Microdermabrasion vs Chemical Peels
When discussing the different approaches to address premature aging, one common question I always tend to hear is, “What is the difference between a microdermabrasion and a chemical peel?” or, “Which of the two is more effective?” To break it down, microdermabrasion is an exfoliation method in which dead skin is PHYSICALLY removed, and a chemical peel is an exfoliation method is which the dead skin is CHEMICALLY removed. Because the skin takes a few days to acclimate to the chemicals, peeling doesn’t occur until 48 hours after a chemical peel, and typically lasts 3-5 days. Because dead skin is removed manually in a microdermabrasion, there is no downtime with regard to peeling. The two most common forms of microdermabrasion are the diamond tip and the microdermabrasion with crystals. Microdermabrasion with crystals is a form of exfoliation in which very refined crystals are applied to the face in a “sandblasting” fashion and with this method the dead skin cells are sloughed off. By comparison, the diamond tip microdermabrasion utilizes an abrasive tip (similar to refined sandpaper,) with a vacuum that collects the dead skin and impurities into a filter. Most spas and doctor’s offices offer both, but the diamond tip is more modernized and preferred by both patients and providers. Many providers prefer this form because of less tendency for equipment malfunction and the patients prefer it because it is more comfortable and leaves no residue or refined crystals on the skin. The diamond tip microdermabrasion offers tips with varying degrees of abrasiveness, and settings in which you can adjust accodingly. Chemical peels also vary in levels of aggressiveness depending on the chemicals being used. It is always important to consult with your provider to determine which method is best suited for your skin. For example, if a patient comes in with a moderate amount of broken capillaries, I often recommend the chemical peel which is less likely to worsen the condition than the microdermabrasion which is more technique sensitive. If a patient comes in with texture irregularities and acne scarring, I often recommend a microdermabrasion because I can manually concentrate on the pitting within the skin and other irregularities. No matter which you choose, microdermabrasion and chemical peels are both excellent ways to address premature aging, to improve the look and feel of your skin, and in fact can be used together or in conjunction with a broader treatment plan to improve your condition.