Chemical Peels vs. Fraxel Laser: Dr. Finger’s Thoughts

What do chemical peels do? There are three categories of peels, based on the peel depth and strength. The first is a simple, superficial peel which refreshes the face, and there is no recovery time needed. This would be like a microdermabrasion or glycolic peel, usually performed by an aesthetician. Next is a stronger, deeper peel which reduces or removes pigmented, some types of age spots and fine wrinkles. Some recovery is required, according to the depth of the peel. This is usually a TCA (trichloracetic acid) peel or a blue peel (TCA with a blue dye). These can be taken quite deeply, and with more depth comes more risk and less wrinkles. This should be done by a physician. The third type of peel is the deep peel which is much more effective for deep wrinkles, even those around the mouth, as well as pigmentation spots. The down-side is the recovery time, which is 2-3 weeks. The peel is a combination of Croton oil and phenol. The risk is depigmentation or hyper-pigmentation (too much pigmentation).

Years ago, I performed many of these phenol peels and never had a complication, but today, we use the Fraxel lasers to achieve the same results, although the deeper wrinkles may be eliminated even better with the deep peels. One thing to remember is that the risk of pigmentation problems and even scarring goes up when the goal is to remove both deeper wrinkles and pigmentation spots. Safety is the first concern, so your physician’s experience is paramount. Excellent results can be achieved with minimal risk and recovery time.