Background: Chemoexfoliation, also known as chemical peeling, is a method of targeted cutaneous ablation using specific caustic agents that allow for rapid, predictable, and uniform thickness of chemoablation to a desired cutaneous depth, ultimately resulting in an improved appearance of skin. Objective: In this review, we provide an up-to-date analysis of all currently available chemical peels for dermatologic use, as well as a step-by-step instructional protocol for an algorithmic approach to treatment. Methods: A comprehensive search of the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, and PUBMED databases was performed to identify relevant literature investigating chemical peeling agents. In addition, a search of all commercially available, prescription-based peeling agents was performed to identify all products currently available in the United States market. Results and Conclusion: Chemical peels are the third most commonly performed noninvasive cosmetic procedure in the United States, with over 1,300,000 procedures performed in 2016 alone. There has been a paradigm shift in recent years, with lasers largely supplanting deep peels. Despite this shift, superficial peels have proliferated in both popularity and product diversity. When used for the appropriate indication and with proper technique, nearly all peeling agents have demonstrated excellent clinical efficacy and remain an indispensable cost-effective tool in the dermatologist's aesthetic toolbox.
Keywords: Aging; Chemical peel; Glogau; Glycolic; Lentigo; Peel; Phenol; Photoaging; Rhytides; Trichloroacetic acid; Wrinkles.