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The Difference Between Microdermabrasion and a Chemical Peel

For fine, surface-level imperfections in skin, patients often seek the advice of a trained medical professional. Often, the recommended treatment falls into one of two categories: microdermabrasion or chemical peel. These treatments have their similarities and their differences, and each treatment has variations that can be confusing. Wilmington’s, DE Juve Surgical will attempt to clear up some of these complex issues.

Both chemical peels and microdermabrasion exfoliate the outer layer of skin to reveal the smoother, younger-looking skin underneath. Chemical peels do this with the application of a cream that encourages the top skin layer to peel away.

Microdermabrasion physically abrades the skin

Microdermabrasion can be thought of as finely “sanding” or “sandblasting” the outer layer of skin to reveal the younger, smoother skin underneath. This is accomplished by a practitioner who uses one of two methods:

  • crystal microdermabrasion, which sprays a steady stream of very fine crystals against the skin
  • crystal-free microdermabrasion, where a wand tipped with diamond buffs away the upper layer

Microdermabrasion may be considered more aggressive than the milder chemical peels, but its after-effects are less pronounced than the more intense chemical treatments. Chemical peels involve the application of chemicals to smooth out wrinkles, address pigmentation imbalances, and reduce the appearance of acne scars and similar imperfections.

Chemical peels use chemicals to enhance the appearance of the skin

The chemicals are allowed to soak in, and over the next several days the outermost skin layer peels off, revealing the fresh skin beneath. There are three main types, listed here from the least to most intense:

  • alphahydroxy acid peels, including glycol peels
  • trichloroacetic acid peels
  • phenol peels

As noted before, the recovery time differs. Microdermabrasion patients typically see redness go down within a couple of hours; this can take up to two weeks with chemical peels, depending on the treatment used.

The results of a microdermabrasion are typically not as dramatic; phenol peels can have startling results, but the recovery time can be inconvenient. Peels can also have unwanted effects on patients with darker skin complexions and are therefore not recommended for them.

To further discuss microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and which treatment will best help you achieve your best-looking skin, schedule a free consultation with Wilmington’s Juve Surgical.