Chemical peels and laser resurfacing are two of the most effective categories of skincare solutions for cosmetic concerns. They address most of your skin concerns related to aging, sun damage, environmental pollutants, or acne damage. They use vastly different methodologies to achieve similar goals—improving your skin’s overall smoothness, tightness, and complexion.
This article compares chemical peels and laser resurfacing to help you choose the ideal procedure for your specific needs.
Chemical peels use specific skincare products made of acids, enzymes, fruit acids, and other components to exfoliate the uppermost layers of your skin. They make your damaged skin peel off, revealing the softer, smoother, and flawless skin underneath. The procedure involves massaging the chemical peel formulation into your face or treatment areas.
Laser skin resurfacing involves directing short and concentrated pulses of light energy at the treatment areas. The laser device is gently moved over your face and treatment areas to deliver the bursts of laser energy deep within your skin. The laser energy encourages collagen production deep within the skin and removes the superficial skin concerns, like pigmented spots.
Chemical peels can target a wide range of skin concerns, including age spots, pigmented spots, acne scars, acne breakouts, fine lines, roughness, etc. The chemical peels are specifically chosen to address your particular concerns and improve your overall skin quality. While chemical peels also encourage collagen production, that’s not their primary goal, so their ability to treat skin laxity is a little limited.
Laser resurfacing also addresses a wide range of skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, sagging skin, scarring, age spots, etc. The laser energy also encourages collagen production deep within your skin’s underlying layers, which, over time, makes your skin appear smoother, tighter, and firmer. As such, laser resurfacing is better at treating the signs of aging, such as wrinkles and skin laxity.
Chemical peels come in various intensities. The superficial peels contain mild ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acid, and the deeper peels contain trichloroacetic acid. Stronger peels produce better results but also involve more downtime and side effects.
Laser resurfacing comes in two intensities—ablative lasers and non-ablative lasers. Ablative lasers remove the uppermost layers of the skin, revealing the smoother skin underneath. Non-ablative lasers encourage collagen production to smoothen the skin over time. Some lasers combine both types of laser to provide better results.
Chemical peels are simple—they’re performed in the doctor’s office within 30 to 60 minutes. Depending on the formulation, the peel is removed immediately or has to be removed at home after 6 to 8 hours. You must also use several aftercare products to manage the side effects.
Laser resurfacing is also simple—it’s performed in the doctor’s office within 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the treatment areas. However, laser resurfacing treatments don’t involve much at-home care or aftercare guidelines, making them slightly easier to fit into a packed schedule.
Chemical peels scrub away the uppermost layers of the skin, leading to redness, irritation, and other side effects. The intensity of the side effects depends on the intensity of the chemical peels. Since they contain chemicals, there’s also a slight risk of discoloration, changes in skin tone, or other problems.
Laser resurfacing leads to mild redness, irritation, and swelling around the treatment areas, similar to a bad sunburn. However, there’s no risk of major complications, and the side effects generally fade away in a few days.
Depending on the intensity of the chemical peel, you may need 1 to 7 days of downtime. However, the most superficial and light chemical peels don’t involve any downtime—you can resume your daily activities immediately.
Most laser treatments don’t involve downtime—you can resume your daily activities immediately. However, some of the most intense laser treatments may involve up to 3 days of downtime.
Which is Better?
Chemical peels and laser resurfacing are incredibly effective cosmetic procedures with their unique characteristics. Dr. Rousso will help you choose the ideal procedure for your specific skin concerns, sensitivities, and other factors. Schedule a consultation today!