AgingSkinNet Article
The Lunchtime Peel: What It Can Do for You

Dermatologists have a variety of treatments to make your skin feel better and look younger. One popular treatment is the lunchtime peel.

This cosmetic procedure offers several benefits. People really like that it can be performed on their lunch hour and that they can return to work afterward. Another well-liked benefit is that this peel can be performed as early as 25 to 30 years of age when the first signs of aging appear on the face. A lunchtime peel can diminish fine lines, some skin discoloration, and roughness.

What a Lunchtime Peel Does
This cosmetic procedure, also called a superficial chemical peel because it treats only the top layers of skin, produces new skin that is more youthful looking. People see fewer lines and wrinkles and a more even skin tone. The skin also feels smoother.

Who is Qualified to Perform Chemical Peeling?
Dermatologists and dermatologic surgeons are uniquely qualified to perform chemical peels. Their medical training gives them an in-depth knowledge of the skin. The dermatologist should be board-certified and have experience performing chemical peels.

What Qualifies a Patient for a Lunchtime Peel?
The first qualification is the desire to diminish early signs of aging on the skin. If a lunchtime peel interests you, a consultation with a dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon is necessary to determine if a lunchtime chemical peel is right for you.

It is important to know that this chemical peel is not appropriate for people who have:

  • Skin that tends to scar or discolor after being injured

  • Had certain cosmetic procedures

  • Taken isotretinoin in the past 6 months

You also should be psychologically prepared for a lunchtime peel. While this procedure only treats the top layers of skin, it is still a medical procedure that requires a willingness to follow post-procedure instructions. After the procedure, you may need to apply medication and must avoid sun exposure while the skin heals.

If all of this makes you a bit anxious, be sure to ask if a "test spot" can be peeled first.

What Determines if a Lunchtime Peel is Appropriate?
The dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon determines the degree of skin damage by carefully examining the patient’s skin during the consultation. How deeply the damage extends into the skin determines if a lunchtime peel can appropriately treat the skin.

Can a Lunchtime Peel Be Performed on All Skin Colors?
Yes. While a superficial chemical peel can safely treat any skin color, pale white to white skin is most likely to show early signs of aging. A lunchtime peel is best for treating this early skin damage. A lunchtime peel also may be used to treat melasma, a skin condition that causes patches of darker skin. Melasma primarily affects women with darker skin.

What Time Commitment does a Lunchtime Peel Require?
Only a few lunch hours are needed, which is why this cosmetic procedure is also called a "lunchtime peel.” The entire procedure is usually performed in less than an hour — and often less than 30 minutes — in a dermatologist’s office. You can leave immediately after the procedure and resume normal daily activities. There are some post-procedures instructions to follow such as applying medication to the treated skin and avoiding sun exposure.

For optimal results, 3 to 5 peels may be recommended. These are performed at regular intervals, which may be once every 2 weeks, monthly, or less frequently.

What are the Side Effects of a Lunchtime Peel?
Skin redness and slight swelling for a day or two are common.

When a person with darker skin has a lunchtime peel, it is important for that person to know that treated skin may temporarily lose pigment after this procedure. This temporary pigment loss can usually be disguised with makeup until the normal skin color returns.

What are the Long-Term Benefits?
This peel is very effective in rejuvenating skin that has early signs of aging — fine wrinkles, roughness, and some discoloration. It may be possible to maintain the results from a lunchtime peel for some time by avoiding sun exposure. Protecting your skin from the sun also has the long-term benefit of reducing your overall risk of getting skin cancer.

One long-term benefit of having a dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon perform a lunchtime peel is that you will become this doctor’s patient. The doctor can monitor you for signs of aging including gravitational aging — the constant pull of gravity on muscles under the skin. Gravitational aging eventually causes crow’s feet, jowls, frown lines, and neck bands. These can be safely and effectively treated with other cosmetic procedures.

Related Links
Chemical Peeling (AAD pamphlet)
Cosmetic Procedures: Chemical Peeling

Tanzi EL and Alster TS. “Skin Resurfacing: Ablative Lasers, Chemical Peels, and Dermabrasion.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI et al, editors. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine. 7th edition. United States of America, McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p. 2369-70.

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Page last updated 10/8/08

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