Anti-Aging Guide: Chemical Peels and Laser Skin Resurfacing

In the ongoing hunt for a Fountain of Youth for the face, there’s one simple goal: erase any signs of aging. Patients are now turning to non-surgical options to bring back that baby-soft skin they had in their youth.

According to 2011 statistics from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), chemical peels were among the top six procedures most often performed on patients between the ages of 35 and 60, with microdermabrasion one of the top three most common non-surgical cosmetic procedures among women.

Average costs range from $135 for microdermabrasion and $397 for chemical peels to $2,424 for ablative skin resurfacing, according to the AAFPRS report. Insurance generally doesn’t cover cosmetic surgery, but check with your insurance carrier for more information. And no matter what type of procedure you use, be sure to avoid exposure to sunlight and use sun block to protect your new, younger skin.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

During laser skin resurfacing treatments (also known as laser peel, laser vaporization or lasabrasion), the outer layer of skin (epidermis) is removed while the underlying skin (dermis) is heated. This stimulates the growth of new collagen fibers. A laser treatment takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and it is usually done on an outpatient basis.

According to AgingSkinNet, an American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) website, types of laser treatments include:

  • Non-ablative laser rejuvenation – best for early signs of aging
  • Fractional laser rejuvenation – best for diminishing signs of aging such as age spots, wrinkles, and skin discoloration
  • Ablative laser resurfacing – effective for deeper wrinkles and diminishing aging caused by years of unprotected sun exposure

Types of lasers include:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) laser – delivers very short pulsed light energy (called ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams, precisely removing thin layers of skin with minimal damage to your surrounding tissue; recovery time is up to two weeks.
  • Erbium laser – removes superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on your face; recovery time is one full week.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels work by applying a chemical solution which causes the skin’s top layers to peel, revealing newer, firmer layers. When the solution is painted on the face, it removes the epidermis and penetrates into the first layer of the dermis. Depending on the peel, the skin may appear bright pink for a few days after treatment, but the color and post-operative puffiness will ultimately fade. Post-treatment downtime varies depends on the type of peel used.

Peel options include:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) (glycolic, lactic or fruit acid) – the most superficial peels
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel – stronger, with a greater depth of peel
  • Phenol peel – strongest peel, used for deep wrinkles from sun exposure, skin wrinkling around the lips and chin area, pigment problems, and vertical lines, as well as in the treatment of precancerous skin conditions


Microdermabrasion removes fine lines, crow’s feet, age spots and acne scars as it stimulates the production of skin cells and collagen. During the 30-minute to one-hour process, fine crystals polish the surface of the skin, resulting in an overall fresh, healthy-looking glow, said the ASAPS.

Microdermabrasion is effective on all skin colors and types and excellent for skin sensitive to chemical procedures, with no downtime involved. However, it will require multiple sessions and maintenance treatments.

Accessibility Toolbar