Everything You Need to Know About Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peel

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Many people are always wondering which procedure is the best option for their skin treatment between microdermabrasion vs chemical peel. The simple answer is that the best option will be the one that meets your unique needs, and several factors should be considered before making a decision like this. 

A brief description of these procedures may provide a good understanding and information that you may need to make good decisions on the kind of skin treatment to use.  

What is Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a skincare treatment that is done to regenerate or restore ageing or damaged skin. It involves the removal of the outermost layer of the skin known as the epidermis using different processes to exfoliate the skin layer. Removal of the outermost skin layer exposes the new skin layer beneath the epidermis which is also known as the dermis. The skin cells in the dermis grow to replace the exfoliated cells which makes your skin beautiful, smooth and younger-looking. 

Most of the skin issues you want to treat with microdermabrasion are usually on the epidermis layer of the skin and removing this skin layer almost automatically takes care of the skin issue. 

Microdermabrasion is commonly used in treating skin issues such as acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, melasma, keratosis etc. 

Types of Microdermabrasion

There are essentially two types of microdermabrasion:

1. Crystal Microdermabrasion

2. Diamond Microdermabrasion

Crystal Microdermabrasion: This is also known as microcrystal microdermabrasion involves the use of superfine crystalline particles which are sprayed on your skin (face) using a microdermabrasion machine. The loose crystals are used to basically scrape away the old outer layer of the skin that also contains dead skin cells.

The machine also suctions away the used crystalline particles and the scraped or exfoliated skin leaving behind a nice smooth and young-looking skin. Some of the common crystalline particles used in this process include aluminium oxide, magnesium oxide, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) etc. Crystal microdermabrasion is an old dermabrasion technique that has been used for a very long time.  

Diamond Tip Microdermabrasion:  This entails the use of a diamond tip tool from a diamond tip dermabrasion machine to scrape the outer older layer of the skin, and the tool also has a suction that vacuums away the exfoliated skin. This method of microdermabrasion is newer, cleaner and considered to be safer than crystal microdermabrasion because it does not require the use of crystalline particles. The effects of the treatment are usually the same irrespective of the type of microdermabrasion that is used. 

What is Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are cosmetic treatments that use certain chemical solutions to exfoliate your skin and cause it to peel off. The peel off reveals the new layer of skin that is smooth, newer and most likely without blemish or at least less wrinkled or damaged.

The chemical peel treatment can be applied to different areas of the body and the most common areas for this treatment include face, neck, hands etc. Chemical peels are commonly used in treating a number of skin problems such as sunburns, mild or severe wrinkles, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, scars etc. 

Types of Chemical Peel

There are basically three (3) types of chemical peel treatments that are commonly available:

1. Superficial Peels: This entails the use of mild acids to exfoliate and peel the skin. It only works on the outermost layer of the skin and does not exfoliate beyond the dermis. Weak acids like alpha-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid are usually used for this type of chemical peel treatment. It is often used to treat mild skin issues like discoloration, rough and dry skin.  This can be done every two-five weeks. 

2. Medium Peels: This involves the use of stronger acids than mild acids to exfoliate and peel the outer and middle layers of the skin. Acids such as glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid are used in this kind of treatment. Medium peel treatments are most effective in treating skin issues like age spots, fine lines, wrinkles, freckles, as well as moderate skin discoloration.  This can be done every three – nine months to maintain the treatment results. 

3. Deep Peels: This type of chemical peel treatment penetrates the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and the middle to the lower layer of the dermis (middle layer of the skin) to exfoliate and peel away dead skin cells. Chemical solutions used for deep peels include phenol, trichloroacetic acid, pyruvic acid, etc.

This can be done to remove shallow scars, deeper wrinkles, age spots and precancerous growths. Deep peels are usually not a very good option for people with dark-coloured skin because it can result in hypopigmentation after healing. Also, deep peels are usually done only on the face and not on any other part of the body and it can only be done once. 

Products for Doing Chemical Peels At Home 

There a number of very important products that you need for doing a chemical peel at home. Some of these products include: 

1. Exfoliants (Enzyme Peels, Glycolic Acid Peels, Mandelic Acid Peels, Salicylic Acid, TCA Peels) Acid PH, 

2. Chemical Peel Neutralizer

3. Fan Brush

4. Gloves

5. Vaseline

How to Do Chemical Peels at Home

There are a couple of things you need to know if you decide to do microdermabrasion or chemical peel at home. Some of these include:

1. Never do a deep chemical peel or medium chemical peel at home. These treatments should only be done in a doctor’s (dermatologist) office. You will also have to be evaluated by a doctor to determine if this treatment is the best option for you.

2. Microdermabrasions can be done at home easily with the use of microdermabrasion machines for home use. Just follow the instructions in the owner’s manual on how to use the machine and do it. 

3. Superficial chemical peels and in some cases medium chemical peels can be done at home. Watch the video below to see how to do chemical peels at home. 

Microdermabrasion Vs Chemical Peel

Differences Between Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel

There are several differences between microdermabrasion vs chemical peel. Some of these differences include:

1. There are only two types of microdermabrasion and there are three types of chemical peels

2. Microdermabrasion involves the use of abrasive methods to remove skin layer while chemical peel also involves the use of chemical solutions to remove skin layer

3. Microdermabrasion methods only remove the outermost skin layer but chemical peels can penetrate the external skin layer to remove deeper layers of the skin (epidermis, outer and middle dermis)

4. Microdermabrasion can be repeated more frequently than some types of chemical peel (medium and deep peels)

5. Microdermabrasion can be done easily at home (especially with the use of diamond tip machines for home use) but most chemical peels will need to be done at the doctor’s office or esthetician’s office. 

6. Microdermabrasion can be done by most people but one type of chemical peel (deep peel) is usually not recommended for people with colored skin. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Microdermabrasion Vs Chemical Peel 

There are several advantages as well as disadvantages of microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments. It is important to consider the pros and cons of these skin treatment options before making a decision on which type of treatment will be most suitable for you.

Of course, you will have to consider other factors that will affect your treatment options and the kind of results you want to get before deciding on the choice of treatment. 

Both microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments have several common advantages and disadvantages in common and the descriptions of benefits (advantages) and pitfalls (disadvantages) have been combined together for both treatments. 

Advantages of Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel 

a) Both microdermabrasion and chemical peel skin treatments stimulate the production of collagen which increases the skin tension, stretches and smoothens the skin to reduce or eliminate wrinkles and fine lines

b) Both treatments improve the ability of the skin to absorb skincare products after treatment to produce more effective results. This occurs because both treatments result in exfoliation of the outer skin layer to produce a new layer of skin with a higher trans-dermal absorption capacity. 

c) Microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments are minimally invasive procedures considered to be very safe treatments with very little risk of complications

d) The treatments can be done easily and quickly in an outpatient setting and very minimum downtime requirement for you. This means that you can complete most of these treatments and go back to work without losing a significant amount of time for work. In fact, these are treatments that you can do during your lunch break. 

e) Most of these treatments can be done in the comfort of your home and you can even do some of them by yourself. There are diamond tip microdermabrasion machines for home use that you can use for microdermabrasion treatments at home.

Also, there are mild skin exfoliants (mild acids) that you can use for mild chemical peel treatment at home. (See some of these chemical exfoliants that you can use below)

f ) Most microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments are very affordable when compared to the cost of other cosmetic treatments.

Disadvantages of Microdermabrasion and Chemical Peel 

There are generally very few disadvantages to microdermabrasion and chemical peels and some of these include:

a) You can only do procedures like deep chemical peel once

b) A chemical peel may entail more discomfort and a little pain but a microdermabrasion treatment may involve very little to no pain or discomfort

c) People with dark skin colors may not be able to do a chemical peel

Side Effects (and Complications) of Microdermabrasion Vs Chemical Peel

Some of the side effects of microdermabrasion include skin tightness, redness of the skin, minor bruising, skin sensitivity, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, small skin abrasions etc. 

On the other hand, the side effects of chemical peel include redness of skin, burning sensation, itching, scarring, changes in skin color (hyperpigmentation common in superficial peels) and hypopigmentation (common in deep peels and can be permanent and affects people with dark skin color), in rare cases bacterial or viral infections may occur, risk of heart, liver, or kidney damage in deep peels.  

FAQs on Microdermabrasion Vs Chemical Peel

What is the Recovery Time for Chemical Peel? 

The recovery time is dependent on the type of chemical peel you have done. Superficial peels usually take between 5 – 7 days to heal, medium peels take between 7 – 14 days to heal, and deep peels usually take between 14 – 21 days to heal. 

What Should I Do or Expect After Chemical Peel?

After a chemical peel avoid sun exposure and smoking because they can cause unwanted side effects including infection and scarring. You can put on makeup the next day if you have done a superficial peel. Make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions if you have done a medium or deep peel and take your medications. 

How long does it take to see results from a chemical peel?

It depends on the skin condition and the severity of the condition you are treating with chemical peel or microdermabrasion. For some mild conditions, results can be relatively quick with one treatment but it may take a couple of treatments to see some real definite results.

Can I wear makeup after a chemical peel?

It depends on the chemical peel. You can wear makeup the following day if you have done a superficial peel. However, you need to follow the doctor’s instructions on when you can start putting on makeup if you have done a medium or deep peel. However, always remember to wear sunscreen all the time after a chemical peel.