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Laser Resurfacing vs Chemical Peel: Which Treatment Should You Get?

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the benefits of a CO2 laser for acne scars or the benefits of a clinical facial treatment. But when you’re looking in the mirror, wondering if laser resurfacing vs a chemical peel is going to do the trick, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for!

At Phases Skin Care and Laser Center, we pride ourselves in developing customized skincare treatment plans that deliver beautiful results for our patients. Whatever amount of change you’re hoping to see, we offer skin resurfacing treatments in Indianapolis that will leave you glowing and refreshed.

What’s the difference? Laser resurfacing vs chemical peel

Level of intensity

Laser resurfacing and chemical peels have different levels of intensity. Laser resurfacing treatments, particularly deep laser resurfacing, can provide much deeper-reaching results than a chemical peel. Not everyone needs that level of intensity, however. So it’s important to consider your desired results when choosing a treatment.


When it comes to financial costs as well as time invested, chemical peels cost less than laser resurfacing per treatment. However, results from laser treatments can last much longer, so you also need to consider cost over time. 

Recovery time

When choosing which treatment will fit into your lifestyle, recovery is an important aspect to consider. In general, laser treatment recovery is going to be longer than the downtime from a chemical peel. Though this is not always the case, because both treatment types come in a wide variety of intensities. 

How the treatment works: laser resurfacing vs chemical peel

Both laser resurfacing and chemical peels provide deep exfoliation for your skin. The main difference between how the two treatments work is the level of intensity.

What is skin resurfacing?

Our skin is made of layers and the body is constantly replenishing those layers. Skin resurfacing treatments remove the outermost layers of skin to reveal smoother skin underneath. Essentially, they speed up the natural exfoliation process. 

These resurfacing treatments also stimulate your body’s production of collagen and elastin, which both contribute to giving your skin its structure. 

As our skin ages, the natural production of collagen and elastin slows down. This leads to wrinkles, loss of volume, and easier scarring. By encouraging your body’s natural production of these proteins, skin resurfacing improves your skin’s appearance and health.

What does skin resurfacing treat?

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Acne and acne scars
  • Uneven pigmentation
  • Rough skin texture
  • Sun damage

How chemical peels work

Chemical peels are a really popular skin service that help improve your skin’s appearance. They’re a quick procedure and, depending on the depth of the peel, require very little downtime.

During a chemical peel one of our aestheticians will apply a medical-grade chemical solution to your skin and allow it to sit while it works. Deeper peels will need to stay on your skin longer. Our skincare specialists can customize your chemical peel treatment based on your skin type and needs.

The chemicals raise the pH level of your skin to loosen dead skin cells and exfoliate them away. After the designated time, your provider will wash the solution off your skin and provide aftercare instructions for your recovery.

Benefits of chemical peel

  • Works for every skin tone
  • Can be more cost effective
  • Usually requires less recovery time

What is recovery like after a chemical peel?

Recovery after a chemical peel depends on the depth of the peel. Immediately after your chemical peel you may experience some redness. During the first couple of days your skin might be dry and flaky, similar to what happens after a sunburn. 

Your aesthetician will provide specific instructions for you individually, but generally gentle cleansing and avoiding the sun are your two best tips for a speedy recovery. 

How laser resurfacing works

Laser resurfacing, much like chemical peels, can be tailored to your specific skin concerns. Different lasers can reach different levels in the layers of your skin, allowing us to treat a variety of skin concerns.

Certain lasers can reach even the deep layers of your skin that a chemical peel can’t reach, providing more dramatic results. We can also use lasers for spot treatments for things like age spots and cherry angiomas. 

Benefits of laser resurfacing

  • More dramatic results
  • More precise/targeted spot treatments
  • Longer lasting results

What is recovery like after laser resurfacing?

The recovery process for laser resurfacing is similar to chemical peels, but generally will last a bit longer. You may experience redness the first day or so and your skin may be irritated for a few days following the procedure. Imperfections in your skin may start to seem more noticeable as they’re moving out of your skin.

Generally within about a week your skin will be glowing and fully recovered from your treatment.

Learn more about laser treatment recovery.

What laser treatments are available at Phases?

Phases Skin Care and Laser Center is proud to offer a large selection of laser treatment compared to most providers. These are some of our favorite lasers specifically for resurfacing:

CoolPeel CO2 Laser

The CoolPeel CO2 laser targets the superficial layer of skin tissue in order to remove damaged skin. It’s great for acne, age spots, and balancing skin tone!

Profractional Laser Resurfacing

We can target and improve the appearance of wrinkles, sun damage, and scars with a profractional laser treatment. It’s great for targeting specific areas of the skin and leaving the skin around it untouched. This treatment promotes rapid healing and collagen regeneration.


There’s a reason HALO is a go-to laser resurfacing treatment. Combining both ablative and non-ablative wavelengths allows us to treat any skin concern with little to no downtime after. HALO can also be tuned to your specific skin concerns and needs. 

Deep Ablative Peel

Deep laser resurfacing is only performed by a plastic surgeon because of the depth it reaches. It can treat a majority of skin concerns but has the longest downtime of any of our laser treatments

Our expert aestheticians can help determine which laser treatment would be best for your specific skin concerns and goals.

How do you choose? Laser resurfacing vs chemical peel treatments

The most important step in choosing any skincare treatment is to consult with a dermatologist or skin care professional. A skincare consultation can provide you with an in-depth analysis of your skin and provide the information you need to reach your cosmetic goals.

What happens during a consultation?

During a consultation with one of our aestheticians you’ll get the chance to ask any questions you have about your skin concerns. Your provider will examine your skin, go over your medical history, and ask about your goals for your skin.

Skin Analysis

We also highly recommend that our clients undergo a SkinPrint Skin Analysis as part of their skincare consultation. The Skinprint Skin Analysis provides real time measurements of your skin’s biometrics and allows us to fully customize your at-home skincare routine. 


Using all of the information, we can provide product and treatment recommendations beyond choosing a laser resurfacing vs chemical peel treatment. For some patients, depending on your desired results, using a combination of chemical peels and laser resurfacing over time would provide optimal results.

At the end of your consultation, we’ll provide you with pre and post treatment instructions for any procedure you’re scheduling. 

How do you maintain results after your skin resurfacing treatment?

Skin treatments like laser resurfacing and chemical peels can be an excellent part of your regular skincare routine.

Incorporating medical-grade skincare products into your daily skin care can help enhance and prolong the results of any aesthetic treatment you receive. 

You can use our skincare quiz to build your ideal routine based on your specific skin concerns and type.

Phases Skin Care and Laser Center is your go-to medspa in Indianapolis.

Whether you’re trying to choose between a laser resurfacing vs chemical peel treatment or just looking to upgrade your skincare routine, we’re here to help! Schedule your consultation with one of our aesthetic experts today.

Not quite ready for an in person visit? You can always explore our aesthetic treatments via our virtual consultation tool! Simply answer a few questions about your areas of concern and receive personalized recommendations right to your inbox!

Virtual Consultation Tool

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