Certain superficial skin concerns can be the bane of our existence. Issues such as dark spots, acne scars, and enlarged pores can be difficult to treat with your average at-home mud masks or over-the-counter skin creams. Fortunately, there are plenty of aesthetic options that can help you renew the appearance of your skin. At Allure Enhancement Center in Lafayette, LA we know that both laser peels and chemical peels can be incredibly helpful for perfecting your skin.
While the concept of a chemical peel may be familiar to you, you may not have heard about a laser peel. At our clinic, our preferred energy-based peel is the Micro Laser Peel (MLP), the newest type of laser skin resurfacing treatment. Unlike traditional laser treatments, the MLP focuses primarily on the topmost layers of skin, just like a chemical peel. But although both of these peel treatments can accomplish similar goals, there are plenty of differences that set them apart.
What Is the Difference Between a Laser Peel and a Chemical Peel?
The primary goal of any peel treatment is to exfoliate the surface layer of skin cells to reveal new, smooth, and unblemished skin underneath. Peels are generally considered exfoliating treatments, but they are more effective than manual exfoliation, such as at-home scrubs. Peels also tend to be more effective than treatments like microdermabrasion, which is ideal for dry skin and dullness.
When it comes to the differences between these peel treatments, there are plenty of factors you will want to consider before selecting the peel that is right for your skin concerns, skin type, and the kind of results you want to see. Some of these differences include:
The number one difference between these peels is the way the treatments are performed. With a chemical peel, an acidic solution will be applied to your skin for several minutes so the acid can essentially dissolve the skin cells on the surface of your skin. A chemical feel is generally considered a facial and can be completed within as little as 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the depth of the peel.
An energy-based peel like the MLP, on the other hand, resembles many other laser treatments. A laser device will be moved over the surface of your skin while the microlaser energy sloughs off dead skin cells. This treatment will generally take under an hour to complete for most people.
Each of these peels can be customized by different levels of intensity. Customizing your peel level ensures that you will get the results you are looking for. For a chemical peel, the peel depths include light, medium, and deep; a light peel is the most common for most superficial skin concerns, while a medium peel can generally accomplish the same as a laser treatment.
For the MLP treatment, the intensity level of the microlaser is determined by microns, on the length of the laser light being used. A single micron is invisible to the naked eye, which means that the microlaser treatment can spread evenly over your skin to address individual skin cells. For this treatment, patients will be able to choose between 20, 30, and 40 microns for the peel depending on what skin issues need to be addressed.
Perhaps the biggest difference between these peel treatments is what can be accomplished with each peel. While both peels can address superficial skin concerns, the depth and severity of those superficial concerns are very different for each treatment. For example, light and medium chemical peels can smooth fine lines and wrinkles, correct sun damage, reduce acne scarring, resurface the skin, and even out the skin tone.
The goals of MLP treatment, on the other hand, are a little more advanced. This treatment can address superficial concerns like sun damage, dark spots, melasma, and scarring, but it’s most effective at reducing visible signs of aging. The energy used for this treatment can effectively stimulate collagen production within the skin, which can correct even deeper wrinkles and tough textural issues, such as enlarged pores.
Another difference between these peels is how quickly you will be able to see the results of your treatment. In general, peel treatments will require a few days or weeks to produce ideal results based on the depth of the treatment. This is because it takes time for dead skin cells to slough off and because your natural skin cell turnover cycle will determine how quickly your skin can make new, unblemished skin cells.
For your average light chemical peel, you can expect to see results within two to four days, while a medium peel may take about 10 days to start showing results. For MLP treatment, patients can expect to see the first visible results of this treatment within about four to seven days, depending on the intensity of the microns used.
One huge difference between these peel treatments is the longevity of the results. Chemical peels are temporary treatments that will fade as new skin cells are exposed to the environment and as temporary collagen production fades. The results of a light chemical peel will typically only last four to six weeks, while a medium peel can last for as long as four to six months.
MLP results are known to last for much longer. In fact, in as little as one treatment, you can expect the results of an MLP to last for six to 12 months. Patience may be able to enjoy even longer results based on the initial treatment frequency, as well as the condition of their skin and how well their skin produces collagen.
In general, the frequency of your peel treatment will be determined by your baseline skin cell turnover rate, which has a cycle between 28 and 40 days. For a chemical peel, the depth of your peel will factor into how frequently you should have the treatment, with most patients having light peels once a month, medium peels a few times a year, and deep peels every couple of years.
An energy-based peel, on the other hand, has a treatment frequency that can be played by ear. Because the results of an MLP will last longer than a chemical peel, how soon you will need your next treatment will depend on how long your results last. If you want to enjoy longer-lasting results, you may be able to have about three to five initial treatments spaced about six weeks apart. Please discuss this possibility during your consultation.
Finally, the cost of these treatments is very different. Because chemical peels only use acids to resurface the skin, they are a bit more affordable than energy-based peels. A light chemical peel usually costs about $150, for example, while a 20-micron peel will cost about $350. However, because the results of an MLP will last longer, the treatment can actually save you money and time and may make more sense as an investment if you have moderate to severe skin concerns.
How Are These Peels Similar?
While there are several differences between chemical peels and laser peels, there are also a few similarities. For example, each of these peels has a treatment method that is comfortable to the patient since each treatment uses a topical numbing cream before the peel treatment is applied. Each of these peels can also accomplish many of the same aesthetic goals. Some other similarities include:
To prepare your skin for either peel, you will need to avoid direct sunlight for at least one to two weeks before your treatment. It’s also recommended that you temporarily discontinue the use of retinoids and other chemical exfoliants two weeks before your treatment. Patients should arrive at their appointment with clean skin free of lotion, make-up, and other products, as well.
After these peel treatments, you will also need to take care of your skin well so you can get the best results. One of the most important things you will need to do is avoid exposing your skin to any skin-darkening factors for at least two weeks, including direct sunlight, tanning beds, and self-tanning products.
You should also avoid using hot water, steam, or rough washcloths after your treatment. You will need to keep your skin moist after a peel and be sure to wear SPF 40 or higher during the daytime, even if you’re going to be inside most of the day.
Maintaining the results of these treatments is also similar. Your top priority for maintaining your results is limiting unprotected sun exposure. Sunlight is thought to cause about 80 to 90% of all skin concerns, including fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and sun damage. By regularly wearing SPF, you can prevent sun exposure that may damage your skin and cause your results to degrade.
Chemical vs Laser: Which Peel Treatment Is Best for You?
Choosing the right peel treatment for you will ultimately come down to a few factors. For example, your skin tone and type may determine which treatment is safest for your skin. Patients who have medium to dark complexions may not be able to use certain energy-based treatments, while patients who have easily sunburned fair skin may also not use certain laser intensities.
The goals you want to accomplish with this treatment will also be important. For example, if you only want to correct superficial skin concerns like dullness, dryness, fine lines, and minor pigment concerns, a chemical peel may be a better option. If you also have deeper wrinkles or skin laxity, laser treatment may be ideal.
Will You Need a Consultation?
Yes, you will need a consultation before your treatment. The consultation will help us determine which of these peel treatments is ideal for your skin concerns and your skin type. We may discuss your general medical history and other cosmetic treatments you have tried, including at-home products, during your consultation.
Who Are Good Candidates?
Most patients are good candidates for these peel treatments since the intensity of each peel can be customized to your skin type, tone, and concern. You are likely a good candidate for this treatment if you want to correct superficial concerns such as:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Dark spots
- Dry or rough skin
- Acne scars or other scars
- Enlarged pores
- Sun damage
Renew Your Skin With Laser Peels and Chemical Peels
The key to renewing and perfecting your skin is getting rid of the damaged skin cells that are keeping your complexion dull and uneven. Both chemical and laser peels are good options for most people who have mild to moderate superficial concerns. Please contact Allure Enhancement Center in Lafayette, LA to schedule your consultation today.