Microneedling and chemical peels are one of the most popular noninvasive cosmetic procedures for treating wrinkles, acne scars, and other signs of aging on the face. However, while these cosmetic dermatology treatments that are regularly performed at Wall Street Dermatology correct similar skin conditions, they are very different procedures in terms of benefits, mechanism of action, cost, results, recovery, and more.
Below we’ll outline microneedling vs. chemical peels so you can choose the best cosmetic treatment for your skin condition.
If you are interested in microneedling provided by cosmetic dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Julia Tzu, schedule a cosmetic consultation to take the next step.
What is a Chemical Peel?
A chemical peel is a topical treatment for the skin. The cosmetic procedure removes the surface layer of skin to reveal a more even, rejuvenated appearance.
Chemical peels have benefits related to improving the appearance and texture of the skin. Some of the most common skin conditions that you can treat with chemical peels include:
- Wrinkles/fine lines, mild scars
- Uneven skin tone and texture
- Pore size
Chemical peels involve carefully applying a chemical solution evenly to the surface of the skin. The chemical solution penetrates through the skin to a certain depth and creates an even layer of injury that peels off, but stimulates new skin to regrow. The new layer of skin should be smooth and healthy.
The type of chemical peel determines how much the cosmetic treatment will cost. This means the price can range widely. A chemical peel procedure can cost as little as $200 and as much as $6,000.
Types of Chemical Peels
Not all chemical peel treatments are the same. They vary based on the harshness of the chemical solution. There are three main categories of chemical peels: superficial, medium, and deep chemical peels.
Superficial peels use more gentle chemicals to treat only the top layer of skin. Medium chemical peels use a higher concentration of the same chemicals to reach the mid-layer of skin for treatment. Deep chemical peels treat deeper wrinkles, mild scars, and severe sun damage with an even more irritating and potent solution of chemicals that peels off a deeper layer of skin and leaves the skin red and crusty.
The recovery from superficial, medium, and deep chemical peels look vastly different. Superficial chemical peels will cause some redness and flakiness to the skin while deep chemical peels cause an actual burn wound on the skin. Several weeks may be required for the skin to recover from a deep chemical peel.
During the recovery period, use cool water to wash the face, moisturize, and avoid exfoliants.
What is Microneedling?
Microneedling is a cosmetic procedure that inserts small or “micro” needles into the skin in a precise, controlled fashion to reduce the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Microneedling allows the skin to regenerate and heal, which makes it a great cosmetic treatment for a wide range of skin conditions, including:
- Scars: Acne, surgery, traumatic, chickenpox, etc.
- Wrinkles and Fine Lines: Microneedling causes collagen production, which helps reduce wrinkles and lines
- Pores: Microneedling shrinks pores and makes the skin soft and supple
- Stretch Marks: Microneedling induces collagen production to even out stretch marks
- Uneven Discoloration and Skin Texture: Microneedling evens out discoloration and skin texture
Microneedling begins with the application of numbing cream, which prevents discomfort during the cosmetic procedure. Your dermatologist will then use a microneedling device to create precisely controlled micro punctures within the skin, causing the production of more collagen. More collagen results in the rejuvenatory improvement of a variety of unwanted skin conditions. After completing the cosmetic procedure, a soothing cream is spread over the skin to help with healing.
The microneedling procedure itself generally takes around 20 minutes, but it could take longer for a larger treatment area or a more severe condition.
The cost of microneedling varies based on the size and location of the treatment area, as well as aggressivity of treatment. However, microneedling in NYC can range between $550 to $1,200. Schedule a consultation with your dermatologist for a more accurate estimate of what your cosmetic treatment may cost.
As the skin begins to heal from the “micro-wounds,” results begin to set in. However, it may take four to six weeks to see peak results in the appearance of scars, wrinkles, fine lines, and pores.
These results will last around three months, at which point additional microneedling sessions may be needed. However, microneedling also creates skin improvement over a long period of time.
Keep in mind that microneedling requires multiple sessions for optimal, clinically significant results. The number of sessions will depend on what the treatment is intended to achieve.
Following the microneedling procedure, the skin will look sunburned and feel tender. However, this is typically resolved within 4-5 days. During this time, the skin should be cleansed with a gentle cleanser, hydrated, and protected from sun exposure.
Which Cosmetic Procedure is Better?
If you’re unsure whether microneedling or chemical peels is better for you, it’s important to remember that the best cosmetic procedure for your skin is the one that satisfies your needs and cosmetic desires. The average chemical peel treats mostly superficial skin conditions without dramatic results, although deeper peels utilizing harsher chemicals can provide more pronounced outcomes.
In comparison, microneedling is a more aggressive, yet controlled cosmetic procedure that can provide more dramatic results for scars, wrinkles, fine lines, and large pores compared to the average chemical peel and with less downtime and risk of adverse outcomes compared to deep chemical peels. Moderate to deep chemical peels have a multiple-week recovery, while microneedling has a 4 to 5 day turnaround. The cost for these cosmetic procedures is comparable.
If you’re looking for a cosmetic treatment that can result in more visible treatment outcomes with a quicker recovery time, microneedling may be the right cosmetic procedure for you. For an expert consultation with a board certified cosmetic dermatologist about which cosmetic treatment is better for your skin, call Wall Street Dermatology today at 212-931-0538.
About Dr. Julia Tzu
Dr. Julia Tzu is the Founder and Director of Wall Street Dermatology. She has 15+ years of experience in dermatology, and is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at NYU School of Medicine. She is one of very few triple board-certified dermatologists in the world, with board certifications in surgical dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, and general dermatology.
- Stanford (Phi Beta Kappa)
- Johns Hopkins School of Medicine MD
- University of Miami Dermatology Residency
- Fellowship training from NYU (Dermatopathology) & University of Pennsylvania (Surgery and Cosmetics)
- 10 years running her private practice in NYC