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Darker Skin and Side Effects of Chemical Peels

J Am Acad Dermatol; ePub 2018 Mar 5; Vemula, et al

Superficial chemical peels performed in patients with Fitzpatrick skin types III-VI had a relatively low complication rate, while Fitzpatrick skin type VI had higher odds of experiencing an adverse event, a recent study found. In addition, side effects were noted to be less frequent during the winter months. Researchers sought to determine the frequency of side effects and complications associated with superficial chemical peels in patients with skin types III-VI. They performed a 5-year single center retrospective analysis and found:

  • Of 473 chemical peel treatments included, 18 (3.8%) were associated with short-term (≤2 weeks) or long-term (>2 weeks) complications.
  • The most frequent complications were crusting (2.3%), post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (1.9%), and erythema (1.9%).
  • All side effects resolved within 8 months of treatment and were located on the face.
  • When stratified by season, side effects were noted to be less common during the winter.
  • In the adjusted model, Fitzpatrick skin type VI was associated with a higher odds of side effects.


Vemula S, Maymone MBC, Secemsky EA, et al. Assessing the safety of superficial chemical peels in darker skin: A retrospective study. [Published online ahead of print March 5, 2018]. J Am Acad Dermatol. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2018.02.064.

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