Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: What is the Difference & Which is Better?

Micro treatments like microdermabrasion and microneedling have gained popularity in the beauty industry, and this is not without reason. These two skincare procedures work effectively to treat many skin conditions like wrinkles, fine lines, and more.

They are quick, low-risk, and usually require little to no downtime to heal after treatment. Despite their high reward, many people are still curious about what to expect from these procedures—some even wonder which between the two methods is best for them.

In this article, we will compare these two skin treatment procedures. Here, you will learn:

  • Their main differences
  • How they work
  • What they are used for
  • Their costs
  • Number of treatments needed
  • Effectiveness

What’s the Main Differences Between Microdermabrasion and Microneedling?

Differences Between Microdermabrasion and Microneedling

Microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliating superficial treatment that uses a device with a rough surface to remove dirt, debris, and dead skin temporarily. The specialist uses a mechanical device and material like sodium bicarbonate crystals to remove the uneven outer layer. This will leave the skin surface exfoliated and well rejuvenated.

This procedure reduces the appearance of fine lines, stretch marks, sun damage, discoloration, and age spots.

On the other hand, Microneedling is a treatment done by a handheld device to trigger the skin’s healing process. This process is more beneficial than microdermabrasion because it involves penetrating the holes in the skin’s upper layer using tiny needles to stimulate collagen production.

The result is a more smooth, firm, and refined complexion. Microneedling best targets acne scarring, fine lines, stretch marks, open pores, and hyperpigmentation.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling – Understanding the Differences

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling - Understanding the Differences

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: How it Works


Since microdermabrasion is a non-invasive treatment, it causes little to no discomfort in the treatment area.

The lighter variation of microdermabrasion can be delivered at aesthetic spas or homes. However, you should consider the procedure performed by medical providers if you want more effective results.


In this minimally invasive treatment, the specialist uses a device to penetrate multiple ultra-fine needles on the skin. Initially, specialized used a derma roller, a small wheel device that contains fine needles. It works by rolling it on the skin surface, and it can create about 250 microscopic holes per square centimeter.

Today, most specialists use an automated pen to perform this treatment. This microneedling device uses disposable needle cartridges, offering better results than derma rollers. The tip of this device pushes tiny needles on the skin back and forth.

Overall, microneedling causes dermal and epidermal changes that significantly impact the skin’s appearance. However, the needles can cause discomfort on the skin. The specialist may apply numbing cream to the treatment area before the procedure for pain relief.

The needles can measure about 0.5 to 3 millimeters long. This, in turn, causes microscopic cuts on the skin that are responsible for epidermal activity and collagen production.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Used For

Microdermabrasion works similar to sanding the skin to eliminate top, old skin layers, leaving the skin exfoliated. It offers excellent benefits for those with:

  • Superficial blackheads
  • Acne
  • Sun damage
  • Discoloration
  • Stretch marks
  • Fines lines

Since microneedling penetrates deeper into the surface, it offers treatment for many skin conditions by improving collagen production. They include:

  • Acne scars
  • Wrinkles
  • Surgical scars
  • Enlarged pores
  • Burns

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Number of Treatments

Microdermabrasion is a temporary skin solution that requires multiple treatments of about 6 to 12 sessions to see improved results. The treatment should be repeated at an average interval of 2 to 4 weeks to notice skin improvement. This is because it takes approximately 30 days for the human skin to regenerate.

You may not see results from microneedling treatment after just one treatment session. This is because it may take 3 to 6 months for new collagen to grow after your treatment. You need nine months of treatment depending on your skin condition, type of treatment, and treatment area to get better results.

Usually, it is recommended to get 3 to 6 treatments in 2 to 6 weeks.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Cost

According to 2020 statistics done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a microdermabrasion treatment can cost $167 on average. This price does not include other related expenses and is only part of the total treatment cost.

All the costs involved in a microdermabrasion treatment may vary on various factors. The factors may include the type of procedure, the expertise of the specialist, your geographical location, and the time and effort required. A microdermabrasion procedure may require multiple sessions for optimal results and is not covered by insurance.

If you want to get a microneedling treatment, you may need to part with around $200 to $700 per session. Overall, you may spend anywhere from $600 to $4200, depending on the number of sessions you will need to get optimal results.

Typically, one may need three to six sessions. This treatment is not covered by insurance. Besides, the cost may be higher if the specialist uses platelet-rich plasma known as the vampire facial.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: How Long Does it Take?

Typically, a microdermabrasion procedure can take 15 to 30 minutes since it requires no anesthetics or surgery. The treatment will be done in less than 1 hour, making it an excellent choice for patients on the go. Besides being a quick procedure, it comes with very minimal risks.

When it comes to microneedling, the overall procedure can take about 30 minutes to perform. This method is reported to cause discomfort, which can vary from one person to another.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Recovery Time

A benefit of microdermabrasion is that it has no downtime. After a microdermabrasion treatment, it may take about 7 to 10 days to heal, depending on the extent of the treatment. Your skin, which may be temporary pink, may restore its color after 24 hours.

However, it may take about 24 hours to heal after a microneedling treatment. Nevertheless, you may experience complete recovery after 2 to 3 days, and you may need to wait for 4 to 6 weeks before you go for a follow-up treatment. After treatment, you can get back to your everyday life and even wear makeup after 24 hours of treatment.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Effectiveness

Microdermabrasion skin care treatment can help improve the appearance of skin-related conditions like wrinkles, fine lines, acre scarring, and sun damage.

Microneedling reaches below the skin surface and works effectively to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, stretch marks, and scars.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: How Long Does it Last?

The effects of microdermabrasion can last for about one month, depending on your skin condition. Hence, there is a need for frequent maintenance sessions.

On the other hand, Microneeding has lasting effects, and your results can last for about 3 to 5 months. It is recommended to schedule follow-up treatments at least twice a year to get effective results. It is also recommended to maintain a good beauty routine to preserve your results.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Possible Side Effect/Risk 

After a microdermabrasion treatment, you may get common side effects like swelling, redness, and mild tenderness. You may also experience minor bruising. These effects can typically go away after a few hours of treatment. To soothe and moisturize your skin, it is advisable to apply a protective cream.

Common side effects of microneedling include minor skin irritation and redness several days after the procedure. There is also the risk of severe side effects, including bleeding, peeling, bruising, and infection. What’s more, this treatment is not practical to use for individuals with active acne, keloid scarring, and active skin infection.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling: Is Insurance Coverage?

Since microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure, it is not covered in medical insurance.

Like microdermabrasion, microneedling is usually not covered by insurance since it is considered a cosmetic procedure.

Microdermabrasion vs. Microneedling:

A Quick Comparison Chart




Procedure Type:


Collagen Stimulation

Treatment Areas / Used For:

Scars, fine lines, pigmentation, wrinkles

Fine lines, stretch marks, wrinkles, scars, pigmentation


$167 on average

$200 to $700 per session

Number of Treatments:



Not Recommended For:

Individuals with diabetes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, sunburned skin, inflamed skin, allergic skin condition

Individuals with diabetes, pregnant and breastfeeding women, sunburned skin, inflamed skin, allergic skin condition

FDA Approved:



Treatment Time:

15-30 minutes

30 minutes

Recovery Time:

7-10 days

2-3 days

Results Last Time:

Smooth and brightened skin appearance

Younger looking skin with fewer aging signs

Pre Care:

Avoid skin peels, oily cleansers, lotions, retinoid creams, sun tanning

  • Apply numbing cream before the procedure;
  • Avoid skin peels, oily cleansers, lotions, retinoid creams, sun tanning

Post Care:

Apply aloe gel or cold compress

Apply antibacterial ointment, aloe gel, cold compress, anti-inflammatory medications

Insurance Coverage:



Invasiveness Level:


Minimally Invasive

Skin Layers Involved:


Epidermis and dermis

Microdermabrasion or Microneedling: Which is Better?

Microdermabrasion or Microneedling: Which is Better

Interestingly, both microdermabrasion and microneedling work to treat similar skin conditions. However, they use different methods; exfoliation for microdermabrasion and collagen stimulation for microneedling.

However, microdermabrasion may be a good choice if you want a safe and non-invasive skin treatment. On the other hand, microneedling works well for all skin types. Generally, your choice will depend on your skin needs.

Should You Get Microdermabrasion after Microneedling?

It is not advisable to get a microdermabrasion treatment after a microneedling treatment since both procedures work in different ways. Microneedling is puncturing your skin while microdermabrasion removes the top skin layer. Hence, doing the two procedures at the same time is not recommended.

It is not recommended to perform any of these procedures at home. Instead, they should be done by a trained medical professional.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, both microdermabrasion and microneedling are excellent skin treatment options. However, you should consider microdermabrasion if you want to exfoliate your skin surface in no time, while microneedling works effectively to stimulate every skin type.

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