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How is Laser Peel different from Chemical Peels & Microdermabrasion?

NanoLaser Peel vs. Chemical Peels/Microdermabrasion

The theory behind both the NanoLaser Peel and chemical peels or microdermabrasion are very similar in that they both remove the upper layers of the skin to improve texture, pigment problems wrinkles, acne scarring and signs of aging. So, which is right for me?


  1. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a type of skin rejuvenation that uses a minimally abrasive instrument to gently exfoliate the skin to remove the outermost layer of thickened or uneven skin. It can stimulate collagen production which is essential to making your skin look smooth and plump.

Microdermabrasion is typically used to:

  • Exfoliate the skin to reveal a fresh healthy glow
  • Improve discoloration
  • Reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Treat acne or acne scars
  • Reduce pore size

During and after microdermabrasion:

A microdermabrasion treatment takes approximately 30 minutes. A device with microcrystals will be used to exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) and stimulate new skin growth. A suction mechanism will also be used to whisk away the skin cells that are removed. Most patients say they experience a mild scratching sensation during the treatment.  Following the treatment, your skin may appear red like a sunburn for a day. You can expect your skin to be dry and flaky for the next 2-3 days.

Microdermabrasion is the least invasive and least expensive of the three treatment we are comparing. It will not treat deep wrinkles, significant pigmentation issues or tighten loose skin.


  1. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels have been a mainstay in the cosmetic medicine industry for well over a century. In the right hands, they can offer reliable results to improve skin concerns. Chemical peels are usually divided into three categories: light, medium and deep peels.

  • Light: These peels use agents with low concentrations of TCA, glycolic acid and Jessner’s solutions to remove the outer most layer of the skin (epidermis). These are best for skin maintenance as they do not penetrate very deeply and can be done every two to four weeks for best results. They can help fade very minor hyperpigmentation of the skin.  Downtime is usually 3-7 days. Some light peels only require avoidance of the sun and a good moisturizer.
  • Medium: These peels use higher concentrations of the above agents. Medium peels penetrate deeper and can help decrease the appearance of more stubborn pigmentation and signs of aging than a light peel. They are associated with longer healing and downtimes, typically 7-14 days. These peels can be repeated every six to twelve months if necessary.
  • Deep: Deep peels use a strong chemical called phenol. This chemical can penetrate down to the dermis and often requires some type of local anesthetic or sedative to manage discomfort during treatment. These peels can produce long lasting results, up to ten years. Deep peels are associated with the highest risk of skin discoloration and scarring. These peels should only be performed by an experienced provider. Most people can return to normal activities after two weeks but your skin may remain red for up to a month.

A chemical peel can improve:

  • Sun damaged skin
  • Rough skin texture
  • Scars
  • Irregular skin pigmentation (age spots)
  • Acne
  • Fine lines and wrinkles

A chemical peel won’t:

  • Treat deep lines and wrinkles
  • Treat broken capillaries
  • Improve deep scars
  • Tighten loose skin

Chemical Peel Risks: A chemical peel is usually safe when performed by an experienced provider. While these complications are infrequent:

  • You may develop an infection or scarring after a chemical peel
  • Certain skin types have a higher risk of permanent skin discoloration
  • Use of hormonal medications (i.e. birth control pills) or family history of brown discoloration of the skin can increase your chances of developing abnormal pigmentation changes.
  • If you have a history of cold sores (herpes virus), a chemical peel may trigger an outbreak. Be sure to tell your provider so they can prescribe you an anti-viral which will help to avoid an outbreak.
  • Chemical peels may not be right for you if you have history of keloids or excessive scarring
  • Chemical peels are not recommended if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

The cost of chemical peels will depend on the depth of the peel. Light peels can be comparable to cost and results of microdermabrasion. Medium to deep peels are costlier but also more effective at treating skin concerns than that of microdermabrasion or a light peel.


  1. Laser resurfacing (Nano and Microlaser Peel)

Laser skin resurfacing, such as NanoLaser Peel and MicroLaser Peel, can reduce facial wrinkles, scars and pigmentation irregularities with a precision that cannot be found with treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels.

Laser skin resurfacing can:

  • Improve scars from acne or other wounds
  • Increase collagen production to promote tightened healthy looking skin
  • Improve the appearance of sun damage or age spots
  • Decrease pore size

During Nano/MicroLaser Peel Treatment:

The NanoLaser/MicroLaser Peel can instantly remove the layers of the epidermis using light energy rather than chemicals or harsh abrasives. The laser offers precision to remove the layers to the exact preferred depth. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are often unable to reach the depth safely that the NanoLaser Peel can achieve. A topical numbing cream will be applied for 20 minutes prior to the treatment to help reduce discomfort. Depending on the size of the area being treated, most sessions take about 30 minutes. My patients described the sensation of the laser as warm and mild burning, like a sunburn.

After Nano/MicroLaser Peel:

Down time depends on the microns or depth of treatment. A NanoLaser Peel can remove up to 20 microns of skin and take about a week to heal. Days 1-3 usually results in skin redness. I recommend that my patients use an emollient balm, such as Skinceuticals HydraBalm, multiple times throughout the day. On days 4-7, the skin is still mildy red and will begin to flake and peel. Most patients return to work and normal activities after the first 3 days. A MicroLaser Peel removes more than 20 microns of skin and has a longer down time which directly relates to the depth of treatment. Cost of laser peels vary depending on the depth of treatment.

Laser skin resurfacing may not be the best treatment for you if:

  • You have a very dark skin complexion
  • Active acne
  • Are pregnant
  • Have history of metal implants in the area being treated

So…. Which option is best?

A NanoLaser Peel can be more effective than a chemical peel because the laser not only removes the outer most layers of the skin, it also heats up the epidermis. This heat stimulates collagen production in the dermal layers which plumps up the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. The heat also results in a tightening effect of the skin in the days after the treatment which will continue to improve for 4-6 months after the treatment.

You will see short and long term improvements in your skin after a NanoLaser Peel. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion do not use heat and are only able to scratch the surface of the epidermis which accounts for their significantly less cost and temporary results when comparted to a NanoLaser Peel.

If you are interested in rejuvenating the look of your skin, there are options for you! At NOVA Plastic Surgery, we would love to sit down and discuss your skin concerns and goals during a complementary consultation.