Chemical Peel vs Micro-dermabrasion
Microdermabrasion is a mechanical, but gentle treatment that exfoliates the surface layer of your skin, removing the dead skin cells and leaving your skin looking and feeling much cleaner and fresher than it has in a very long time.
Chemical peels on the other hand, are far more invasive, because they use an acid to dissolve the bonds that hold your skin cells together. Depending on the type and strength of peel you select, can treat much deeper lines and wrinkles with a chemical peel than you can with a microdermabrasion treatment, and the effects are much longer lasting as well.
Some people decide to use both of these treatments, because this gives their skin the best results. Nevertheless, whether you chose a chemical peel or a microdermabrasion treatment, your skin will be left looking fresher, healthier and more radiant.
What is a micro-dermabrasion facial?
A micro-dermabrasion facial is a non-invasive and a non-chemical procedure that gently exfoliates the top layer of your skin, removing all of the dead skin cells.
This is one of these easiest anti-aging procedures you can use, because it softens fine lines and wrinkles, smooths the texture of rough skin, evens out your skin tone and gives you a brighter and fresher complexion.
You can perform a microdermabrasion at home quite safely, but you can also go to a salon for a course of treatments and mix it up with a course of chemical peels as well.
How does an at home micro-dermabrasion work?
When you perform a micro-dermabrasion at home, you are mechanically exfoliating the dead skin cells from your epidermis.
Unlike chemical peels, which dissolves the glue that holds these cells together, microdermabrasion mechanically breaks the filaments that hold the cells together.
When you have this performed in a salon or clinic, the depth of the dermabrasion is determined by the aesthetician or dermatologist, depending on each person’s needs. There are two types of micro-dermabrasion treatments – crystal or diamond-tip micro-dermabrasion.
This is the type of microdermabrasion you are most probably used to and it uses a wand to spray an exfoliant (quite often aluminium oxide crystals) onto your skin.
The residue, which consists of dead skin cells, debris and the crystals are vacuumed up through the same wand (there is one tube for the crystal spray and another tube in the same want for the suction).
This is a newer method for exfoliating your skin and as its name implies, it uses a diamond tip wand to remove the top layer of your skin.
They really work in the same way with very similar results, it’s just that with the diamond-tip microdermabrasion you don’t have a crystal residue and it is less uncomfortable.
There are different grades of diamond-tip, which give different depths of exfoliation and your practitioner will select the one that is best for your needs.
When is a micro-dermabrasion appropriate?
If you have dull, tired skin, mild acne scarring, skin discolorations or pigmentation or fine lines and wrinkles, then a microdermabrasion might be of benefit.
So if you just want to freshen your skin and give a healthier, brighter glow to your complexion with minimal downtime, then a microdermabrasion might be the option for you.
If you have deeper lines and wrinkles on your face and neck, then a chemical peel at a professional salon might be the best option.
When is micro-dermabrasion not appropriate?
There are a number of conditions that may preclude the use of micro-dermabrasion, but your practitioner should discuss these with you. Some of these conditions include:
- Inflammation of the skin or wounds.
- Bacterial infections.
- Keloid scarring.
- Lack of sensation in your skin.
- Botox within the past 3 or 4 days.
- If you take any acne medication, also discuss this with your practitioner.
What are the benefits of a micro-dermabrasion?
This gentle, non-invasive procedure has the following benefits:
- Brightens dull, tired looking skin.
- Evens out your skin tone.
- Gives you smoother textured skin.
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles.
- Minimizes skin discolorations, such as age spots or sun spots.
- Reduces mild acne scarring.
- Helps moisturizers and other skincare products to penetrate your skin more easily.
What are the side effects of a micro-dermabrasion?
After your treatment, your skin will be red and slightly swollen for at least a day, but this can last for a few days as well. You may also suffer from a burning or stinging feeling in your skin and you should moisturize your skin thoroughly as outlined by your practitioner.
It is very important that you also protect your skin from the sun, because it is now very sensitive to sun exposure and can burn very easily.
Is a micro-dermabrasion safe?
If your microdermabrasion is performed by a qualified practitioner, then any side effects should be minimal. Just make sure that your practitioner is experienced with microdermabrasion and if in doubt, always go to a dermatologist.
How long will the results last?
The results of your microdermabrasion are only temporary, although if you have a series of them, one after another, by a dermatologist, your results might last longer.
You can also have both a chemical peel and a microdermabrasion treatment, but you would need to discuss this with your dermatologist.
Micro-dermabrasion & acne scars
Mild acne scarring may well be reduced by microdermabrasion treatments, but deeper scarring is unlikely to be healed.
In cases of severe acne scarring, always discuss your situation with a dermatologist who can suggest a treatment or a series of treatments that will reduce your scarring.
Also, if you have active acne, microdermabrasion can in some cases make it temporarily worse, so always talk to an experienced practitioner, before embarking on a course of treatments.
Micro-dermabrasion for stretch marks
It is very unlikely that microdermabrasion will reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This is because microdermabrasion simply exfoliates your skin, which has no effect on the stretched elastic fibers and collagen in the deeper layers of your skin which cause the stretch marks.
Micro-dermabrasion for hyper-pigmentation
Exfoliation is one of the most common treatments for hyper-pigmentation. For mild hyper-pigmentation or an uneven skin tone, microdermabrasion is most probably suitable. In cases of severe hyper-pigmentation however, you might need a dermal peel which exfoliates deeper into your skin than a microdermabrasion treatment.
Always talk to your medical professional if you are considering microdermabrasion for your skin, because they can design a treatment plan that is customized for your needs.
Micro-dermabrasion for wrinkles
It will however, help to smooth out and minimize any fine lines on your face and neck, giving you a brighter, fresher and more youthful appearance.
How many micro-dermabrasion treatments do you need?
Some people have a series of six or more weekly sessions with their dermatologist, others just have one every month or one every now and again. The frequency of microdermabrasion treatments depends on how well your skin responds to the procedure and you can discuss this with your practitioner.
Micro-dermabrasion at home
If you decide to purchase a microdermabrasion machine for use at home, be sure to read all of the instructions that come with the packaging.
You also want to purchase a good quality microdermabrasion machine, but always perform a test on a small part of your skin, before using it all over your face.
Performing your own microdermabrasion at home, can work out to be a lot less expensive than attending a dermatologist’s clinic. If you are at all concerned however, always talk to a medical professional.
A chemical peel vs micro-dermabrasion
A micro-dermabrasion and chemical peel are both great for treating fine lines and wrinkles, acne and pigmentation problems.
The main differences between a chemical peel and a microdermabrasion treatment are that peels are far more invasive and depending on the type of peel you select, can treat much deeper lines then a microdermabrasion and so require a longer recovery period.
Micro-dermabrasions are very gentle, just skipping along the surface of your skin and mechanically removing the dead skin cells. This means that they can be used every one or two weeks with some people using them to freshen up their complexion a few hours prior to a special event.
A chemical peel on the other hand, is usually performed monthly rather than weekly and can it take up to a week before your face stops peeling and you feel comfortable enough to socialize.
Most people combine microdermabrasion and a chemical peel, such as a glycolic acid peel into their beauty routine – having a monthly glycolic peel for example, and a weekly microdermabrasion over the course of a few months.
If you have really deep lines or severe pigmentation issues, you might be best talking to a medical professional and booking in for a course of microdermabrasion and chemical peels.
You can purchase both at home microdermabrasion kits and chemical peels (glycolic acid is a very popular choice), but if you decide to take this option, always read the instructions carefully before using either of these treatments.
How much does a micro-dermabrasion cost?
I have seen costs for professional microdermabrasion treatments anything from $75 to $200 per session. At home microdermabrasion kits can actually be a similar price, but work out to be far more cost effective in the long run.
Micro-dermabrasion at home machines
There are a number of at home micro-dermabrasion machines available now and they can be a very good alternative to spending lots of money at a salon.
Whether or not an at home microdermabrasion machine is best for you – only you can decide, but here are two of the most affordable ones on the market.
Olay states that it exfoliates 700% better than their own facial scrub and gives you visibly brighter, fresher skin and a more even skin tone.
One of the great features of this micro-dermabrasion machine is that it is fully water proof, so you can use it in the shower. Read my full review here.
With this system, more than 90% of users had smoother more luminous skin after the first application and after 1 week – 88% of users saw visible improvement in the appearance of their fine lines. This is a very affordable microdermabrasion machine for home use. Read my full review here.
To read more about exfoliation and chemical peels – read my 4-part series here:
- Part 1: Exfoliation
- Part 2: The chemical peel process
- Part 3: Are chemical peels safe?
- Part 4: Chemical Peels vs Microdermabrasion