Lasers and Skin Peels

Skin Resurfacing

Many nonsurgical procedures designed to improve facial appearance are based on “resurfacing” the skin. Resurfacing improved facial texture by smoothing fine wrinkles and imperfections, and improves skin pigment by reducing age spots and other color variations. 

Two of the most common forms of skin resurfacing include skin peels and lasers. These are discussed in more detail below. 

Skin Peels

Skin resurfacing may be accomplished by chemical peels. Like other techniques of resurfacing, different layers of skin may be targeted (depending on the chemical used and amount of time applied). The deeper the skin layer affected, the more effective the peel will be at resurfacing. “Peel” refers to the surface layer of skin sloughing off. This typically occurs a few days after the peel, revealing the rejuvenated skin below (this also occurs after laser treatment). 

An example of a “light” peel is a salicylic acid peel. Salicylic acid is similar to aspirin, and does not penetrate very deep into skin. 

Trichloroacetic acid is a typical “medium” peel that reaches the dermis layer of the skin. This type of peel allows an effective result while maintaining safety. 

A common “deep” peel is phenol. This chemical allows a very effective treatment, but must be monitored closely to make sure it is neutralized at the right level.  

Lasers

“LASER” stands for Light Amplification by Stimulation of Emitted Radiation. Lasers concentrate light by making it “coherent.” This allows many different effects based on the “target” of the laser (water, hemoglobin, etc.) and the energy settings of the laser. Medical lasers have many uses (in fact, lasers were used for medical purposes within just one year of their invention). However, this discussion will focus on laser skin resurfacing. 

Like peels, different lasers may act on different layers of skin to produce different effects.