Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Which is Right for You?

In our constant quest to maintain youthful looks and achieve flawless skin, we often come across myriad beauty treatment options which sometimes make it challenging to select the best. Among the most widely used beauty treatment options today are microdermabrasion and microneedling. These two procedures are renowned for their effectiveness, but also bring with them a host of questions: Which treatment is better? Which one is right for me? In what ways are they different?

To answer these questions and more, this guide aims to provide a comprehensive comparison between microdermabrasion and microneedling. We will delve into their respective processes, difference, benefits, side effects, and aftercare, thereby enabling you to make an informed decision for your skin care regimen.

Difference Between Microdermabrasion and Microneedling Procedure

Both microdermabrasion and microneedling are skincare treatments aimed at improving the overall appearance of your skin. However, the process, purpose, and results significantly differ for both procedures. Here is a more in-depth comparison:

Procedure

In a microdermabrasion treatment, a specialist uses a unique handheld device equipped with an abrasive surface to gently sand away the thick outer layer of the skin, renewing its overall texture and appearance.

Contrarily, the microneedling process involves a tool known as a dermaroller, equipped with tiny needles that puncture the skin’s surface. The purpose of these micropunctures is to stimulate the body’s natural wound healing process, resulting in increased collagen and elastin production.

Purpose

Where microdermabrasion aims to eradicate the surface layer of your skin to treat light scarring, discoloration, and sun damage, microneedling targets deeper layers of your skin to address more severe damage such as deep wrinkles and extensive sun damage. Microneedling can also aid in the absorption of topical products into the skin.

Results

Results from both treatments differ in their longevity and effect. Microdermabrasion results are instant – you’ll see an immediate improvement in skin texture, and your skin will feel smoother right away. However, these results aren’t as durable, and there is minimal downtime. Typically, a series of treatments is required for more noticeable and lasting effects.

In contrast, microneedling results take a bit longer to show – normally around 4-6 weeks post-procedure. This is because collagen, a protein responsible for keeping our skin firm and youthful, takes time to grow. However, the results tend to be more long-lasting than those of microdermabrasion, as microneedling promotes natural skin repair.

microdermabrasion-health-new-york

Credit: Health, New York, NY

Microdermabrasion Vs. Microneedling: Key Differences

While both microneedling and microdermabrasion are designed to enhance skin appearance, several key differences set them apart.

  • Depth of Treatment: While microdermabrasion is a superficial skin therapy targeting the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), microneedling goes deeper, penetrating the dermis (the layer beneath the epidermis).
  • Purpose of Treatment: Microdermabrasion is primarily used to treat superficial issues such as fine lines, mild acne scars, sun spots, and uneven texture. In contrast, microneedling can address deeper skin problems, such as deep acne scars, larger wrinkles, and significant sun damage.
  • Results: Microdermabrasion results are instant; the skin feels smoother immediately after the treatment. However, the effects are not long-lasting. Microneedling, on the other hand, requires time for results to unfold – typically around 4-6 weeks. However, the results are generally more durable than those of microdermabrasion.

Benefits

Microneedling and microdermabrasion have unique advantages:

  • Microdermabrasion: Immediately brings a fresh, healthy glow, reduces fine lines, wrinkles, and mild, superficial acne scars, improves skin texture and color, helps in product penetration, and treats early photoaging (sun damage).
  • Microneedling: Smoothens and corrects damaged skin, reduces the appearance of acne scarring, improves skin texture, reduces pore size, reduces the appearance of stretch marks, and offers more substantial wrinkle reduction.

Acne Scars

For mild, superficial acne scars, microdermabrasion can be effective. However, for deeper acne scarring, microneedling tends to be more successful due to its ability to stimulate new collagen formation deep within the dermal layer.

microdermabrasion for acne before and after
Credit: Dermcollective, US
microneedling for acne scars before and after
Credit: San Francisco, CA

Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Both microneedling and microdermabrasion can help to diminish the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. However, microneedling, with its deeper penetration and ability to enhance collagen production, proves more effective in addressing deep wrinkles compared to microdermabrasion.

microdermabrasion before and after wrinkles
Credit: W Skin Studio, US
microneedling before and after wrinkles
Credit: Uptown Body Countouring, NY

Collagen Production

Both treatments stimulate collagen production. However, microneedling instigates a more substantial collagen production deep within the dermal layer because the treatment triggers a wound healing response, making it particularly effective for addressing issues like hyperpigmentation.

microdermabrasion before and after collagen induction
Credit: Divabikini, New York, NY
microneedling before and after collagen induction
Credit: Celebrity Skin Scottsdale, AZ

Skin Rejuvenation 

Microdermabrasion rejuvenates the skin by exfoliating the upper skin layer, resulting in a smoother, healthier-looking surface. Microneedling rejuvenates the skin by stimulating a wound-healing response, leading to new collagen growth and skin cell turnover, which naturally improves skin texture, tone, and complexion.

microdermabrasion skin rejuvenation before and after
Credit: Midwest Vein Center, Chesterfield, MO
microneedling before and after rejuvenation
Credit: Dermapen, US

Aftercare for Each Treatment

Microdermabrasion Aftercare

  • After your microdermabrasion treatment, it’s crucial to keep your skin clean and properly hydrated. A gentle cleanser and moisturizer are advised.
  • For about a week post-treatment, avoid direct sun exposure. If you must be outside, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 to protect your treated skin.
  • Give your skin a few days to settle before you apply makeup. Using makeup too soon might cause irritation and clog your open pores.
  • Avoid other skin treatments such as chemical peels, waxing, or tanning for around a week after the procedure.

Microneedling Aftercare

  • Following microneedling, keep your skin clean and do not apply anything to the area for the first 24 hours, except the post-procedure skincare products recommended by your skincare specialist.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure for 2-3 days after the treatment. Once you can go out in the sun, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect the freshly treated skin.
  • Wait 24-48 hours before you put on makeup again. Applying makeup too soon could clog the microchannels created during the procedure and cause adverse reactions.
  • Avoid strenuous exercises, saunas, and hot baths for at least 48 hours as sweating can potentially cause a tingling sensation and irritation.

Potential Side Effects of Microdermabrasion Compared to Microneedling

Microdermabrasion Side Effects

Microdermabrasion is considered safe for most skin types. However, like any procedure, it might display some side effects:

  • Skin Redness: The most common side effect is temporary skin redness, which usually disappears after a few hours.
  • Skin Sensitivity: Your skin may feel tender and sensitive to touch immediately after the procedure.
  • Dry or Flaking Skin: This is a natural part of the skin’s healing process as it regenerates new, healthy skin cells.

Microneedling Side Effects

While microneedling is a generally safe procedure, some potential side effects might occur:

  • Redness and Irritation: These are the most common side effects. Your skin will look and feel somewhat sunburned for a day or two after the procedure.
  • Swelling and Discomfort: Some people might experience minor swelling, bruising, or discomfort post-treatment.
  • Skin Sensation: Your skin will likely feel tight and sensitive to the touch after treatment.
  • Infection Risk: While the risk is low, any procedure that causes trauma to the skin comes with a slight risk of infection. Keeping the skin clean after the procedure can help prevent this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I do microneedling and microdermabrasion on the same day?

It’s generally not advisable to perform both treatments on the same day, as it could be too harsh for the skin and lead to irritation or inflammation. However, a skincare professional may suggest a series of both, appropriately spaced out for best results.

Which is more effective, microdermabrasion or microneedling?

Both are effective treatments, but for different skin concerns. Microdermabrasion is more effective for superficial skin issues like mild acne scars, sun spots, and dull skin. In contrast, microneedling is more effective for deeper skin issues such as severe acne scars, deep wrinkles, and significant sun damage.

How often should I get microdermabrasion or microneedling?

Typically, microdermabrasion can be done more frequently – every 2 to 4 weeks, while microneedling treatments are usually spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart for optimal results. However, the exact frequency should be determined by a skincare professional based on your individual skin type and needs.

Can I do microdermabrasion or microneedling at home?

Home kits for both treatments are available, but the effectiveness, safety, and results may not be the same as when the procedure is performed by a professional. Also, poorly performed treatments may lead to skin damage. Thus, it is highly recommended to get these procedures done by certified professionals.

Are these procedures painful?

Microdermabrasion is painless. Microneedling may cause some discomfort, but a topical anesthetic cream is usually applied before the procedure to minimize any pain.

What is the recovery time?

With microdermabrasion, the recovery is rapid, and most people can return to their normal activities immediately. With microneedling, the skin might appear red and feel sunburned for a couple of days, but most people can also return to their usual activities within a day.

What is the difference between microneedling and microdermabrasion?

Microneedling involves using a microneedling pen to create tiny punctures in the skin, promoting collagen induction and skin rejuvenation. Microdermabrasion, on the other hand, exfoliates the skin using a mechanical device to remove dead skin cells.

How do microneedling and microdermabrasion treatments benefit the skin?

Microneedling stimulates collagen production, leading to improved skin tone and texture, while microdermabrasion helps in removing dead skin cells and revealing a newer, more youthful skin layer.

Is microneedling a more invasive procedure compared to microdermabrasion?

No, microneedling is considered a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure, whereas microdermabrasion is non-invasive, making it suitable for various skin types and conditions.

What skin issues can be addressed through microneedling and microdermabrasion?

Both procedures can help with uneven skin tone, acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles, but microneedling is particularly effective for collagen induction therapy and deeper skin rejuvenation.

How many sessions of microdermabrasion are typically needed to see desired results?

For optimal results, it is recommended to undergo a series of microdermabrasion sessions, usually ranging from 5-12 treatments, depending on the skin condition and desired outcomes.

Can microneedling be performed on both the face and body?

Yes, microneedling is a versatile treatment that can be safely performed on various parts of the body, including the face, neck, décolletage, and even areas with stretch marks or scarring.

When should I consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon for microneedling or microdermabrasion?

It is advisable to consult a qualified dermatologist or plastic surgeon before undergoing microneedling or microdermabrasion, especially if you have specific skin concerns or medical conditions that need professional evaluation.

Making your choice

When choosing between microdermabrasion and microneedling, consider your specific skin condition and desired outcomes. Microdermabrasion offers instant results for improving skin texture, superficial scars, and mild pigmentation issues, with minimal recovery time. Conversely, microneedling is ideal for addressing deeper skin concerns like severe acne scars, wrinkles, stretch marks, and sun damage, though it requires longer recovery and yields more significant, long-lasting results by stimulating deep skin repair through increased collagen production.

Consulting with a skincare specialist is essential to determine the best non-surgical treatment for your skin type and needs. While both procedures have benefits and potential side effects, your individual response may vary. Additionally, maintaining results necessitates a dedicated skincare routine, including a healthy diet, hydration, sunscreen use, and quality skincare products, ensuring long-term skin health and radiance.