Dermatology, Cosmetic Surgery, Mohs Micrographic Skin Cancer Surgery & Laser Surgery

Chemical Peel vs. Laser Skin Resurfacing

woman's faceChemical peels and laser skin resurfacing treatments both provide a refreshed appearance to the skin. They reduce fine lines, minimize scarring, and correct skin discoloration from sun damage. One treatment with either method can significantly improve skin texture and tone. Obviously, the main difference between the two is the technique, but there are a couple of other differences to consider before choosing the one that’s right for you.

Treatment Process

Laser Skin Resurfacing

For laser skin resurfacing, Dr. Lee uses the “Mixto SX” Microfractional CO2 laser, which is one of the most advanced lasers available. The laser ablates the dermis to cause immediate contraction and skin tightening that will later encourage new collagen production. Over the next 6 to 12 weeks, the skin will continue to improve. Treatment takes 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the area. Recovery time is about 5 days indoors, after which you can apply makeup to cover any remaining redness.

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel uses varying strengths of acid to remove the damaged layers of the skin. Our esthetician, Jackie Vandenlangenberg, performs three types of peels – light, moderate, and deep – that will all reveal the healthier skin beneath.
    •    The Beta-Lift Chemical Peel is a light chemical peel that will treat acne and improve skin pigmentation. Consistent treatments are needed to maintain and improve the results.
    •    The Vitalize Chemical Peel is a moderate chemical peel that is often used to improve skin discoloration and fine lines. Subsequent treatments will improve results.
    •    Finally, the Jessner Chemical Peel is the deepest chemical peel that we offers. It provides dramatic results by improving or eliminating sun damage, fine lines, wrinkles, acne, acne scarring, dark spots, and melasma.

Treatment takes about an hour, and recovery time will vary depending on the strength of your peel. Heavier peels will require several days out of the sun, while a light peel often requires no downtime.

Main differences:


The cost for chemical peels ranges from $80 to $160 per treatment, depending on the strength of treatment. The cost of laser skin resurfacing runs $1,5000 to $3,000 for treatment of the whole face.

Treatment Flexibility

Laser skin resurfacing is more advantageous than chemical peels when it comes to treatment flexibility. With the laser, Dr. Lee can ablate skin to a specific depth in one area and to a different depth in another area. The “fractional” part of its name means that the laser beam divides the treatment area into quadrants, or “fractions,” to allow the tissue to cool. This results in less pain during treatment and a quicker recovery than other types of laser treatments. During any type of chemical peel, different strengths of acid are not usually combined for different areas of the face, and the depth of the peel cannot be adjusted during treatment.

Treats Acne

Moderate and deep chemical peels will treat acne, but laser skin resurfacing will not. In fact, patients with active acne are not the best candidates for laser skin resurfacing. Those who are prone to cold sores will have to ask their doctor for an antivirus prescription before they undergo laser skin resurfacing.


Patients who experience laser skin resurfacing or a deep chemical peel will get the most dramatic results and are typically very pleased with the outcome. Laser skin resurfacing has the added advantage of continual improvement for the next couple of months due to stimulated collagen production from the laser. Light and medium chemical peels also provide fantastic results but may require subsequent treatments to maintain or completely rid the skin of certain imperfections.

If you are ready to rejuvenate your skin in the Upland area, please contact board certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee. During your consultation, she will recommend the treatment option that can give you the smooth, younger-looking skin you desire. Call (909) 981-8929 today, or fill out our online contact form for more information.

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