Dermal morphological changes following salicylic acid peeling and microdermabrasion

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):e9-e14. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12315. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Background: Microdermabrasion and chemical peeling are popular, inexpensive, and safe methods for treatment of some skin disorders and to rejuvenate skin.

Objectives: To study the alterations of the dermal connective tissue following salicylic acid peeling and microdermabrasion.

Methods: Twenty patients were participated in our study. All participants underwent facial salicylic acid 30% peel or microdermabrasion (10 cases in each group) weekly for 6 weeks. Punch biopsies were obtained from the clinically normal skin of the right postauricular region 1 week before treatment (control group). Other punch skin biopsies were obtained 1 week after the end of the treatments from the left postauricular area. This region was treated in a similar way to the adjacent lesional skin (treated group). We used routine histological techniques (H&E stain), special stains (Masson trichrome and orcein stains), and image analyzer to study the alterations of the dermal connective tissues.

Results: Our study demonstrates variations in the morphological changes between the control and the treated groups, and between chemical peels and microdermabrasion. Both salicylic acid 30% and microdermabrasion were associated with thickened epidermal layer, shallow dermal papillae, dense collagen, and elastic fibers. There was a significant increase among those treated sites vs control regarding epidermal thickness and collagen thickness. Also, there was a highly statistically significant increase among those treated with salicylic acid vs microdermabrasion regarding the epidermal, collagen, and elastin thickness.

Conclusions: Both methods stimulate the repair process. The mechanisms underlying these variations are open for further investigations.

Keywords: chemical peeling; collagen fibers; elastic fibers; microdermabrasion; salicylic acid peel.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Chemexfoliation*
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Dermabrasion*
  • Dermis / pathology*
  • Elastic Tissue / pathology
  • Elastin / ultrastructure
  • Epidermis / pathology*
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Salicylic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Collagen
  • Elastin
  • Salicylic Acid