What Would Heal Quicker, 20% TCA Peel or a Full Laser Face Resurfacing?

I want to get my face perked up, but i dont know wether to get 20% TCA on my face or full laser resurfacing, which ever is the quickest to heal ill opted for, any help.

Doctor Answers 9

TCA Peel vs Full Face Laser Resurfacing

Thank you for your question. There are many variables in choosing TCA versus CO2. This all depends on how many coats of TCA are used, how well prepped your skin is,  and for the CO2, the density of the pulses, the setting used, and the number of passes over your skin is all critical to know how aggressive the treatment is and your downtime.   Either could be quicker or shorter, depending on settings or time of exposure.  In our experience and in our hands, laser tends to have more reliable results and downtime, and we see more tightening with fractional CO2.Be certain to be under the supervision of a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with expertise in laser surgery for the most effective and safe treatments. I hope this helps.

Bay Area Dermatologist
3.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Healing times for 20% TCA Peel or a Full Laser Face Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing can vary greatly depending on the type of laser chosen and the depth/intensity of the treatment. Therefore, for laser resurfacing, you could have no down time to a month. From TCA peels, a patient generally will need a week to 2 weeks to heal depending on how the peel was applied. Ideally, you should choose an expert and experienced physician who can recommend a treatment or combination or procedures that best meets your needs.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Laser resurfacing..our favorite is Fraxel

With an experienced physician, one can have an Erbium 1500 Fraxel laser treatment , using 15 mJ settings and four passes (we call it a mini-Fraxel), and have no downtime. Use of a TCA peel is "old school", with variable penetration depending on technique, stratum corneum hydration, and tissue type. In comparison, a properly performed Fraxel treatment provides precise laser penetration, and stimulation of a cascade of rejuvenation events, including fibroblast growth and growth factor release.

Christine Glavey, MD (retired)
Alpharetta Dermatologic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

How fast to healing

How fast to heal depends on what is really being done and what results you want. Even a 20% TCA will vary depending on whether using Jessner's before or not, on how many layers used and on how it is wiped on. Lasers vary by types and settings. Go see your doctor and go over what you want in the end and then they will tell you the best way to achieve your goal. Might be worth a little more down time .

Jo Herzog, MD
Birmingham Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Facial peels and healing

A laser peel or a chemical peel can be equivalent in terms of healing provided that they are both performed to the same depth.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

TCA peel vs laser resurfacing

I am going to disagree with the other physicians. Healing time with laser resurfacing depends upon the type of laser used, the manufacturer of the laser and the settings used. A very light laser peel can have almost no healing time while a very deep laser peel can have a few week healing time. A 20% TCA peel healing time depends on the skin prep and amount of product placed. The answer is to go to an experienced physician for your laser or peel.

Jason Pozner, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

TCA Peel or Laser Resurfacing

TCA peels look their worst at 2-3 days, and by the end of the week look pretty good. Deeper peels may take longer, superficial peel less. Laser resurfacing with ablative lasers take may to 1 or 2 weeks for the skin to heal, and a month or two for redness to resolve. Your results may vary.

Joseph Mele, MD
Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Typically the TCA peel

Generally the TCA peel will be healed with a couple weeks. The laser peel will take a month. Both will have some redness to the skin after healed but again that should fade quicker in the TCA treated patient.

Robert Frank, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Recovery Time Depends on How the TCA Chemical Peel is Applied and What Kind of Laser and Also How it is Applied

That is a difficult question to answer in general since it depends on how aggressively your TCA was applied and also what kind of laser you had and how many passes.  If you are talking about 20% TCA you are probably talking about non physician strength and probably just a couple of light passes.  That tends to heal quite fast in several days to a week.  However, someone truly aggressive reapplying and reapplying it can actually make that 20% act closer to a 35% TCA especially if prepped with Jessner's solution and aggressively scrubbed in advance.

For full laser resurfacing, there are a billion types.  If you are talking about IPL treatments, then it could be just a few days.  If it is fractionated, it could be a few days to a week.  Also, it depends on what kind of fractionated like erbium versus CO2 and how many passes and how is doing it and what kind of device.  If you are talking about true "ablative" (that is all the skin is removed), then it could be longer.  For example, traditional full CO2 ablative laser can leave someone slightly red for 3 to 4 months but that is probably not what you are talking about.  in summary, ask your physician what kind of laser or peel he or she is planning and in his or her hands what kind of recovery should be expected.  that is much better than asking this question here on this forum.


sam lam
dallas, texas

Sam Lam, MD, FACS
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.