Jun 23, 2019

Chemical Peels vs Lasers For Skin Treatments


Dr. Christopher Zachary and our affiliate ZALEA news team sat down with Dr. Peter Rullan at the recent Masters of Aesthetics meeting in San Diego, California to find out more about the latest in chemical peels. Dr. Peter Rullan, a board-certified dermatologist, has lectured nationally and internationally over 100 times and is the author of chapters in 3 medical textbooks. His areas of special interests and training include the treatment of acne and psoriasis; chemical peels for acne scars, skin rejuvenation, and pigmentation.

Dr. Zachary: You've had so much experience with chemical peels, what would you tell the average patient who is interested in improving the appearance of their skin, about the differences between lasers and chemical peels? 

 Dr. Rullan: Lasers have a definite role in dermatology especially with things like vascular lesions and some pigmented lesions, but chemical peels are a lot less expensive. They can help you with common conditions that we see every day in practice. For conditions like acne, instead of buying a device, I could do a salicylic wash at 30 percent on acne or melasma, or Post Inflammatory Pigmentation (PIH), and that combined with other creams, I'm getting pretty good results for a penny. 

Dr. Zachary: Acne scarring or PIH, these are conditions that can be notoriously difficult to improve. And Melasma, even if you cure it, it's likely to come back again.  

Dr. Rullan: I have what I call the 4 P's:

  1. The first P is protection from heat, sun, and irritants. 
  2. The second P is products. (sunscreen)
  3. The third P is peels. Laser peels help but the salicylic and the glycolic peel can be done every month at a small cost to the patient. 
  4. And then finally pills. (tranexamic acid)
Dr. Zachary: So this is a relatively new discovery in the U.S., but it's been used extensively over the years in Europe. Can you tell us a little bit about tranexamic acid? 

Dr. Rullan: It was used to reduce bleeding in ladies during labor and the side effect profile at that time was huge, so we wouldn?t touch it. But studies from Europe and elsewhere have shown that in a smaller dose and for a period of 3 months or so, there have been virtually no side effects. We've been seeing good results. 

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Chemical Peel

Chemical Peel

A chemical peel is an in-office treatment that typically targets the skin on the face, neck and hands. Chemical peels can be light or deep, should reduce acne, wrinkles, scars and age spots, and improve the overall skin texture.
Skin Care

Skin Care

A variety of products, as well as personal routine, skin care is an important tool to protect the skin against the sun and the natural process of aging.
American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS)

American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS)

With more than 4,000 members in the U.S. and other countries, the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS) represents surgeons and physicians from more than 51 medical specialties, as well as other professionals such as nurses, physicists, biologists, and other health care professionals. The society has been promoting excellent patient care through biomedical application of laser technologies for over 30 years now.


Considered one of the most common skin diseases in the U.S., acne can occur at any age, and it can affect both men and women. When excess oil gets trapped under the top layer of the skin, acne bumps and sores (pimples, blackheads or cysts) develop as the result of the skin inflammation. The skin condition is also known as acne vulgaris.