The Lowdown on Chemical Peels & Laser facials

The Lowdown on Chemical Peels & Laser facials
Long-lasting, results-oriented, anti-aging treatments have their price, both in terms of money and healing time. But with baby boomers (and gen-Xers) getting more wrinkly with every passing year, the ever-growing desire to look younger promises to keep the booming ‘youth’ industry, booming.

For those of us who aren’t quite ready to face surgery, really the only remedy for loose or sagging skin, these less scary options will help rejuvenate tired, sallow-looking dermis.

What it is:
A chemical peel is a controlled exfoliation of the skin caused by the application of a caustic chemical that literally peels or melts away the layers of skin. which, to my mind, at least, is like applying paint stripper to one’s face!

Much like microdermabrasion, superficial glycolic-acid peels enhance overall skin texture and refinement. The deeper variety of peels such as those using trichloroacetic acid (TCA), will deliver major changes in wrinkling, scarring, and pigmentation.

The practitioner swabs on a solution that sloughs or burns away the dead cells from the skin’s surface or, depending on its potency, will delve down deeper into the living layers of skin.

Estheticians can perform glycolic-acid peels at a concentration of up to 30%; only a physician or (supervised) nurse can apply more concentrated peels as they can really pack a punch. That said, your physician might suggest using a trichloroacetic acid (TCA), an even more aggressive chemical which, at a concentration of only 20%, can produce dramatic, longer-lasting results in a single treatment over a series of treatments with glycolic acid.

The lesser concentrations involve some slight stinging and are suitable for all skin types, with perhaps only a half-day’s healing time. TCA peels are best on fair complexions (darker skins are more prone to scarring and discoloration) and will have you looking very red for about a week, as if you have severe sunburn.

Either way, you will look remarkably refreshed and rejuvenated.

Other considerations
The deeper the peel, the more likely you are to run the risk of persistent redness, scarring and infection.

Prices for glycolic-acid peels range from $65 to $150 per treatment; many spas will offer a series of treatments at a reduced cost. TCA peels average $1,000

What they are:
Laser resurfacing is among the most effective (and expensive) non-surgical skin rejuvenating procedures out there. In essence, lasers produce high intensity light emissions that vaporize the skin. Physicians tend to use lasers that remove the skin layer by layer; spa practitioners are more likely to use non-blative lasers (ie: non-wounding) such as the NLite, and Cool Touch.

Laser treatments help wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth, shallow scarring, and skin suppleness and elasticity. They are used to eradicate varicose veins.

What to expect:
Although the physics behind each laser is different, they all use heat/light energy to stimulate the body into creating an inflammatory response . This triggers the cells to produce more collagen which, in turn, produces a firmer skin and, therefore, softer lines and scars.

There are pros and cons to various lasers.

The N-Lite and Cool Touch systems deliver a relatively surface treatment that requires no downtime, and no anesthesia during the treatment. They are good for all skin types and colors. Final results are gradual, and usually are at their best after 10 weeks.

The Erbium Laser and CO2 Laser systems deliver a more penetrating treatment with Retin A, glycolic acid and hydroquinone to prevent discoloration and speed up healing time of up to 4 weeks. These lasers require either a topical or more extensive anesthesia which is why they a physician-operated. Final results are seen within one-month of treatment.

Other considerations:
Laser and/or photo facials produce great results but they usually take at least a month to show and in 20% of patients, the extra collagen production doesn’t actually register as an outer skin enhancement.

Treatments can cause redness for a few hours, and if used too aggressively, perhaps even very slight bruising.

Prices for laser facials range from $600 for an N-Lite therapy to $1,200 for an Erbium Laser treatment.

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