Microdermabrasion VS Microneedling

An in depth look at two popular exfoliation methods

Superficial microdermabrasion, often called the “the lunchtime peel”, is a widely known and accepted part of our skin care inventory. It is most commonly performed by estheticians in dermatology/plastic surgery offices, as well as in med spas. The “lunchtime peel” is precisely that-it is quick, with little recovery time. Several successive light microdermabrasion treatments can improve the appearance of brown pigmentation and the fine lines caused by aging and sun exposure.

Microdermabrasion is the perfect procedure to have before an important event, so that makeup glides on seamlessly. Microdermabrasion is the only procedure we allow brides/bridal parties to do the week before the wedding. But what if your client has acne or traumatic scars that are raised or pitted? And those permanently enlarged pores that run in the family? For these “deeper” problems, microneedling may be the answer. Microneedling is performed by physicians, physician assistants, RNs, NPs, or licensed paramedical aestheticians only.

Scars originate in the dermis, the second layer of the skin, and the microneedling must penetrate to this level for the treatment to be effective. There are various microneedling-rollers devices which have “needles” of varying sizes and lengths to customize each treatment according to individual patient needs. One can also customize the number of passes used on different areas, to maximize results while minimizing recovery.

Since this procedure is a superficial resurfacing technique that leaves patients with open, abraded skin, recovery of 4-5 days is required before makeup can be applied. Immediately after treatment, patients apply antibiotic cream (we like Polysporin® or Biafine® best) while the skin surface is healing, to prevent infection. Generally, as the top layer of dermis and the overlying epidermis regrow over the abraded areas, the pits, scars, and open pores assume a smother and flatter appearance.

Some patients, particularly those with darker skin types, may risk post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) which is usually temporary and may be treated with topical skin lighteners and retinoid medications. Microneedling is not for everyone, and proper education is essential for anyone considering this procedure. It provides an intermediate way to resurface the face, chest or back, and can be more effective and longer-lasting than the lighter microdermabrasion, without as much recovery time as resurfacing lasers.

As with many other cosmetic skin procedures, the effects of this technique can be maintained by rigorous use of a good sunscreen and enhanced by continued use of topical retinoid and vitamin C AHA/BHA creams at home. While many people are happy with the “lunchtime peel”, microneedling may also be appropriate.

“Microdermabrasion is the perfect procedure to have before an important event, so that makeup glides on seamlessly.”


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S Manjula

Dr. Jegasothy specializes in Cosmetic Dermatology and is Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Jegasothy has advocated for years that pursuing a "natural look" in all aesthetic dermatology is best. Known for her gentle technique and "light" but precise injecting skill, she and her thousands of loyal patients agree that the best aesthetic procedures are customized at every visit to ensure noticeable results while enhancing and preserving the inherent beauty we all possess.