How to Reduce Swelling After a Chemical Peel

If you experience edema, or swelling, after a chemical peel, there are a few precautions and treatments you can consider before and after a chemical peel:


NO - Reduce or completely eliminate all sweetened drinks, sugar, refined carbohydrates (anything with white flour - think bread, tortillas, cereal, pasta, etc.), salt, alcohol, ground meat, omega-6 fatty acids (some seeds and vegetable oils), whole milk or cream, MSG (preservative), gluten (protein in some grains), trans fats (hydrogenated oils), and any processed foods (because they contain most all these ingredients). This list is from Dr. Ann Kulze, MD.

You should also check all medications and supplements you are taking to see if they pose other risks. This post includes a list of problematic items.

YES - Stock up on dark-colored organic lettuce mixes and vegetables, wild-caught salmon or other oily fish, and dark or brightly-colored fruits (in moderation). Cook with extra virgin olive oil. Freshly brewed tea and extra-dark chocolate with very low sugar, in moderation, are fine. Ginger and turmeric are also powerhouses in anti-inflammatory herbs.

An anti-inflammatory diet has also been linked to delayed aging of the brain, and it's a known anti-aging powerhouse.

Ice Packs

Since swelling can remain for days, depending upon how deep the peel is, being prepared and knowing how to treat it will  minimize swelling.

Get a facial ice pack before you get/do the peel.  Make sure it’s something comfortable.  A bag of frozen peas works fine for minor swelling if you don´t mind using that.

Think Ice on, Ice off.  Do NOT keep the ice in place for more than about 5-10 minutes, according to your comfort level. Leave it off for about the same amount of time, then cycle again as you feel it´s necessary.

Do NOT put an ice pack directly on the skin.  Use a thin cloth on the skin between and ice pack if your mask isn’t made of cloth.


Arnica Montana and bromelain, homeopathic herbs, may help shorten recovery time by reducing swelling (and bruising), although the research results are mixed.  You can use these in pill or pellet form, drops, gel or cream, so think about what form may work best for you.  

Some people start taking these herbs before their peels, but check with your doctor if you're having a chemical peel done.


Keep yourself elevated so that fluids won't settle in the affected area while you are sitting or resting. You can use pillows, but they may move during the night.  You may want to consider a wedge pillow, which is also pretty handy for watching TV in bed!

Bed Wedge - Foam Wedge Bed Pillow 12" x 24" 'x 24" w/ white pillow cover by Duro-Med

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