Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are dermabrasion and microdermabrasion?

Dermabrasion produces substantial changes the appearance of the skin by damaging it in a controlled manner. Dermabrasion is most often used to treat certain types of scarring and aged skin. Other options that produce similar results include laser resurfacing, moderate to deep skin peels, and the injection of fillers. Most often the facial skin is treated, but skin at any site can be treated. Dermabrasion is performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons.

Microdermabrasion is a nonsurgical technique that affects only the superficial dead layer of the skin, producing transient changes. Microdermabrasion is often administered by nonphysician professionals.

Who is a candidate for dermabrasion and microdermabrasion?

Dermabrasion produces changes by carefully controlling the depth of skin damage. This produces a wound that heals in a manner that is cosmetically superior to what was there originally. The problems that seem to respond best to this approach include acne scarring, keloids, traumatic scars, rhinophyma (nose enlargement in rosacea), wrinkles, tattoo removal, and actinic keratoses (very early stage of skin cancer). Currently there are other available modalities, including laser resurfacing, which are more popular. Lighter-skinned individuals generally get more reliable results because they are less likely to hyperpigment. Patients who have recently been treated with isotretinoin (Accutane) should avoid dermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion is a technique that affects only the most superficial layer of the skin. This layer is composed of dead horny cells which are exfoliated by this procedure. This procedure is safe for most people because it dose not produce any significant damage to the skin. Patients who have an active skin disease such as acne should not receive treatment to the affected skin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/25/2013