Cosmetic Medicine / Plastic Surgery Dermatology

What to know about microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure. It involves a skin care specialist removing the top layer of skin with a small hand-held device.

Microdermabrasion can exfoliate the skin, reduce signs of aging, and make the skin appear more even. The procedure is safe a person with any skin color.

A healthcare professional usually performs the procedure, but some stores sell at-home kits.

In this article, we will take a detailed look at microdermabrasion and its effects. We will also describe how to prepare, the possible side effects, and the differences between this procedure and dermabrasion.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion can reduce the signs of aging.

Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive cosmetic procedure. The specialist sprays or rubs fine crystals onto the skin with a wand that gently exfoliates the surface, removing the top layer. The aim is to make the skin appear younger.

The procedure should not be painful. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimate that it takes 30–40 minutes for the face and 20 minutes for the neck. Afterward, there may be slight swelling or sunburn-like symptoms for a few days.

Before seeing reduced signs of aging, a person may require between 5 and 16 treatments from a skin care specialist.

People can have treatments weekly, every 2 weeks, or monthly, depending on their skin type and the reason for treatment.

Most people request microdermabrasion to rejuvenate the complexion of the face and neck, but a specialist can perform the procedure on any area of skin.

The results are not permanent.


Uses and benefits

The goal of microdermabrasion is to make a person’s complexion smoother, brighter, and more even in color.

People often request microdermabrasion to address:

  • dullness in the complexion
  • uneven skin tone
  • uneven skin texture
  • age spots
  • dark spots that can form after acne clears up
  • melasma, a common issue that forms dark spots or patches on the skin
  • scars

Dermatologists may also use microdermabrasion to enhance the results of anti-aging or skin-bleaching products. The procedure can help these products penetrate the skin.


Microdermabrasion vs. dermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is less invasive than dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion uses more intensive methods to remove the top layer of skin. A dermatologist may recommend dermabrasion for acne scars, scars from accidents or surgery, or to remove tattoos.

Dermabrasion is only suitable for people with fair skin. Microdermabrasion can be suitable for people with any skin color.


How to prepare

Patient speaking with dermatologist
Dermatologists usually offer people a consultation prior to microdermabrasion.

Speak to a healthcare professional before undergoing microdermabrasion. Dermatologists usually offer prior consultations.

The AAD recommend that people ask about the following before committing to the procedure:

  • what results to expect
  • the number of treatments needed
  • potential side effects
  • risk factors
  • the cost of the treatments

People can also ask to see before-and-after photos and to speak with someone who has undergone microdermabrasion at the clinic.

A dermatologist will usually examine a person’s skin during the consultation to ensure that microdermabrasion is appropriate.

Risks and side effects of microdermabrasion

People who have taken the acne medicine isotretinoin in the past 6 months may need to wait before having microdermabrasion. They have an increased risk of complications such as scarring.

Speak to a doctor about any spot or patch of skin that is growing, bleeding, or changing in any way. These issues can indicate skin cancer.

For a few days after microdermabrasion, a person may notice:

  • skin swelling
  • skin redness, similar to sunburn
  • bruising
  • a burning or stinging sensation
  • increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight

After the procedure, use sun protection. This will help to ensure the best results and reduce the risk of side effects. Microdermabrasion may not be suitable for people who scar easily or have cold sore breakouts.


Recovery time

Most people do not need time to recover after microdermabrasion. If a person does experience side effects, they tend to disappear after a few days.

In the majority of people, the skin will recover enough for another microdermabrasion session within a week.

Cost of microdermabrasion

According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of microdermabrasion in 2017 was $137.

Prices vary, depending on:

  • the expertise and qualifications of the specialist
  • the number of sessions
  • the type of microdermabrasion
  • the location of the clinic, for example, within the United States

Even if a dermatologist performs the procedure, an insurance provider does not usually cover the cost.


Can you do microdermabrasion at home?

Many home microdermabrasion kits are available in stores or online. Spas and salons also offer the procedure.

The AAD advise people to speak to a dermatologist before undergoing the procedure outside a clinical setting.

This is to ensure that the person’s skin is suitable for microdermabrasion and that they are not likely to experience complications. They will also tell the person how to deal with any side effects that may arise.


Summary

Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure. The aim is to make a person’s complexion more even and smooth in texture and color.

It usually requires a series of sessions, during which a specialist removes the top layer of skin with a small hand-held device.

Many people use microdermabrasion to reduce the visible effects of aging or to eliminate patches left by acne.

The procedure is noninvasive, but it can cause side effects. These include burning, stinging and swelling, as well as increased sensitivity to sunlight.

A dermatologist or skin care specialist usually performs microdermabrasion, though home kits are available. Always speak to a dermatologist before undergoing microdermabrasion outside a clinic.

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