One of the fabulous perks of my job is that I get to sample all the things that the Chow Center for Facial Plastic Surgery has to offer. The latest thing I have tried is our in-office medical grade Vivité glycolic peel. Vivité is a line of medical grade skin care products from the same company that brought us famous brands like Botox, Latisse, and Juvederm. Which brings us to the question of whether one should administer chemical peels at home, or have them done in-office by a licensed professional? What’s the difference between a peel done at home or at a spa, and one performed by a licensed health care professional?

Let’s start with the basics. What is a chemical peel? A chemical peel is a treatment that uses a chemical solution to remove dead skin. If administered properly, a chemical peel can do great things for your skin. Chemical peels can treat fine lines and wrinkles, brighten your skin tone, treat acne and acne scars, minimize pores, improve skin texture, and much more. After receiving my first ever light chemical peel, my skin tone and clarity has improved, and it has also made my skin incredibly soft. Here at the Chow Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, the Vivité glycolic chemical peel solution that is used contains a 70% glycolic compound (safe over-the-counter peels generally contain about 10-30%, while some spas have peels up to 50%). Glycolic acid helps to promote the skin’s natural production of hyaluronic acid and collagen. First, you wash your face with the Vivité daily cleanser we provide to cleanse your skin of any makeup, oil, and surface impurities. Then a toner is applied to remove any excess impurities. Next, the glycolic solution is applied. While the chemical solution is reacting, your skin is closely monitored for any redness, burning, allergic reactions, etc. Then, depending on your skin type and tolerance, the solution is neutralized between 5-10 minutes. It’s a relatively quick procedure; you can be in and out of the office on your lunch break!

Sounds pretty easy right? It seems like it would be more beneficial for people to do just do these light chemical peels at home. We’re always trying to exfoliate our skin. But in reality, most chemical peels that are safe to do at home or at the local salon and spa are designed to provide slight improvements in your skin over time. One such over-the-counter peel that is designed to be used at home safely is the new Brazilian Peel ( It boasts to be the first medical strength peel that can be used at home (it still only contains approximately 30% glycolic compound), and self-neutralizes. Even though the peel has been proven clinically safe to use at home, remember to always read and follow the directions carefully.

That said, in the age of the internet, savvy web surfers are also able to find stronger, medical grade peels that are sold illicitly and illegally. Administering medical grade peels at home is an invitation to disaster. Serious complications can occur with peels, from permanent skin color changes (such as loss of color) to scarring and even life threatening electrolyte imbalances in some cases. There is a much higher risk of things going wrong when you attempt a chemical peel yourself. Imagine how much it would cost to rectify the damage you could inflict on yourself if indeed something went wrong. This is why I highly recommend using products specifically designed for use at home, or, for more significant results, having a chemical peel done by a licensed professional. Licensed professionals at a credible medical facility, such as the Chow Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, have years of experience administering chemical peels, not to mention the medical knowledge and background to prevent and treat complications. They are also able to evaluate your skin and know what works best for your particular skin type. A medical office is also able to provide a more effective peel that you could not purchase on your own which can deliver better, longer lasting results than any over-the-counter peels.

Regardless of whether you chose to have your peel in office or at home, remember to avoid direct sun exposure immediately after your peel, and always put on sunscreen!