Microdermabrasion

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Alai is an actively practicing medical and surgical dermatologist in south Orange County, California. She has been a professor of dermatology and family medicine at the University of California, Irvine since 2000. She is U.S. board-certified in dermatology, a 10-year-certified fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.

  • 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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Who should consider microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is somewhat useful for people with dull or sallow skin, mild acne, acne discoloration, pick marks, and very superficial acne scars. Microdermabrasion may be a good treatment option for patients with superficial skin problems and busy lifestyles who are looking for minimal benefits with virtually no side effects or downtime. Individuals with deeper acne scars may expect a much longer series of treatments or likely benefit from physician-performed surgical dermabrasion, chemical peeling or laser resurfacing.

How does microdermabrasion work?

Traditionally, a crystal microdermabrasion system contains a pump, a connecting tube, a hand piece, and a vacuum. While the pump creates a high-pressure stream of inert crystals, such as aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide, sodium chloride, and sodium bicarbonate, to abrade the skin, the vacuum removes the crystals and exfoliated skin cells. Alternatively, the inert crystals can be replaced by a roughened surface of the tip in the diamond microdermabrasion system.

Unlike the crystal microdermabrasion system, the diamond microdermabrasion machine does not produce particles from crystals that may be inhaled into a patient's nose or blown into the eyes. Hence, diamond microdermabrasion is safer for use on areas around the eyes and lips. Generally, the slower the movement of the hand piece against the skin and the more numbers of passes over the skin, the deeper the treatment.

What ages are appropriate for microdermabrasion?

While there are no specific age or sex restrictions, typically children over age 12 up to adults age 65 can get microdermabrasion. While there is no age maximum, mature skin over age 70 may have slightly higher risks of bruising and skin abrasions. Individuals younger than age 12 may sometimes also receive treatment under the care of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2015

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