A traditional chemical peel is only one option for skin resurfacing. There are also many other options available for facial rejuvenation. Various chemical peel alternatives can address many of the following issues:

  • Dull skin
  • Rough skin texture
  • Sun damage
  • Age spots
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Acne
  • Acne scars

Here are a few treatments you may wish to explore:


This cosmetic treatment is an alternative to a light facial peel to brighten skin and improve its texture. The procedure involves stripping away the very top layer of dead skin cells (stratum corneum) with a fine spray of hard aluminum oxide crystals. Some newer equipment uses a diamond tipped buffer to accomplish the same goal. Many patients choose microdermabrasion followed by a superficial chemical peel to maximize the potential of both treatments. Just be careful when you combine procedures — they may have a stronger than expected impact when used together.


This is a much deeper level of abrasion that strips skin away down to the dermal layer. This type of procedure is used as an alternative to a deep chemical peel for treating skin problems such as acne scarring, skin discoloration or crow’s feet. It is a spot treatment — you wouldn’t have your entire face done since this would cause too much skin trauma. In contrast, with a deep peel, you can choose between a partial peel on problem areas or a full-facial peel for complete rejuvenation.

Cryosurgery, Imiquimod, Fluouroracil

Dermatologists and plastic surgeons sometimes use medium-depth chemical peels to remove precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. Left untreated, these lesions can develop into squamous cell carcinoma (a common form of skin cancer). Cryosurgery and chemotherapy creams are chemical peel alternatives that can also be used to remove these lesions. Cryosurgery is only done on the actual lesion and not on surrounding areas since scarring is a normal side effect. Imiquimod and fluororacil treatment takes many weeks and can be very irritating to the skin. The benefit of a chemical peel is that it improves the appearance of the patient’s entire face instead of just removing specific lesions. A peel may also eliminate lesions that are not yet visible to the naked eye.

Non-Ablative Laser Resurfacing

Fractional non-ablative lasers work by vaporizing tiny columns of skin tissue in the treated area. This action prompts the skin to heal itself – promoting collagen production and creating a smoother, clearer surface. Since plenty of skin in the target area is left undamaged, healing can take place relatively quickly. These lasers are used for improving skin’s texture and pigmentation. The procedure is most similar to a medium-depth peel as far as side effects, downtime and results are concerned. Non-ablative laser resurfacing can address fine lines, discoloration and mild acne scarring.

Ablative Laser

An ablative laser removes the top layers of skin, allowing fresh new skin to grow back. Like dermabrasion, this is one of the chemical peel alternatives for deeper wrinkles, age spots and scarring. Laser ablation has a longer downtime and a higher risk of complications than non-ablative laser procedures. Many patients choose ablative laser for spot treatments and select a less invasive resurfacing option for full face rejuvenation.

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)

This is a facial treatment that focuses on restoring even pigmentation and reducing liver spots and sun damage. Unlike other chemical peel alternatives, IPL can also address broken capillaries and other vascular irregularities. This makes it a useful treatment for patients with rosacea, birth marks and other issues that cause skin redness. Some patients have both IPL and a light chemical peel to address multiple skin imperfections.

Barcelona “Peel”

This treatment is called a peel, but it is actually a hydroquinone mask. The Barcelona peel is designed specifically for patients who need to address dyschromia (brown patches usually caused by sun damage or hormone changes). This treatment can lighten age spots and even out skin pigmentation. The treatment