Chemical Peels vs. Microdermabrasion - Which is Better?


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Both chemical peels and microdermabrasion (also referred to  as microderm) are interchangeable methods both achieving the same results. They both leave the skin looking radiant and feeling much softer.  Due to the intense similarities which exist between the two treatments microdermabrasion is commonly described as a microdermabrasion peel.

Under no circumstances should microderm and chemical peels be used together as this would create a double peel. This can seriously damage your skin, leaving it permanently marked. 

Microdermabrasion like chemical peels function by removing the stratum corneum ( the dead outermost layer of skin). They differentiate from chemical peels because they physically rather than chemically exfoliate.  Akin to chemical peels the purpose of undergoing microdermabrasion is identical to  that of chemical peels.  The purpose of microderm is to reduce the appearance of scars and dark patches of the skin and effectively remove dead sun-damaged skin.

What is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a collective term for a variety of different treatments, popularised in spas. These include: abrasive paddles, crystals passed across the surface of the skin and creams consisting of abrasive particles. All act as physical abrasives unlike the chemically exfoliating peel.

Like chemical peels there exists a great deal of scientific debate as to whether microdermabrasion acts to stimulate collagen production. Similarly to a chemical peel this is a non-invasive treatment and can work on various areas of skin such as the neck.

If you suffer from any of the following conditions then you should not be treated by any microderm methods: eczema, psoriasis, active herpes lesions, active acne or roscea, those with open sores or lesions, dermatitis and lupus. Also, if you have been using Accutane within the last 6 months you should not receive a microderm treatment.

Similarities & differences between Microderm & Chemical Peels

Microdermabrasion lasts for around 15 to 30 minutes, with most patient’s finding it to be a pleasant and pain free experience.  However, unlike chemical peeling you will feel a mild scratching sensation as the paddle or crystals rub against your dead skin cells.   After your skin will be left reddened, like after a chemical peel and your skin with feel tight although this will be re-placed by a kind of vibrating sensation.  If the treatment involves a suction cup then your skin may be left bruised which is virtually impossible with a chemical peel.

As there are innumerable varieties of microderm treatments it is virtually impossible to grant a blanket cost figure of  a microderm treatment. Basically facial washes, which exfoliate, can be classed as a microderm treatment, as can more costly treatments.

Microdermabrasion is really only an alternative to a superficial chemical peel in terms of recovery time. With microderm treatments the most amount of time that it will take for your skin to recover is a day, unlike deep chemical peels which result in 1 to 2 weeks of downtime.

Chemical peels are available in three different strengths: mild (superficial), medium and deep whereas microderm treatments are not so clearly classified. It takes about 6-12 sessions for microderm to be effective whereas deep peels can be once in a lifetime treatments.

A good alternative for those with dark skin

Deep chemical peels can alter the pigmentation of your skin whereas this is not a side effect of microderm. Therefore if you have darker skin microdermabrasion is effectively less risky than having a chemical peel.


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