One of the more popular facial rejuvenating treatments today is the micro peel. It is a superficial chemical peel which can smooth and soften your skin, brighten your complexion, minimize pore size, and reduce discoloration, all with no social down time.  

This simple 30-minute procedure should not be confused with the micro laser peel which is a more invasive therapy requiring 48-72 hours of down time. Both procedures aim to exfoliate the skin for regrowth of dermal cells; however, laser peels work beyond the surface and can require preparation, medications, and down time for healing.

Micro peels are the lightest of all chemical peels and, because they work on the outer surface, are standardly not painful. The procedure uses lactic and glycolic acids which are naturally occurring alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) found in fruits and other foods.

What are the benefits?

Micro peels are an effective adjunct to skincare, and expedite the results that can be achieved through skin care alone.  Because they are more potent, they offer significant advantage over skin care products, and without recovery time. A micro peel will improve your skin texture, color and overall appearance as well as decrease the apparent size of your pores. Many experience improvement of small, superficial wrinkles as well.

How does the procedure work?

First, dead skin cells are gently removed through a painless technique called dermaplaning, which is similar to shaving.  The AHA solution, usually between 20% and 50%, depending on your skin type, is brushed on and remains for approximately 10 minutes.  You may experience mild, temporary stinging and itching.  Then stimulants such as dry ice are applied, followed by moisturizing cream.  Immediately following your micro peel, you can return to your usual activities.  

The extent of the exfoliation depends on the type and concentration of the AHA. At high concentrations, AHAs function as peeling agents which act more rapidly and at a deeper level.

The skin rejuvenates for up to six weeks after each treatment. The procedure is safe to do on a regular basis; monthly treatments create a constant turnover of dead cells, so skin looks and feels fresher.

Are there disadvantages?

As long as your expectations are realistic, there are few disadvantages. A micro peel will not improve dynamic or skin fold wrinkles. If you have thin, sensitive skin, you may have redness for one to two days following the treatment. If this occurs, a lower concentration of solution can be used for subsequent treatments.

Because of their simplicity, safety, effectiveness and low cost, physician supervised micro peels have become very popular. The benefits are significant, the risks negligible, and the costs affordable.

Kymberly Whitaker is a member of the Society of Plastic Surgical Skin Care Specialists and a medical esthetician in the office of Maja Ruetschi, MD, FACS. She can be reached at (760) 340.1199.

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Comments (5)

  • Thank you or your article “What are Micro Peels?” by Kymberly Whitaker, Plastic Surgery Skin Care Specialist. Can she explain little bit more about if there is any difference between micro peel & herbal or fruit enzymes like coconut papaya or lemon zest or the others. If yes what is? Thank you or the answer. I would prefer to e-mail me the difference.

    Thank you. She wrote a great article about Micro Peeling and benefits, great and very simple to understand.

    • Dear Mila,

      Our Micro Peel is a combination of both a physical ( dermaplaning) and chemical exfoliation(acid application) although aha’s and bha’s are derived from fruits they are also mixed into chemical compounds which penetrate the skin much quicker, then your over the counter fruit enzyme peels or masks.

  • Maja S. Ruetschi MD

    I will pass on your question to Kymberly- there is a big difference between the peel we use here
    and the ones you mention.
    I am sure Kymberly will be happy to go into more detail about those peels with you.
    Dr. Ruetschi

  • What is the difference in a chemical peel and Micro peel ? and which is better
    my skin concern is
    I had extreme acne last and finally recovered from that extreme acne phase.
    however now I have Red spots/scars that almost look like acne itself.
    I want to get rid of this and get a clear complexion.
    Thank you :)


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