Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are both nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedures used to improve the appearance of your skin. How do they differ? How do you know which skincare treatment is right for you?
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is a skin-resurfacing treatment used to treat wrinkles, skin discoloration, and scarring. As an outpatient procedure, peels are performed in various locations: day spas, doctors’ offices, medical spas, and surgery centers. A chemical solution is used to remove superficial layers of skin. This solution causes the skin to react in a similar way to a sunburn: light chemical peels will cause redness in the skin. Scaling or peeling is seen for anywhere from three days to a week.
As the skin heals from a chemical peel, smoother and younger-looking skin grows back in its place. Mild peels may be repeated at two to four-week intervals until the desired results are obtained. Medium-depth peels may be repeated in four to six weeks if needed to reach the desired results.
Types of chemical peels
- Light chemical peel – removes the outer layer of skin (epidermis). Light peels treat fine wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone, and dryness. Light chemical peels can be repeated as often as every two to five weeks to achieve the desired results.
- Medium chemical peel – removes skin cells from the epidermis as well as portions of the top section of the dermis, or middle layer of skin. A medium chemical peel is also used to treat wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone, but also helps reduce or remove the appearance of shallow acne scars. Medium chemical peels can be repeated after four to six weeks to maintain or improve results.
- Deep chemical peel – removes skin cells from the epidermis and parts of the mid to lower layer of the dermis. Deep wrinkles or scars are often treated with deep peels.
What happens during a chemical peel?
The aesthetic professional who administers your treatment will start by cleaning your skin. Afterwards, one or more chemical solutions will be applied to the targeted areas of your skin. Chemical solutions such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, trichloroacetic acid, or carbolic acid are most frequently used in this treatment.
After the application of the solution, many clients experience a burning sensation on their skin. After a few minutes, the burning sensation fades into a stinging feeling. that lasts about five to ten minutes, followed by a stinging sensation.
After a chemical peel
Cool compresses can help with the stinging sensation that is often experienced immediately following a chemical peel. Re-building serums can be recommended such as the Growth Factor Serum Plus and hyaluronic acid bandages may be required for several days on portions of or all of the skin that was treated with the solution. There is typically no pain following a chemical peel, but the skin could take anywhere from a day to a week to heal, depending on the depth of the peel. In the meantime, the skin will be reddened, somewhat swollen, and feel tight. Avoiding sun exposure and using sunscreen will be very important for several months as the new skin will be delicate.
What is microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion, like a chemical peel, involves removing the top layer of the skin using a combination of abrasion and suction. It is a treatment for uneven skin tone, mild acne, acne discoloration, dark spots, and superficial acne scarring. Using a small hand-held sprayer or a bristle-tip wand, a skin care technician will gently exfoliate the epidermis to rejuvenate it. Microdermabrasion is a minimally-invasive, in-office procedure that takes approximately an hour to perform.
What happens during microdermabrasion?
At Peak Day Spa, our technician will cleanse your skin before moving a bristle-tip wand over the skin. A small vacuum removes the exfoliated skin cells. The wand moves over the skin using sweeping motions while the loose skin is suctioned off at the same time. The sensation is frequently compared to the feel of a cat’s lick. As a general rule, the depth of a treatment depends on the speed of the application and the number of passes made over the skin. However, the pressure and speed can be easily adjusted depending on the sensitivity and tolerance of the skin.
The average microdermabrasion treatment will take an hour or less. Minimal to no recovery time is needed. Most people return to their daily activities immediately following a treatment. Re-building serums are recommended such as the Growth Factor Serum Plus or hyaluronic acid products.
The skin that has been treated will turn a mild pink, which usually fades within a few hours. However, a slight sunburn-like sensation may be felt by the patient for a few days following the treatment. Light exfoliation of the skin may also occur and can be addressed with moisturizer. Sunscreen should be used religiously as the skin will be more sensitive following microdermabrasion treatment. Microdermabrasion treatments can be performed every 2-3 weeks.
Which treatment is right for you
Much of this decision will depend on what conditions you’d like to correct or reduce, as well as your schedule constraints and the recommendations of your esthetician. Microdermabrasion requires no downtime and no adjustment to daily activities. The treatment stimulates collagen production, encouraging skin rejuvenation. The results of the treatment are subtle: age spots and fine lines are diminished, and the skin will be smoother and softer. Those with deeper wrinkling or acne scarring will likely not see a dramatic difference in these specific problems as a result of microdermabrasion, but will see younger-looking, brighter, and clearer skin.
A chemical peel will make a more noticeable difference in skin with deep wrinkles or acne scars. However, the recovery time and adjustment to daily activities that may be required in order to receive a chemical peel should be considered. Both treatments will need to be repeated periodically in order to maintain or achieve the desired results.