refreshed, and rejuvenated skin.

What Type of Skin Expert Should Perform My Chemical Peel?

It is crucial to ensure that you only receive chemical peel treatments from highly trained and licensed estheticians, nurses, or physicians who are board-certified and experienced in performing chemical treatments.

This applies to both superficial and moderate peels. For deep chemical peels, it is recommended that you only seek treatment from a qualified physician, such as a plastic surgeon or dermatologist.

The Best Place to Get a Chemical Peel Treatment in Mt. Juliet and Lebanon, Tn

At The Lett Center, our board-certified skin specialists are experts at chemical peel treatments.

We offer a personalized approach, catering to each patient’s unique skin type and desired treatment outcome.

Alongside chemical peels, we provide a comprehensive range of in-office skin rejuvenation treatments, both surgical and nonsurgical, to address various cosmetic concerns. Our chemical peels can even be combined with other treatments, including injectables like botox and dermal fillers. 

If you think chemical peels are right for you or want more information, please call our office at 615.443.0901 or book a consultation online. 

Disclaimer: Dr. Lett & The Lett Center for Plastic Surgery, Mt. Juliet, TN. The information on this site is intended for general purposes only and is not intended to nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The photos on this website are not intended to represent the results that every patient can expect. Surgical results are not guaranteed and can vary greatly from patient to patient.