Whether to get a chemical peel or microdermabrasion treatment is a dilemma faced by many individuals who feel the need to improve the appearance of their skin. There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding which type of treatment is best for you, including the time involved, side effects, recovery period and the cost of each.
And of course you also need to consider exactly what kind of results you’re looking for and what type of skin you have. The first step is to understand what each procedure entails.
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Chemical Peels: Superficial, Medium or Deep?
There are several different types of chemical peels depending on how deep into the skin you want the treatment to go. A superficial peel is the type that most closely mirrors microdermabrasion, as it deals only with the outermost layer of skin.
Medium and deep peels, as their names suggest, go further below the surface and are generally used to treat more serious skin issues, such as removing precancerous growths and reducing acne scarring. The type of peel is dictated by the specific chemicals used.
In each type of peel, the basic procedure is the same. A thin layer of chemicals is applied evenly to the area of skin being treated and allowed to remain on the skin for a short period of time before being deactivated and removed. Your dermatologist may have a small fan blowing on you during the procedure in order to help reduce the sensation of heat.
Most peels need to be completed in a series of treatments spaced a few weeks apart in order to obtain optimum results. When considering a chemical peel versus a microdermabrasion treatment, you’ll want to take this time commitment into consideration.
Side effects will vary depending on the intensity of the peel. Milder peels generally only result in some pinkness and flaking of the skin, while deeper peels can leave you with a temporary stinging sensation.
After all peels, you should avoid sun exposure and be sure to use a sunscreen at all times. Cost also varies, with superficial peels averaging anywhere from $100-$2,000.
Microdermabrasion: The Softer Solution
The main difference between a chemical peel and microdermabrasion is invasiveness. While peels necessitate chemicals seeping into the skin and the deepest peels will even require some anesthetic, microdermabrasion is much gentler and easier to tolerate.
While it also involves removing the outermost layer of skin, microdermabrasion does so with a low level “sandblasting” effect rather than the use of any chemicals.
In microdermabrasion, sterile micro-particles are used to gently blast the skin, causing the outermost layer to break up. A small vacuum is then used to remove these particles and the dead skin. This technique both exfoliates and resurfaces the skin, leaving it looking and feeling smoother.
Each treatment takes about 30-45 minutes and a series of treatments are usually needed to achieve the desired result. They are generally less costly than peels, averaging between $75-$200.
So Which Is Really Better?
The answer to whether a chemical peel or microdermabrasion is better for you really depends on your skin type and the result you’re looking for. The gentler microdermabrasion technique is suitable for any skin type, even sensitive skin, while deeper chemical peels are generally only recommended for those who need serious treatment of pigmentation problems, growths or deep scarring. If you are in doubt about which treatment to get, it’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor first.