How to Choose Between Chemical Peels, Microdermabrasion and Laser?

I am unsure what route to go down whether to have a Chemical peel, Microdermabrasion or laser treatment. Here is my self assessment of my skin: I have light acne scarring, some discoloration, redness around nose and a little on cheeks, and pores could be made smaller. Which among the mentioned treatments will work best on my problems? Thanks in advance!

Doctor Answers 12

How to Decide Between Chemical Peel, Laser or Microdermabrasion

You should do either a medium depth chemical peel (35%TCA) or Erbium Laser Resurfacing. I am assuming you are a pure caucasian. Do it in winter when sun is not out much and practice strict sun protection

After you recover, start Sculptra injections on the face in the areas of acne scarring.


Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Microdermabrasion vs Peels vs Lasers

Each of these modalities have a role and it depends on several factors which is best for you. First you must be seen by an experienced physician who will evacuate your skin - the amount of sun damage, pore size, depth of acne scarring, skin texture and color, wrinkles, furrows, smoking habits, sun exposure, etc. He/she should discuss with you your goals and expectations and then advise a treatment plan based on all of this. (Certainly a medical history is mandatory as well). Although a series of microdermabrasions may improve your skin, it is likely that you may want or eventually do something more intense such as peels or laser treatments. Again, you must discuss the pros and cons of each of these with your physician. Do not be afraid to ask what their laser experience is, see pictures and possible talk with patients that have had the proposed procedures done. The Fraxel laser (both re:Store and re:Pair) are very good for your problems with the re:Pair better for acne scarring. So, sometimes the end result is the same but it may take longer to get there with certain treatments or cost more. Regardless, you must also be seen by a medical aesthetician to establish a skin care program which will help to maintain whatever you achieve.

Theodore Katz, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Peels versus Microdermabrasion Versus Laser

A photo or in office consultation is truly the only way to really assess the problem.  It sounds like you may need a combination of treatments.  The V-Beam laser is the gold standard for treating redness, the acne scars can best be treated with eMatrix or Fraxel depending on your skin type as well as pigmentation. Please consult a board certified dermatologist with expertise with lasers for the best cosmetic results.

Consultation Needed to Tailor Specific Treatments

A plastic surgeon or dermatologist trained Aestheticians and Medical Aestheticians need to work hand-in-hand to develop a successful skin care program and most important need to evaluate your specific skin problems and charactreristics to provide a program of treatments tailored to your needs.. Each offers different levels of services. Identification of those conditions requiring advanced services or medical products are key to the success of this program.
Clients with the following conditions should be referred to a medical aesthetician:
  1. Hyperpigmentation and irregular pigmentation, age spots
  2. Acne and its complications – e.g. scarring, hyperpigmentation, and large pores
  3. Rosacea
  4. Rhytides (Wrinkles) treatment
  5. Patients with medical conditions such as Diabetes, Exzema, history of cold sore, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, or steroid use
  6. Scar Management
  7. Previous chemical peel or laser treatment
  8. Severe sun damage (actinic changes of the skin)
  9. Plateau of results by conventional spa services requiring more aggressive medical based protocols
  10. Patients with a history of Skin Cancer or pre-cancers ( e.g. Actinic Keratosis, pigmented sores, or scaling lesions)

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 110 reviews

Which problem bothers you the most is the first question?

If you are on a budget, then microdermabrasion can have a slight effect on the temporary improvement of acne scars, but also help your discolouration. It can not treat redness around your nose and cheeks. 

Laser is a two step process, you can go thru either full laser ablation, or fractional, and it will improve your acne scars, and discoulouration, but you will need something like a vascular laser or IPL for redness. Laser can improve your pore size. 

Choosing a correct treatment for your particular problem is the way to go, not the other way around. 


DR Davin Lim 
Laser Dermatologist
Brisbane, Australia.

Davin Lim, MBBS, FACD
Brisbane Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Chemical peels, microdermabrasion or laser

  Do yourself a favor and don't try to choose the treatment modality.  Instead, make your effort be one of choosing a physican who listens to you and who is experienced in these various modalities, all of which may be effective in certain situations.  good luck!

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

You probably need all three: Laser, Chemical Peels, and Microdermabrasions

For acne scarred and discolored skin, you probably need a variety of treatments to get the best results. Lasers help with the scarring while chemical peels do better for discolorations. Microdermabrasions do good to maintain your complexion once you get it cleared up and the way you like it. Fraxel laser $1000 each; light chem peels $250 each; Microdermabrasions $100 each.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Have you considered other options first?

Have you considered trying products before using lasers and office procedures? My microdermabrasion treatment's convenient home formula provides the benefits of a spa treatment without ever leaving your home. An enriched blend of exfoliators gently but effectively sloughs off dull cells, frees pores of impurities, and helps correct environmental damage. Mechanically deep-cleans the skin with natural particles and AHA (alpha hydroxy acids), penetrating the surface for deep exfoliation. Restores, rejuvenates, and renews the skin without flaking. Check it out at

Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Peels, Lasers, dermabrasion

 Whether you choose a peel, a laser treatment or dermabrasion is a choice you make with your doctor.  All can give you the same results.  I personally think that the laser treatments can be more precise.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Peels versus Dermabrasion versus Laser

It all really depends on what is best for you skin. Based on your description, it sounds like you would benefit greatly from laser. However, without seeing you in person, it is hard to tell for sure. If you are looking for a mild change over time, then chemical peels may be better. If you want immediate and effective treatment and have time for recovery, then laser may be best. Good luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.