Ever since the earliest recorded history, people have been looking for ways to make themselves appear younger, and in most cases this involves trying to figure out how to eliminate facial wrinkles. Many different facial rejuvenation treatments have been used over the years to minimize the appearance of static and dynamic facial lines, ranging from full facelifts to localized treatments with cosmetic injectables like Botox® or facial fillers. However two distinct procedures have consistently proven to be extremely effective: chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing. Since I regularly perform both of these minimally-invasive cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in my practice, many patients ask me which technique works best. In my opinion, both approaches have different advantages and disadvantages, and so the question of which is “better” is really more about which is more suited to a particular patient’s individual skin care needs.
In truth, both chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing technology work very similarly. The outermost layers of the skin are made up of dead and damaged skin cells that are constantly being shed as newer skin cells are generated to replace them. Both chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing effectively accelerate this process, exfoliating the skin by destroying and removing a large portion of these dead and damaged skin cells at once, encouraging the body’s own natural collagen production while revealing newer, smoother skin underneath. Chemical peels accomplish this with varying concentrations of acid, which can be custom formulated to affect the skin at different depths. Laser skin resurfacing, on the other hand, uses focused light energy to excite the water molecules in the dead skin cells, instantly vaporizing them from the inside. While the specific mechanisms may differ, the final goal, getting rid of old skin and replacing it with refreshed, new skin, remains the same.
In both cases, the results are smoother, younger-looking skin and a noticeable reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. Because damaged layers of outer skin cells are removed, the procedures can also often help eliminate the appearance of sun damage, freckles, skin discoloration, and acne scarring, which have the most noticeable effect on these outermost skin cells. I even frequently use both of these procedures to smooth skin texture after more-invasive cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in order to help minimize the appearance of post-surgical scars, and both require similar amounts of recovery time.
Effectively using chemical peels requires a great deal of experience and surgical skill, as the depth of penetration depends on the type and texture of the skin as well as the strength of the peel and the time it is left on the face. Similarly, laser skin resurfacing technology, like the Sciton® Erbium laser, must also be precisely calibrated to each patient’s specific skin type in order to remove the skin tissue to an exact, pre-determined depth and achieve results that are customized to the intricacies of an individual face. Chemical peels do tend to be less expensive than laser skin resurfacing procedures, but patients with particularly sensitive skin may not be optimal candidates for this procedure. Ultimately, when deciding between the two, one needs to consider the patient’s skin type, condition, goals, lifestyle, and budget in order to get the best possible results. During our consultation, I will work with you to determine your specific requirements so that we can find the technique that will be best for you.
If you are interested in learning more about how any of the facial plastic surgery procedures that I perform may be able to help you, please contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein. Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. provides a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.