Dermabrasion is a procedure in which the top layers of skin are removed. It’s used to smooth the skin and reduce the appearance of skin problems such as acne scars, fine wrinkles, or other similar skin problems. The traditional dermabrasion procedure goes down to a fairly deep layer of the skin, and is considered a surgical procedure. Microdermabrasion is a less-invasive form of the dermabrasion procedure, which carries less risk and recovery time.
In microdermabrasion, a special instrument is used to remove layers of skin. One such instrument works very much like a sandblaster. It shoots small particles over the skin, which are simultaneously removed (along with the removed pieces of skin) by a vacuum. Another instrument is more like the traditional dermabrasion tools; it uses a motorized tool with very fine diamonds imbedded in the tip, which is gently passed over the treated skin.
If you’re choosing microdermabrasion, make sure you’re choosing it because you really want it, not to please someone else or to fit an imagined ideal. No one else can make the choice for you; it’s your body, and you’re in charge of it. After you do your research and understand the procedure, if you believe that microdermabrasion is right for you, then proceed. To help you in your decision-making process, we have some information about the risks and benefits of having microdermabrasion at Microdermabrasion: Risks and Benefits.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective procedure with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the doctor who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
How it’s done
Microdermabrasion does not target deeper layers of skin as traditional dermabrasion does, so it is not as painful and anesthesia is usually unnecessary. Your technician or doctor will use one of the two microdermabrasion tools described above, passing it over the treated area until the desired effect is reached. You will feel the tool on your skin, and it may feel scratchy, but should not be particularly painful.
Preparing for the procedure
Choosing your doctor
While cosmetic dermatology procedures may be offered at spas and beauty salons, they’re actually technical procedures that should be performed by qualified medical professionals. Your provider should have the degree MD (Medical Doctor), or should be an RN (Registered Nurse) or PA (Physician’s Assistant) who is under the direct supervision of an MD. Ideally, this doctor should be trained and board-certified in either plastic surgery or dermatology.
When you go to a doctor’s clinic for microdermabrasion, be aware that the doctor whose name is on the clinic may not be directly involved in your treatment; you may never even meet him or her. Sometimes, the doctor doesn’t even stay at the clinic during the day! For safety reasons, it’s best to have an MD on-site who has examined you personally. This is because while the risks from these procedures are small, adverse reactions can and do happen, so you want someone present who can deal with problems if they do arise. When you call to schedule an appointment, ask who will be performing the procedure and whether a qualified physician will be present in the clinic during the procedure.
For more help in your search for a cosmetic dermatologist, visit our How to Find the Best Cosmetic Dermatologist page. At Doctor Review, you can also search providers for patient reviews to help you find the very best.
Getting ready for the procedure
There is typically no need to condition the skin prior to microdermabrasion. You should not wear makeup to your microdermabrasion procedure.
Microdermabrasion is a minimally-invasive procedure, so the recovery is relatively easy. This is somewhat in contrast to traditional dermabrasion, which results in the skin being red and irritated for several days or weeks following the procedure. Microdermabrasion usually results in the skin being red and swollen for a few hours after the procedure. Your skin may then be flaky for several days, and will be more sensitive to sunlight, so sun protection will be particularly important. You may be recommended special moisturizers or other skin conditioners to enhance the effects of the treatment on your skin.