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What Is Microdermabrasion?

By December 27, 2021May 1st, 2022Skin

Definition, Benefits, and Risks

M icrodermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that is performed by a dermatologist to remove the superficial skin layer in order to cleanse and exfoliate the skin, get rid of the aging signs, and improve the overall appearance of the skin. The procedure is performed using a small device by healthcare professionals. However, at-home kits are available in stores and the procedure can be performed at home.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about microdermabrasion including its benefits, how to prepare yourself for the procedure, the risks and side effects, and other information.

What Is Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure that can help you to get rid of the aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles. The procedure is performed using a wand to spray fine crystals onto the targeted areas to cleanse and exfoliate the skin and remove its superficial layer in order to make the skin appear younger and fresher. (1)

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the process usually takes between 30 to 40 minutes when performed on the face and another 20 minutes on the neck. In most cases, it is not painful, but swelling and sunburn-like symptoms are expected for the next few days after the procedure. (2)

5 to 16 sessions of treatment from a dermatologist or a professional skincare specialist may be required before seeing actual results.

You can have the treatment sessions weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. The interval between sessions depends on many factors such as your skin type and why you are getting the procedure.

Most people use this procedure as a treatment for their face and neck areas. However, the procedure can actually be performed on any skin area.
Also, the results are not permanent and you will need to continue the treatment sessions to maintain them. (3)

What Are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?

The main concept of microdermabrasion is to smoothen the person’s skin, make it brighter and more even in color, and improve its overall appearance.

In most cases, people use this procedure to solve the following issues:

  • Complexion dullness.
  • Uneven skin tone and/or texture.
  • Aging signs such as fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Dark spots left on the face when acne is healed.
  • scars
  • Melasma, which is a common skin issue where dark patches are formed on certain skin areas.

Dermatologists and skin care specialists usually use this procedure to improve the final results of skincare products, especially anti-aging and skin-bleaching products since the procedure can enhance the ability of the skin to absorb these products. (4)

What Is the Difference between Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion procedure is more invasive than microdermabrasion since it depends on using more intensive techniques to remove the superficial layer of the skin. Therefore, it is recommended for people who suffer from scars after major surgeries or accidents or to remove severe acne scars or tattoos.

In addition, microdermabrasion is suitable for all skin colors while dermabrasion is recommended for people with fair skin only. (5)

Figure 1 -Female subject with uneven skin texture and hyperchromic skin treated by microdermabrasion. Photographs were taken at baseline (left) and after eight weekly treatments (right)

How to Get Prepared for Microdermabrasion?

It is essential to discuss the procedure with your dermatologist first and see if you are a candidate or not. Most dermatologists offer consultations before microdermabrasion or any other similar procedure. (6)
Before deciding, you should ask the following questions.

  • What are the expected results?
  • How many numbers of sessions are needed to reach the desired results?
  • Are there any side effects or risk factors I should be aware of?
  • What is the total cost of the treatments?
  • Can I speak with someone who has undergone a microdermabrasion procedure at this hospital or clinic?
  • Do you have any before-and-after pictures of people who have undergone the procedure here?

During the first or second visit, your dermatologist may examine your skin or take your medical record including your past cosmetic procedure and surgeries in addition to any allergies or chronic medical conditions to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

Since it is a non-surgical procedure, there is not much you can do before it.

Also, your doctor may order you to avoid excessive sun exposure, tanning, and exfoliating creams, masks, and waxing for a few days before the procedure.

You should also remove your makeup and cleanse your face before the procedure. (7)

What Are the Potential Risks and Side Effects of Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is not recommended for people who have been treating their acne using isotretinoin in the last 6 months and they have to wait for a while before the procedure since this medication increases the risk of severe complications, especially scarring. (8)

If you have any spots or skin patches that are growing, bleeding, or abnormally changing in any way, you should inform your doctor.

After a few days of the procedure, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Skin swelling and/or bruising.
  • Sunburn-like skin redness.
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the treated areas.
  • Increased skin sensitivity to light, especially sunlight.

Figure 2 – Female subject with fine rhytides treated by microdermabrasion. Photographs were taken at baseline (left) and after
eight weekly treatments (right).

What is the Recovery Time of Microdermabrasion?

In most cases, no recovery time is required after the procedure. Even if any side effects appear, they usually go away after a few days. The skin will be ready for the following treatment session with a week. (9)

What Is the Cost of Microdermabrasion?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a single microdermabrasion session is $137.

These prices vary depending on many factors including the total number of treatment sessions needed, the level of experience of the dermatologist or skincare specialist, the microdermabrasion procedure type, and your location.

Notice that your health insurance policy will not cover the costs of the procedure unless it is part of your treatment plan. (10)

Can Microdermabrasion Be Done at Home?

Many online stores sell home microdermabrasion kits. Besides, some spas and salons offer the procedure.

If you are going to undergo the procedure outside a medical facility, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist first and make sure that the procedure is suitable for your skin and there will not be any severe side effects or complications. Also, the dermatologist can show you how to deal with any side effects that may occur. (11)

Citations:

  1. Shah M, Crane JS. Microdermabrasion. [Updated 2021 Jul 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535383/
  2. Karimipour, D. J., Karimipour, G., & Orringer, J. S. (2010). Microdermabrasion: an evidence-based review. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 125(1), 372–377. https://doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181c2a583
  3. El-Domyati, M., Hosam, W., Abdel-Azim, E., Abdel-Wahab, H., & Mohamed, E. (2016). Microdermabrasion: a clinical, histometric, and histopathologic study. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 15(4), 503–513. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12252
  4. Spencer J. M. (2005). Microdermabrasion. American journal of clinical dermatology, 6(2), 89–92. https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200506020-00003
  5. Alkhawam, L., & Alam, M. (2009). Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion. Facial plastic surgery : FPS, 25(5), 301–310. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0029-1243078
  6. Shah, M., & Crane, J. S. (2021). Microdermabrasion. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  7. Shpall, R., Beddingfield, F. C., 3rd, Watson, D., & Lask, G. P. (2004). Microdermabrasion: a review. Facial plastic surgery : FPS, 20(1), 47–50. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2004-822958
  8. Fernandes, M., Pinheiro, N. M., Crema, V. O., & Mendonça, A. C. (2014). Effects of microdermabrasion on skin rejuvenation. Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology, 16(1), 26–31. https://doi.org/10.3109/14764172.2013.854120
  9. Shim, E. K., Barnette, D., Hughes, K., & Greenway, H. T. (2001). Microdermabrasion: a clinical and histopathologic study. Dermatologic surgery : official publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.], 27(6), 524–530. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1524-4725.2001.01001.x
  10. Andrews SN, Zarnitsyn V, Bondy B, Prausnitz MR. Optimization of microdermabrasion for controlled removal of stratum corneum. Int J Pharm. 2011;407(1-2):95-104. doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2011.01.034
  11. Coimbra, M., Rohrich, R. J., Chao, J., & Brown, S. A. (2004). A prospective controlled assessment of microdermabrasion for damaged skin and fine rhytides. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 113(5), 1438–1444. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.prs.0000113026.94292.0b