Medium Depth Chemical Peels

Medium depth chemical peels chemically resurface the skin to improve the appearance of the skin. During a chemical peel, a solution is applied to the treatment area which causes the sin to exfoliate and quite literally "peel off". In general, the more aggressive the treatment the more dramatic results, however, the recommended treatment will depend on desired depth of penetration, outcome, and tolerated recovery time.

Medium Depth Chemical Peels Overview - Everything You Need to Know

The Skinny

Medium Depth Chemical Peels
avg. recovery
10 days
$200 - $2000

About the Procedure

Last Updated: 08.02.2021

Medium depth chemical peels penetrate through the superficial epidermis of skin and reach the papillary dermis, the uppermost layer of the dermis. The most common ingredient used in medium peel is trichloroacetic acid (TCA) which can be applied in concentrations of up to 20-35%. TCA was previously used in higher concentrations but led to an unacceptable rate of scarring in patients. Now, the efficacy of a medium depth peel can be improved by combining or pretreating with other chemicals, such as a superficial peel. Before treatment, the skin will be cleansed then prepped with a protective oil or serum around sensitive areas such as the lips or around the eyes. The customized solution will then be brushed onto the skin while a trained, skincare professional observes the chemical changes that are exfoliating the treatment areas. Once the solution has thoroughly saturated the skin, typically around 15 minutes but will be dependent on your individual needs, the solution will be neutralized to stop the chemical exfoliation process and removed. A soothing lotion or serum may be applied after treatment. Medium depth chemical peels can cause discomfort during the actual treatment itself akin to a burning sensation. It is important to choose a trained, skincare professional to administer your chemical peel to avoid adverse side effects.

Medium depth chemical peels are used to create a youthful skin texture by improving the evenness of skin color and texture. Depending on the intensity of the chemical peel the appearance of wrinkles, sun-damage, skin discolorations, blotchiness, brown spots, scars and certain precancerous skin growths can be reduced.

Recovery Notes

Following a medium depth peel, the skin will begin to shed and flake off for around 3-10 days. It is common for patients to experience moderate pain during the peel itself, with very mild pain afterwards. Some providers may apply ointments or occlusive dressings after the peel, however this will depend on the aggressiveness of the peel and depth penetrated. Plan for a week off of normal activities for recovery.

Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for a medium depth peel is someone with fine surface wrinkles, pigmentation abnormalities, or superficial blemishes, does not mind a slightly longer healing time for more dramatic results than a superficial peel, but cannot afford many weeks of face sloughing associated with deep peels.

Not Recommended For

Medium chemical peels are not recommended for use on darker skin tones due to risk of hypopigmentation.

Side Effects

Side effects from a medium chemical peel may include local infection, contact dermatitis, irritation, burning, pruritus, pain, persistent erythema, edema, blistering. Delayed side effects may include scarring, delayed healing, milia, textural changes, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, lines of demarcation, loss of cutaneous barrier and tissue injury, and acneiform eruptions.


  • shorter recovery time
  • treats fine lines
  • treats dryness
  • treats pigmentation changes
  • treats acne
  • smooths rough skin
  • improved skin texture
  • mild pain
  • quick treatment


  • pretreatment
  • temporary results
  • multiple treatments

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