Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How Long To Stop Retinol Before Chemical Peel

How Long to Stop Retinol Before a Chemical Peel

If you have been using a retinol product and are planning to get a chemical peel, you may be wondering how long to stop retinol before having your procedure.

In general, it is best to stop using any products containing retinol or vitamin A for one week before and three weeks after your chemical peel. If you are applying any other prescription acne medications (such as Accutane), those should also be stopped at least one week prior, and the same length of time afterward.

If you have used a retinoid in the past two months, it is usually safe to continue using it until two weeks after your chemical peel. If you have used one in the last four months, it should be stopped at least three weeks prior to your procedure.

In this article we will discuss about what happens if you use retinol before a chemical peel and when to use tretinoin after chemical peel

How Long To Stop Retinol Before Chemical Peel

  • For those of you who are on an acne treatment regimen, you need to stop the use of stop the use of Renova, Differin, Tazorac, Avage, EpiDuo or Ziana five days prior to treatment.
  • If you are using Retinol products, stop the use of Retin-A (retinol) products or applications for 7-10 days prior to a chemical peel. High percentage alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy (BHA) products should be stopped five days before treatment.
  • Always apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily (at least SPF 30 or higher) and avoid the gym 24 hours prior to a chemical peel.
  • Do not use aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (ex. Advil) for at least 7-10 days prior to a chemical peel.

Post Chemical Peel

Once you have undergone your chemical peel, expect to see some changes with your skin prior to getting your final results. Just as there are some instructions you should follow before your chemical peel there are instructions you should follow after your chemical peel to ensure the best possible results

  • On post peel day 3, you may experience mild to moderate shedding depending on the depth of chemical peel, the number of layers applied and depth of the chemical peel. There can be dryness and tightness of the skin. Flaking and peeling three days post peel is not uncommon, unless you had a superficial peel. Superficial peels have little to no downtime, so you may not experience shedding.
  • You may develop small whiteheads, but please note that this IS NOT A BREAKOUT.
  • If you have a lighter skin complexion, you may notice mild redness after a chemical peel.
  • Do not peel or pick at the peeling skin. You must allow the skin to flake off naturally. Picking at the peeling skin can cause hyperpigmentation.
  • To minimize the side effects of the peel, please use the post procedure kit provided by the doctor or skincare professional for 3-5 days or until flaking has stopped.
  • Do not apply ice or water to the areas that have been treated. Also, avoid applying makeup on the day of your treatment because the skin needs time to stabilize and rest.
  • For the first 48 hours after your chemical peel, do not participate in activities that increase body heat and sweat, such as drinking alcohol, exercise/working out, hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas, hot shower spray, swimming or directing a hair dryer to the treatment area. Internal heating can cause hyperpigmentation.
  • Golden Rule: Make sure that you are also avoiding direct sun exposure and excessive heat. Continue to use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher just as you were prior to your peel.
  • Make sure to keep your skin well hydrated with a protective moisturizer. Apply it twice daily or more often if needed to reduce the appearance of flaking.
  • For five days after your chemical peel, do not have electrolysis, facial waxing or use depilatories.
  • Avoid using retinols and glycolic acids for 10 days post peel. 
  • Do not use scrubs, loofahs, exfoliating sponges or other means of mechanical exfoliation on your face for 7-10 days.
  • Do not go to a tanning bed for at least two weeks post procedure.
  • If you are on an acne regimen, delay the use of tretinoin, Retin-A, Differin, Renova, Tazorac, Avage, EpiDuo, or Ziana 5 days post procedure. However, it is fine to resume using a vitamin C serum five days after your treatment.
  • It is extremely important that you DO NOT have another chemical peel until your clinician advises you to. 
  • If you notice increased redness, increased hyperpigmentation or crusting of the skin, contact your doctor or skincare professional.

What Happens If You Use Retinol Before A Chemical Peel

Woman Receives Chemical Peel at Plastic Surgery Services in Hagerstown, MD

If a chemical peel is on your calendar, you can expect a medical-grade exfoliation that will do away with a number of skin concerns. But if you’re anything like us, you are always looking to level up your skincare game! With chemical peels, there are many ways you can improve on the results by adjusting your regimen pre-treatment and post-treatment, or by combining it with other in-office skin treatments.

1. Combine your peel with dermaplaning

Dermaplaning is an aesthetician treatment that involves passing a scalpel along the skin surface to remove dead skin cells and peach fuzz. When patients tell us they need to make their chemical peel count, we recommend having dermaplaning prior to the treatment: it will clear a path for the peel to penetrate deeply and give you the freshest, brightest complexion possible in a single session.

2. Prep your skin to accept the peel with a retinol regimen

A nightly retinol regimen clears your skin and smoothes wrinkles by promoting cell turnover. While it’s common to use retinol alone, it can also prepare your skin to get maximum advantages from a chemical peel. It helps to make the top layer of skin thinner, so you’ll see deeper and more evenly-distributed results.

There’s just one caveat: use retinol before a chemical peel only under the guidance of your aesthetic professional. They will help you select a clinically proven product with the appropriate concentration of retinol. They may also adjust your chemical peel formula with the pre-treatment in mind.

3. Protect your skin before treatment

For about 7-10 days ahead of treatment, you will need to discontinue certain products and carefully protect your skin:

  • Avoid spending time under UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
  • Wear an SPF of at least 30 daily.
  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, and any medications your aesthetician tells you to stop (this may include prescriptions).
  • Discontinue all scrubs and avoid skincare ingredients that exfoliate your skin, such as salicylic acid, BHA, or AHA.
  • Discontinue retinol or Retin-A unless you are using it under professional guidance.
  • Avoid facial waxing. Shaving, on the other hand, should be avoided the day of your peel.
  • Stop using any self-tanners.

4. Protect your skin after treatment

After a chemical peel, your skin will be especially vulnerable to sun and environmental damage, so wear SPF—even indoors! Be sure to select an appropriate sunscreen, use it correctly, and supplement your sun protection with other methods, too:

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 50. SPF 30 is the recommended minimum for daily use, but after a peel, higher protection is helpful. The broad-spectrum lotions included in our physician-only skincare lines offer a selection of non-irritating formulas that are non-greasy and safe to wear after your procedure.
  • Apply the right amount of sunscreen. Use about a nickel-sized amount or more for the face; be sure you are also applying a generous amount of SPF to your neck.
  • Wear sun protective clothing. Hats, clothing, and fabrics with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating will help by only allowing a fraction of the sunlight to reach your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a wide-brimmed hat of 3 inches or more for daily use—you may want to spring for an ultra wide brim after your peel.
  • Use antioxidants to prevent sun damage. No matter how high your SPF, a little sunlight is always getting to your skin. Antioxidants like vitamin C can be added to your skin care regimen to help stop free radical damage from UV rays.
  • Schedule your peel for a time when you’ll be mostly indoors. Protecting your skin is easier when there aren’t any barbecues or river trips on the calendar, so you may want to schedule your chemical peels during the colder months. This can be especially helpful if you’ll have multiple consecutive treatments—we often recommend 3 for optimal results.

5. Schedule a series of treatments

While one chemical peel will improve your skin tone and texture, a series of treatments maintains and builds on your results. If you are looking to address more severe skin problems, wanting to fight continuing signs of aging, or simply wishing to maximize the benefits of your chemical peel, talk with your aesthetician or board certified plastic surgeon about planning ongoing treatment.

When To Use Tretinoin After Chemical Peel

By visual inspection, we could not appreciate a cosmetic difference between tretinoin- and placebo-pretreated skin 2 weeks and 3 months after the TCA peel. We conclude that 0.1% tretinoin pretreatment for 2 weeks prior to the TCA peel will significantly speed healing, which may result in greater patient satisfaction.

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