Chemical Peel vs. Laser Treatment: What's Best For Your Skin?

The AEdit.com gives us the low down on these popular skin resurfacing procedures.

Acne scars. Wrinkles. Dark spots. Any of these names ring a bell? Unfortunately, they happen, and when they do, we find ourselves in panic mode. From skincare products that claim to cure age spots to endless online searches, we have hunted everywhere hoping to eventually find that “magic” treatment to erase skin textural irregularities and beyond. Luckily, there are solutions out there. Enter chemical peels and laser treatments, two skin resurfacing procedures that remove damaged regions to encourage skin regeneration. The end product? Smoother, revitalized skin. Combatting your problem areas has never been easier, but it can be overwhelming if you are new to the world of skin resurfacing. We consulted with New York dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah, MD of SmarterSkin Dermatology, to get the latest on everything you need to know about chemical peels, laser resurfacing treatments, and how it affects the skin.

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What is the difference?

Chemical peels and laser treatments are skin resurfacing procedures that remove old skin to promote new skin growth. Both treatments are commonly used to minimize acne scars and hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and correct sun damage issues such as age spots.

Foremost, what differentiates chemical peels and laser treatments is the procedure itself. As the name already implies, one utilizes chemical solutions to remove skin and the other uses lasers.

Chemical peels use acid solutions of varying strengths to treat the outer layer of skin. There are three types of peels: superficial, medium, and deep peels. Superficial chemical peels(e.g. VI Peel® and lactic acid peels) are gentle and utilize mild acids to lightly exfoliate the skin. Medium chemical peels (e.g. glycolic acid peels and TCA peels) are more intrusive and penetrate the middle and outer layer of skin. Deep chemical peels(e.g. phenol acid peels) are the strongest, using powerful acids to not only penetrate the skin, but remove damaged skin cells.

Laser resurfacing treatments use beams of light to penetrate the skin, removing one layer at a time. The laser method allows for a more precise removal process, but is generally more expensive than chemical peels, according to 2017 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. There are two types of lasers: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative lasers (e.g. CO2 and erbium) are more intense but provide the best results by vaporizing the skin. Non-ablative lasers (e.g. Fraxel) are less intrusive to the skin and heat the skin instead without destroying it. Keep in mind that because non-ablative lasers are not as powerful as ablative lasers, multiple sessions may be required for best results.

However, Dr. Shah notes that although chemical peels and laser treatments are different, there is some overlap in the benefits they offer and the issues they correct. "For example, a strong TCA (trichloroacetic acid) chemical peel can provide a resurfacing similar to a resurfacing laser, or both peels and lasers can be used to improve acne and acne scars,” she explains.

The two procedures also differ depending on skin tone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people with a darker skin tone benefit the most from chemical peels, as peels are an effective treatment against hyperpigmentation. Dark skin tones are often prone to hyperpigmentation issues such as PIH (postinflammatory hyperpigmentation) because of an increased amount of melanin in their skin. Chemical peels use acid solutions to stimulate collagen production and contain antioxidants that better penetrate darker skin and treat pigmentation.

What are the popular types of chemical peels?

  • VI Peel® (superficial grade):The VI Peel® is a gentle, relatively painless peel that is effective on all skin types and skin tones. Made from a blend of trichloroacetic acid, Retin-A, salicylic acid, phenol, and vitamin C. It is often used to treat hyperpigmentation and reverse sun damage.

  • Lactic peel (superficial grade):A lactic peel is derived from milk and works best on dry and sensitive skin. It helps balance skin pH and gently exfoliates by dissolving dead skin cells.

  • Glycolic peel (medium grade):A glycolic peel is made out of glycolic acid that promotes the production of new collagen and elastin by targeting the skin’s outer layer. It is often used to treat acne/acne scars and tighten pores.

  • TCA peel (medium grade):A TCA peel uses trichloroacetic acid and is more aggressive than the glycolic peel. It is often used to correct skin pigment issues and soften wrinkles.

  • Phenol peel (deep grade):A phenol peel powerfully penetrates the skin to treat severe wrinkle and discoloration issues. It often requires a lengthy recovery time and may feel uncomfortable compared to milder peels.

What are the popular types of laser treatments?

  • Fraxel Laser Treatment (non-ablative): The Fraxel Laser Treatment uses FDA approved fractional laser technology to rejuvenate skin. This type of laser works best on mild to moderate acne scars and fine wrinkles.

  • CO2/Carbon Dioxide Laser Treatment (ablative):The CO2 Laser Treatment uses pixelated carbon dioxide lasers to treat more extreme skin issues such as deep wrinkles and severe acne scars. This type of laser is generally not good for treating skin redness.

  • Erbium Laser Treatment (ablative):The Erbium Laser Treatment is a more mild and less intrusive laser treatment than the CO2 Laser. The laser penetrates the epidermis (the outer skin layer) and also stimulates the production of collagen. It is often used to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.

Which treatment is best for my skin?

Long story short: It all depends on your skin type and concerns. “It can be difficult to determine the best course of action, so it is always important to consult with a board certified dermatologist to discuss your concerns and treatment options,” Dr. Shah advises.

If you have a darker skin tone, Dr. Shah warns that not all chemical peels and laser treatments are suitable for darker skin tones. Unsure of your situation? When in doubt, always consult a dermatologist.

What’s better for acne scars — chemical peel or laser treatment?

For hyperpigmentation, Dr. Shah recommends chemicals peels. For textural changes, such as atrophic or indented scars, Dr. Shah finds laser skin treatments more beneficial.“However, a TCA chemical peel can also improve these acne scars,” she explains. “Often, combination approaches are needed, combining laser, peels, subcision and/or fillers.”

What should I expect when getting a chemical peel/laser treatment for the first time?

“With chemical peels, expect redness and peeling afterwards depending on the type of peel. Not all peels produce visible peeling,” Dr. Shah says. “The post-laser skin side effects depend on the laser, but include redness, peeling, swelling, and bruising.”If you use topical treatments, Dr. Shah notes that your doctor may advise you to stop applying them a few days prior. Depending on the peel and laser, it may be recommended that you stop retinoids, hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide or other harsh, drying and potentially irritating ingredients. Patients with a history of cold sores may also be prescribed antiviral drugs for prophylaxis.

Am I a good candidate for chemical peels/laser treatments?

Dr. Shah advises against chemical peels and laser treatments if you:

  • Have active infections in the areas you want treated

  • Will be under sun exposure after the treatment

  • Have a history of keloids or hypertrophic scars

  • Do not allow an appropriate amount of recovery time post-treatment

  • Have darker skin tones (applies to certain types of chemical peels and laser resurfacing treatments)

Whether you choose a chemical peel or laser treatment, there is a resurfacing skin solution for you out there!

By Kelsey Nguyen

For more information about Dr Shah or to learn more about the above treatments please visit www.smarterskindermatology.com

Review: Plasma Shower Facial

A few weeks ago I visited the Skinfinity skin clinic in Leeds to undergo a Plasma shower facial treatment. Personally I think the name itself sounds intriguing and having had laser treatments in the past I was curious to speak to the consultant about what the treatment actually entails and ultimately see the results. The facial is non invasive which is a huge plus for me as I’m a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to needles and surgery (not that I judge anyone else who opts for more intense methods of skin rejuvenation, I’m very much each to their own!) and also has limited downtime, again another huge bonus if you don’t have the option of taking time off whilst you recover.

Skinfinity Clinic

Skinfinity Clinic

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When I arrived at Skinfinity, which is a lovely clinic with a very relaxed environment, I was introduced to Dr Gareth O Hare who spoke with me at length about the treatment itself and the equipment used to carry it out. The plasma facial is given using a Plasma BT device which can be used for a variety of skin procedures. Dr O Hare though mainly uses it for reducing excess skin on eyelids, reducing eye bags, and softening permanent creases/wrinkles in the skin. It can also be used for removing small benign moles or skin tags. The plasma device fires a type of energy into the skin, causing it to tighten. 

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The Plasma BT device is an alternative to surgical removal of excess skin on the eyelids, known as blepharoplasty. With the plasma device, there are no cuts, stitches or scars. After just 3 sessions, 6 weeks apart, excess eyelid skin is significantly reduced. Wrinkles can also be treated around the eyes (crow's feet), cheeks, forehead, and around the mouth. The skin is usually slightly red, with small brown dots where the plasma energy has touched the skin. These side effects usually settle after 4-7 days. 

For the Plasma shower facial itself Dr Hare places a serum on the skin before using the Plasma BT device to fire tiny shots of energy across the targeted areas of the face. This feels like a very light sunburn and only lasts a minute or so. It is a gentle, non-invasive skin treatment that can be used to help with a variety of skin issues, including acne, excess pigmentation, and dryness. It works by opening up the tiny channels in between your skin cells, allowing any products placed on the skin afterwards to be absorbed more deeply. The clinic uses the Tebiskin range to enhance the treatment and four of the products were used on me.

Gluage serum: Boosts production of hyaluronic acid, makes the skin more hydrated and smooth

SOD-C serum: a combination of several different anti-oxidants, helps even out skin tone and repair damage from sun exposure/pollution etc.

HYAL cream: a concentrated hyaluronic acid moisturising cream. It works by attracting more water into your skin cells, leaving it softer and smoother.

UV-Sooth: a factor 50+ moisturiser with hyaluronic acid and an anti-oxidant. This is Dr O Hares favourite product in the Tebiskin range and comes highly recommended by him.

I found the treatment to be extremely quick in comparison to other treatments I’ve had with a wealth of benefits. Although not something I would consider as a long term method of managing skin ageing it’s definitely a great treatment for instant rejuvenation! Practically painless with very little downtime and almost instant results the Plasma facial is a fabulous facial for a big event such as a wedding, red carpet, graduation etc or as a special treat when you’re feeling tired and rundown. Wether you’re looking for a festive glow for the Christmas party season or to reboot in the New Year I can highly recommend this treatment at Skinfinity.

For more information please visit www.skinfityclinic.co.uk

Vichy's Mineral 89

Vichy’s Mineral 89 is here and has officially launched on Lookfantastic.com! It’s one of Vichy’s most exciting releases this year.

 

Vichy Mineral 89 combines the power of Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water + Hyaluronic Acid to strengthen the skin’s barrier function whilst protecting it from pollution. Formulated with 89% Mineralizing Thermal Water and just 11 other ingredients, Mineral 89 is a new ‘Step 0’ in your daily routine: plumping, protecting and preparing skin from within for the next steps in your skincare regime.  Suitable for the most sensitive skin, the light and fast absorbing formula drenches skin with freshness before disappearing instantly, getting to work to stimulate antioxidant defences and reinforcing skin’s integrity by stimulating regeneration and improving its barrier function.

Skin is the interface between our body and the external world: it acts as a protective shield against daily aggressors, such as pollution. Keeping it healthy and strong is essential. A more resilient skin means a smooth protective surface and a plump structured mattress below.

Powered by in depth expertise called the EXPOSOME, Vichy developed a breakthrough formula: Mineral 89. Your new essential 1st step of your skincare routine to strengthen your skin from within, protecting it from pollution, preparing it for the next steps of the routine and plumping it with health drop after drop. 

IN-DEPTH EXPERTISE GAINED FROM THE EXPOSOME

The Exposome is a scientific concept that emerged in 2005; a holistic approach and new way of understanding health and the skin.Research revealed 80% of ageing is due to the Exposome with environmental agressors such as pollution as well as UV rays and internal agressors such as stress and fatigue all impacting the barrier function. Based on this knowledge Vichy developed a new daily booster, Mineral 89 to reinforce skin barrier function whilst plumping and priming the skin. 

A FEAT OF FORMULATION FINALLY ACHIEVED!

With Mineral 89, Vichy Laboratories took on its greatest ever challenge: formulating a skincare product based on 89% Mineralizing Water.

Vichy Mineralizing Water is a very active, potent ingredient thus very unstable to formulate. Until now Vichy laboratories were only able to reach a 20% concentration, but with Mineral 89 Vichy managed to achieve a concentration at 89%.

When combined with Hyaluronic Acid, an incredibly hydrating ingredient which also strengthens the skin’s barrier function, Vichy discovered the two ingredients have a complementary action to protect the skin’s integrity.

THE POWER OF VICHY MINERALIZING WATER

Drawn from the depths of the French volcanoes, Vichy Mineralizing Water is:
• Rich in 15 essential minerals, strengthening the skin’s natural defence
• Backed by 16 scientific studies
• Proven to stimulate antioxidant defences and reinforce skins integrity

specifically by stimulating regeneration and improving its barrier function

A CLEAN & MINIMALIST FORMULA

The light and fast absorbing formula drenches skin with freshness before disappearing instantly. This sensorial blend has been created with a very pure formula, made of 11 ingredients only: clean and safe, it has been tested on the most sensitive skin and contains no fragrance or colourants. 

HOW TO USE?

Think of Mineral 89 as your step 0 in the routine, used daily post cleansing. Apply 1-2 pumps to face and lips followed by subsequent serums, moisturisers or SPF.