Skincare: Are Chemical Peels Better Than Laser Treatments?

Posted March 30, 2017 by in Beauty

Which is better, a chemical peel or a laser treatment? That’s a question that has a different answer depending on who you talk to, and there are some very good reasons for that. Here’s how they compare and contrast:

Both Lasers and Chemical Peels Have Many Subcategories

The first thing you need to know is that choosing between lasers and chemical peels is not as simple as just picking one or the other. There are lots of subcategories of laser treatments, just as there are many chemical peel variations.

For instance, chemical peels called phenol peels are often used for more severe cases, while glycolic acid peels are sometimes used to treat minor skin damage. The situation is similar with lasers in that laser skincare tools come in many forms. Some of them include CO2, YAG, Fractional, and Erbium.

Some chemical peels and laser treatments are only meant to take care of surface damage. Others can actually treat multiple layers of skin at once. Typically, those who are older or have done things like smoke throughout their lives have deeper wrinkles and blemishes and require more invasive treatments. Those who are relatively healthy may be able to schedule a more mild procedure of either type.

If you’re a non-smoker and you’re under 35, getting a glycolic peel is most likely your best bet. Glycolic helps treat fine lines and sun spots.

Laser and Chemical Peel Healing Times and Side Effects

If you think that you can choose between chemical peels and laser treatments based on how much recovery time you’ll need or what side effects you may have to deal with, think again. Both of those things will depend on the exact procedure that you have. Some of the less invasive chemical peels only take a few minutes and have no major recovery time or side effects. While laser treatments typically aren’t quite that quick, they can also be low on side effects and recovery times, especially if you have what is known as a non-ablative treatment.

On the other hand, more invasive chemical peels and laser treatments are both capable of producing both short-term and longer-term side effects that you may have to deal with. The more mild side effects might be nothing more than redness in the treatment area for a day or so. But in worst case scenarios both chemical peels and laser treatments are capable of causing burns or blisters.

You also should know that most chemical peels and laser treatments make your skin more sensitive in the sun. Due to this, you should aim to have treatments in the winter, and sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! 

Determining Eligibility for Chemical Peels or Laser Procedures

If you have especially sensitive skin then you may want to avoid both chemical peels and laser treatments. There are also some scenarios where one procedure or the other is better for those with specific skin types and situations. The best way to know which treatment you are actually eligible for is to consult with a licensed esthetician or dermatologist.

Of course, being eligible for a certain procedure doesn’t automatically mean that you should have it done. There are a lot of other factors that should go into your choice, not the least of which is the immediate expense. Some laser procedures are cheaper than chemical peels and others are not. You will have to decide if the procedure that the esthetician recommends fits into your budget or not.

You may also want to think about the fact that you may need more chemical peels or laser procedures in the future when you are making that decision. For example, glycolic peels (the go-to for newbies) require about six sessions before results are noticed.

Have you ever received a chemical peel or laser treatment? Let us know in the comments below!

*This article was contributed.