Micro Peel vs Chemical Peel: Which One is Your Best Bet?

A clinician wields a device on a woman laying down during a microdermabrasion.

Micro Peel vs Chemical Peel: Which One is Your Best Bet?

If you have to decide between microdermabrasion and a chemical peel, you might feel like you’re staring at a fork in the road. Technically, it’s not a fork because they often produce similar results, but either choice will lead to a different experience. This post will examine the differences between the two procedures, and how you can choose the best option. 

Microdermabrasion in Action 

During microdermabrasion, a clinician propels abrasive crystals along the skin with the assistance of a handheld vacuum-like device. The crystals serve as a sandpaper of sorts, gently scrubbing away the stratum corneum, the uppermost layer of the epidermis. 

This helps remove dirt, debris and dead skin cells. This layer of skin grows back as part of the wound healing process, but this time, it appears without the blemishes it once had. 

Chemical Peels in Action 

During a chemical peel, clinicians apply a solution to the skin, which sloughs off dead skin cells, causing them to peel away. This stimulates the growth of new skin that’s generally smoother and tighter than the old skin. 

Unlike microdermabrasion which is confined to the uppermost skin layer, a practitioner can target specific skin layers (depth) during a chemical peel. That means this treatment is more intensive and requires a longer recovery period than microdermabrasion, but it also can treat certain issues more effectively (more on this below). 

Which One is Better?

Now let’s say you’ve got this {insert nagging blemish}, and you want to get rid of it ASAP. How can you decide whether microdermabrasion or chemical peel is the right choice for you? Well, the short answer is this—”it depends”. They both have pros and cons, and can occasionally be used for the same reasons, so you’ll have to consider a few things first. 

Depending on treatment goal

As we mentioned above, the depth of these two treatments differ—microdermabrasion targets the very top of the skin, while chemical peel can selectively target lower levels. As a result, chemical peels are better for more advanced signs of aging and skin conditions. Here’s how they compare:

Treatment Comparison
Microdermabrasion Chemical Peel 
AcneHyperpigmentationDry skinFine linesUneven pigmentationClogged poresRosaceaMinor scarsSkin texture problemsAcneFine linesCrow’s feetBrown spotsSagging skinWrinklesBlemishesHyperpigmentationMelasma (patchy facial skin discoloration)Scars

Here’s a good reference (and starting point) for you. The conditions we bolded in each column indicates a condition for which the particular treatment is most effective. For example, if you have clogged pores or rosacea, then microdermabrasion is ideal, but if you’re looking to reduce wrinkles or sagging skin, then a chemical peel is the better choice. 

Here’s a rule of thumb to keep in mind: the deeper the cause of your complaint is, then a chemical peel is the solution (excuse the pun), while microdermabrasion is better for a “surface” issue. 

Depending on efficacy and recovery

Now you likely noticed that microdermabrasion and chemical peels can treat some of the same conditions. The three complaints both treatments can address are acne, hyperpigmentation and fine lines. In cases like these where both treatments can work, we need to look at which one delivers the most bang for your buck. In other words, that means figuring out which one delivers the best results with the shortest recovery time. 

Efficacy of microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel for Acne

  • Chemical peels are better for active acne since microdermabrasion can aggravate existing breakouts and make them worse.
  • Chemical peels can even reduce the chances of future breakouts due to their salicylic acid content.
  • However, microdermabrasion can be better for acne scars since they are less invasive and just as effective. 

Efficacy of microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel for Wrinkles and Fine Lines

  • Deeper wrinkles and fine lines need chemical peel treatment, because these issues need to be treated at lower skin depths, which only chemical peels can reach.
  • Microdermabrasion is better for light lines and wrinkles, because they aren’t as invasive as chemical peels, and have shorter recovery times. 

Efficacy of microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel for Wrinkles and Fine Lines

  • Microdermabrasion can address light hyperpigmentation and discolouration, which is ideal since it has a shorter recovery period.
  • Chemical peels are better for severe cases since they can target the lower skin depths where these issues stem from. 

It’s worth emphasizing a few things here too. Chemical peels can cause more discomfort and require longer recovery times, but produce longer lasting results and require fewer treatments. On the other hand, microdermabrasion requires more treatments and isn’t as targeted or long-lasting as chemical peels, but has shorter recovery times with minimal discomfort. 

Depending on cost

We don’t need to spend much time on this one, but it’s worth mentioning. Chemical peels are more expensive, since they involve more intensive, require more expertise and deliver faster, more permanent results than microdermabrasion. Assuming you have a mild condition that could benefit from either treatment, then you could opt for microdermabrasion as a more cost-effective alternative. 

Consult a Specialist to Decide

Ultimately, deciding whether to choose microdermabrasion or a chemical peel is a decision you don’t have to make alone. During a consultation with a clinician, you’ll tell them what your complaints and trouble spots are, and they’ll recommend what the best treatment option will be. That includes the best approach in terms of efficacy, recovery time, and cost. With their guidance, you can be confident that what your desired outcome is, you will make the best choice. 

At PSSC, we offer years of expertise and success for both microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments. Get in touch with us to help you choose the best treatment to achieve the results you deserve!

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