5 things to know about facial lasers and chemical peels

It used to be that if you wanted the smooth, radiant benefits of a chemical peel, you also had to endure the raw, sunburnt feeling it left behind for weeks. Every visit to the dermatologist was something of a fight-or-flight situation. But that’s all over now. The resurgence of high-tech (read: gentler) face peels and promising new-age lasers has smoothed the journey to good skin. They both sand off dead-skin cells on the surface and make your skin act younger; collagen and hyaluronic acid production is boosted and cell renewal is quicker (or try these budget anti-ageing creams instead). But that’s where the similarity ends—there’s a lot more you need to know in order to pick the right one for you.

How do they work?
Doctors no longer use chemical peels just to slough off skin; now they’re also a way to infuse your face with nourishing ingredients. While peels are topically applied to work on the surface, a laser, which is essentially light and heat, focuses on deeper skin layers. When targeted at a problem area, like a dark spot or an acne scar, the laser vaporises the pigment without harming the tissue on top.

Does one size fit all?
The intensity and type of treatment will vary depending on skin health. Your dermatologist will pick a laser machine that suits your skin’s needs. For example, dermatologist and author Dr Jaishree Sharad suggests Fractional Nd: YAG Laser for uneven tone, wrinkles and visible veins. It’s almost painless, which makes it great for the delicate skin around your eyes, mouth and neck—and it needs only 20 minutes’ recovery time. When it comes to peels, the Obagi Blue peel is a current favourite because it goes a little deeper than traditional peels to treat age spots and hyperpigmentation. There’s also the eight-hour long Cosmelan peel that brightens skin and actually stops pigmentation from increasing.

Which way should I go?
A doctor can recommend a laser or chemical peel after assessing your skin concerns. But as a general rule, a peel works best for tan removal and a quick glow. For deeper concerns like wrinkles, large pores and pigmentation, a laser treatment is usually more advisable. Also remember that while medium-depth peels are pocket-friendly, laser treatments are not. A facial laser treatment generally starts at Rs 30,000. 

Will I require post-treatment care?
Neither lasers nor peels give you instant results, and depending on the depth and strength of your treatment, both require some post-treatment care. That means limited sunshine and lots of sunscreen—even when you’re indoors. Experts also advise you to avoid anti-ageing creams with retinol or alpha hydroxyl acid due to their exfoliating properties. And make sure you moisturise well to improve the healing process, which usually takes around three to five days. Ask your doctor lots of questions about the recovery process before making a commitment.

Can I do both?
Dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia says yes. “This way you can target your concerns at every level and boost collagen for an antiageing benefit.” Her signature treatment, the New York facial, uses a gentle peel followed by laser LED toning to soothe and stimulate skin, which makes your face supple and plump. But like with any other treatment, first schedule a consultation with your doctor to discuss your concerns and treatment.


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