Many of our clients ask us “What’s the difference between microdermabrasion and chemical peels?” As two of our most common procedures, both are extremely popular choices when it comes to skin care treatments. 

While there are some similarities between the two, there are a few key differences that people should be aware of when looking for the right treatment for their skin, including cost, recovery, and impact. 

Let’s walk through these two types of treatments so you can figure out which option is right for you.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive skin care treatment that removes dead skin from the outer layer of your skin, working to improve fine lines, aging skin, and discoloration. Essentially it is a deep exfoliation through the use of a vacuum by a professional. 

It is pain-free, requires no downtime post-treatment, and is completely safe.

Microdermabrasion treats the following conditions:

  • Acne
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Dry skin
  • Fine lines
  • Uneven pigmentation
  • Clogged pores
  • Rosacea
  • Minor scars
  • Skin texture problems

What is a chemical peel?

Like microdermabrasion, a chemical peel treats fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts, and other topical skin issues. 

What differs between the two is how the outer layer of the skin is removed to find the new skin underneath. While microdermabrasion gently removes the epidermis by suction, a chemical peel uses a chemical solution to dissolve the skin off. 

Chemical peels treat the following conditions:

  • Acne
  • Fine lines
  • Crow’s feet
  • Brown spots
  • Sagging skin
  • Wrinkles
  • Blemishes
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma (patchy facial skin discoloration)
  • Scars

A chemical peel works deeper than microdermabrasion, revealing newer skin underneath. Because of this, it does require a few days of peeling. Most dermatologists offer a few different levels of chemical peel in order to customize the process to each client’s needs. 

We are now offering the brand new SkinCeuticals Smart TCA Peel. Ask us about this new service today!

Microdermabrasion or chemical peel?

In short: it depends on what you’re wanting to get out of the treatment. If you want an affordable and fast option, microdermabrasion is typically a better choice. But if you want something that lasts longer, you may consider a chemical peel. 

Here are a few pros and cons of each treatment for you to evaluate:


Chemical Peel



Painless & affordable

Faster healing

Glowing complexion

Improves acne, dryness, texture

Long-lasting results (1-2 months)

Improves acne, scars, redness, wrinkles, pigmentation

Multiple levels/types

May reduce skin cancer risk



Not as targeted

Requires multiple treatments

More expensive

More painful

Longer healing time

If you’re looking for specific treatment due to certain issues, we’ve compared the two treatments for you to review.

Microdermabrasion vs chemical peel for acne

If you have active acne, chemical peels are a better choice because microdermabrasion can irritate it or even cause more issues. Chemical peels use salicylic acid to reduce further breakouts by exfoliating the dead skin cells. 

Microdermabrasion vs chemical peel for wrinkles

If you have light wrinkles, microdermabrasion or light chemical peels can help. For deeper wrinkles, a medium or deep chemical peel is the best option. 

Microdermabrasion vs chemical peel for sun damage

For rough skin caused by sun damage, microdermabrasion or a light chemical peel will work. If you have severe damage or are at risk of melasma, medium or deep chemical peels are better suited. 

As you can see, chemical peels will ultimately provide better, more targeted relief when it comes to specific issues. But for some people, it’s a less ideal option because of its higher cost and downtime, making microdermabrasion a better choice.

Can you get microdermabrasion and chemical peel together?

Yes! In fact, they work extremely well together to thoroughly cleanse and improve your skin. While you can’t get them at the same time, you can use both to optimize your professional exfoliation treatments and target different skin issues in a way that won’t overly irritate your skin. 

When you combine the two treatments, you can reduce the side effects of both and maximize your good-skin time without a lengthy recovery. 

Kansas City microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments

We are a leader in the Kansas City area for microdermabrasion and chemical peel treatments. Our medical aestheticians are trained experts in these two spa services. Our dedication to customer satisfaction and support makes us one of the best dermatologists in Kansas City

If you’re looking for a team that cares as much about your happiness and your skin’s, we’re the right place for you. Contact us to learn more.

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