Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are procedures offered by dermatologists to treat similar conditions such as oily skin, large pores, wrinkles, acne scars, and hyper pigmentation. The objective of both of these treatments is to remove the superficial layer of the skin afflicted with such conditions, to reveal clearer and more even toned skin.
Despite these similarities, there are significant differences in the actual procedure, recovery time, and post-procedure effects of microdermabrasion and chemical peels.
During a microdermabrasion procedure, a machine with a wand-shaped device sprays fine crystals on your face blasting off dead and damaged skin cells, which are simultaneously suctioned off by the same wand. This will take around fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on how damaged your skin is.
Meanwhile, during a chemical peel procedure, an acid will be applied on your face using a brush or cotton balls. Different kinds of solutions are used depending on how deep a peel is required. The most common chemical peels use retinoic acid, salicylic acid, kojic acid or glycolic acid. This will be left on your face for five to fifteen minutes after which, a neutralizer will be sprayed on your face before the solution is finally rinsed off.
For deeper peels, like retinoic acid peels, a local anesthesia will be injected on your face before the solution is applied, to relax and numb the face. The solution is left on for thirty minutes to two hours. After your face is neutralized, a soothing agent such as petroleum jelly will be applied on your face.
The microdermabrasion procedure is relatively comfortable and relaxing. Whereas a light chemical peel procedure will sting your face slightly until a neutralizer is sprayed. Medium and deep chemical peels will have a more intense stinging effect, which is why local anesthesia injections are required for these peels.
The peeling action in chemical peel procedures take place days after it is done. Your face will experience redness and scaling for the next three to five days following a light peel. While medium to deep peels cause the skin to turn brown and crusty for two weeks. During this period you can take pain relievers and apply a cold compress on your face frequently. On the other hand, microdermabrasion procedures do not require any recovery time.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons: The Resource for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
“Overview of Chemical Peel Treatments: Results, Costs”
American Academy of Dermatology
“Facial Skin Rejuvenation.”