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Dangers peeling lèvres.

Isn't performing a peel on the lips dangerous?

Peeling is a solution that allows the removal of dead cells and the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines. While superficial peeling can be performed at home using certain specific cosmetic treatments, deep peeling involves a more complex procedure. Is it dangerous to perform a peel on the lips? Discover some answers in this article.

Why should one perform a peel on the lips?

The lips are a sensitive area of the face that are highly prone to dryness and flaking. The skin here is indeed very thin, about 5 times thinner than the rest of the body. Moreover, the lips are an area where there are almost no sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for the synthesis of sebum, an essential component of the hydrolipidic film. This is found on the surface of the epidermis and notably helps to protect the skin from dehydration and external aggressions (wind, cold, UV rays, rain...).

Furthermore, the lips, especially the upper lip, are prone to the formation of wrinkles, known as peri-oral wrinkles. These appear with age, when the production of collagen and elastin, molecules that contribute to the structure of the dermis, gradually decreases. The skin then loses its elasticity and suppleness. Skin ageing is also promoted by smoking and frequent exposure to the sun's rays. Peeling can help to reduce these signs of skin sagging and give the skin a younger appearance.

What are the different types of peeling?

There are several types of lip peeling available:

  • The gentle peel or superficial peel.

    This type of peel can be performed at home or in a salon by a professional. It relies on the application of exfoliating treatments, typically based on fruit acids. These promote cellular renewal and the removal of dead cells, but their effect on wrinkles and fine lines is limited. The difference between a superficial peel performed by a professional and a cosmetic peel performed at home lies in the concentration of the product. In a dermatologist's office, the concentration of glycolic acid in a peel can go up to 70%, whereas it cannot exceed 10% in a cosmetic treatment.

  • The medium peel.

    This type of peel often contains trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and is recommended for visible wrinkles around the lips. It works more deeply than a mild peel and is capable of reaching the cells of the dermis. The dosage, ranging between 10 and 50%, and the duration of the peel application mainly depend on the depth of the wrinkles and the sensitivity of the patient's skin. The application of a cream prescribed by the dermatologist is necessary for the fifteen days preceding the session. This type of peel is not applied directly to the lips but to its outline.

  • The deep peel.

    As its name suggests, deep peeling works at the depth of the dermis. It allows for a corrective action on deep wrinkles and indented scars, which superficial and medium peelings will not achieve. Phenol is frequently used to perform this type of peeling. This compound has a very abrasive action on the epidermis. A local or general anaesthesia is necessary, as phenol is toxic to the heart. This procedure is heavy and requires the application of a medicinal cream to prepare the skin between three and four weeks before the intervention. Post-operative follow-up is also necessary to prevent potential complications of an aesthetic nature such as a loss or increase in pigmentation, or infectious, such as the development of herpes.

What are the dangers of peeling?

The risks of a peel depend on its type. For instance, a mild peel is not dangerous and can be performed once a week. It indeed offers numerous benefits, leaving the lips smooth and supple. However, it is important to pay attention to the composition of the superficial peel you are using, due to the risk of ingesting a small amount. Some products contain phenoxyethanol or BHT, chemical preservatives suspected of being endocrine disruptors. It is also advised against using a peel containing fragrances, as these can be irritating to the sensitive skin of the lips.

Medium and deep peelings, on the other hand, carry more risks and several complications are possible: abscesses, inflammatory reactions, fever, pain, swelling, erythema, etc. That's why it's recommended to have a preoperative consultation with a cosmetic doctor or a dermatologist before resorting to these techniques. During this session, the professional will observe the condition of your skin and ask you several questions to determine whether you can undergo a medium or deep peeling and guide your choice.

Following the procedure, the skin is laid bare and is extremely delicate. It typically takes five days to observe the formation of a thin epidermal layer. Local care, using emollients or dressings, will encourage and protect the skin until its complete healing, achieved in 8 to 10 days. Pigmentation begins to reappear after a month and should not be stimulated by sun exposure, as this risks causing a hyperpigmentation. It is indeed necessary to apply a broad-spectrum sun protection daily for 1 to 2 months following the procedure.

Are there any contraindications?

Medium or deep peeling is contraindicated in several cases, particularly during a pregnancy or a breastfeeding period. Indeed, during these times, the skin is more fragile and the pigmentation spots or scars caused by the procedure could become permanently established.

It is also advised against performing a medium or deep peel on the lips if you have a burn, a wound, a pathology of the skin or herpes in this area. It is also recommended to avoid these types of peels in case of contact skin allergy to any of the compounds present in the peel.

Finally, if your skin is of a dark phototype or if you have an intense tan, undergoing a medium or deep peel is not recommended.


  • BECHAUX S. Peelings superficiels. Annales de dermatologie et de vénéréologie (2009).


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