Chemical peels vs. laser skin resurfacing

Chemical Peels vs. Laser Skin Resurfacing: What’s the Difference?

Posted on November 1, 2019 by Ella Fedonenko

There are more cosmetic treatments to choose from than ever before, especially when considering how best to treat skin surface problems. It can be bewildering trying to decide which treatment to use.

Engineers love to quote an age-old maxim that might be appropriate here: fast, cheap, or good? Pick two.

Chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing are two of the most popular procedures used to address surface skin problems. It’s quite likely that multiple treatments will be necessary regardless of which method you choose.

What Are Chemical Skin Peels?

Chemical skin peels work by carefully applying controlled amounts of acidic chemicals to the skin, resulting in the outer layers of the skin eventually peeling off. 

This dramatically accelerates the natural exfoliation process that normally replaces skin cells to quickly reveals smoother, more youthful, and less wrinkled skin cells underneath. Weaker chemical peels may give more rapid results, but may also need to be repeated more frequently than laser skin resurfacing treatments.

What is Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing uses focused energy from a laser to heat and erode the outer layers of the skin, resulting in a rapid contraction and tightening of the skin’s surface, as well as stimulating collagen production within the skin. This treatment results in longer-term continuing improvement to skin tone and elasticity. Laser procedures typically take more time for their results to become fully apparent but can last for several years.

How to Choose the Right Treatment for Your Skin

There are situations in which one treatment may be more effective, while both are equally effective in other circumstances. Both chemical peels and laser resurfacing may be used at different concentrations or strengths according to the severity of the problem being addressed. 

Below, we’ll compare both treatments for several of the most common skin issues, and point out which treatment may be the most appropriate.

Fine Lines and Rough Skin

Chemical peels are ideally suited to these types of problems, which allow the use of weaker grades of acidic solutions, with shorter resulting recovery times. Laser skin resurfacing can be very effective when treating fine lines and when you have skin pigmentation issues or spots to address.

Deep Wrinkles or Sagging Skin

Chemical peels are less suited for loose or sagging skin concerns. Laser skin resurfacing is usually the preferred treatment option. Using chemical peels for these problem types typically requires the use of stronger acidic chemical solutions, with correspondingly longer recovery times.

Rough Skin Texture

The skin resurfacing laser’s ability to tighten the skin can lead to a more effective treatment when skin needs both smoothing and tightening. A chemical peel may be just as effective when you just want to smooth the top surface of the skin.

Sun Damage

While both laser skin resurfacing and chemical peels are used to treat sun damage – this may be a situation where a mild chemical peel is the easiest way to repair mild damage. Having skin that’s extra sensitive to light may also be an argument for avoiding laser treatments.

Pigmentation Spots

Choosing which treatment will depend on the severity of the problems you’re trying to address, your skin type and complexion, and any sensitivities you may have to either procedure. 

Scarring, Including Acne Scars

Here too, either chemical peels or laser resurfacing may be the appropriate treatment option. We recommend getting professional advice on which to use in your particular case.

Other Considerations When Comparing Chemical Peels and Laser Resurfacing

Cost

Chemical peels procedures are typically lower cost than laser resurfacing, but this may be compensated by the greater number of treatments required and the possibility of increased recovery time after each treatment. 

Treatment Potency

There are several different strengths of chemical peels available to address the severity of the skin issue. Depending on the experience and equipment available to your practitioner, it may be possible to tune the strength of the laser energy to address multiple types of skin problems during a single session.

Skin Sensitivity and Recovery

Some people may be more sensitive to one treatment method versus the other, or to some of the different chemicals used in the various levels of chemical peels. Recovery times also vary widely, depending on the treatment type and the severity of the problems being addressed. 

Schedule a Consultation

We’d strongly suggest getting professional advice from a medically trained practitioner who can advise you on the most appropriate and cost-effective treatment for your particular cosmetic concerns. 

Contact Your Laser Skin Care at (310) 525-1516 to schedule a free consultation. We can answer any questions you have about either of these two procedures and will work with you to achieve the results you want.