Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How are dermabrasion and microdermabrasion performed?

Since dermabrasion is a surgical procedure, local anesthesia is required and is occasionally supplemented by intravenous sedation. When the skin is appropriately numb, an abrasive device is applied to the skin. This device could be a rapidly rotating wire brush or a diamond encrusted wheel or even abrasive screening. The choice depends on the anatomical location as well as the particular area to be treated. A refrigerant spray is often used to reduce the movement of the skin during the procedure. The ability to perform this procedure is very dependent on the skill and experience of the operator.

Microdermabrasion involves spraying an inert crystalline material with sufficient force to dislodge superficial skin cells without damaging the deeper layers of living cells. Aside from this superficial debridement, it produces mild inflammation.

What should people expect after dermabrasion and microdermabrasion?

The wound produced by dermabrasion, like any other wound, must be kept clean and moist. Gentle removal of crust and debris can occur after removal of the postoperative dressing (usually 24 to 48 hours after the procedure). Petroleum jelly is generally applied to the wound surface frequently. Healing usually occurs within 10 days and redness dwindles after three to six weeks.

Since microdermabrasion does not produce a wound, there is no postoperative issue aside from mild redness.

Are there any adverse side effects with dermabrasion and microdermabrasion?

As with any surgical procedure, infections can occur and these are treated with antibiotics. Undesirable color is more common in darkly pigmented individuals. Keloids and hypertrophic scars can occur, especially in patients with a genetic predisposition to scar.

Microdermabrasion has few side effects, but it is prudent to avoid treating patients who are taking isotretinoin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2015

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