Microdermabrasion at a glance
- Microdermabrasion is a mechanical means of exfoliating the skin, which gently removes dead cells and stimulates new cell growth.
- Microdermabrasion usually involves applying tiny crystals to the skin and suctioning them off along with the dead skin.
- It is sometimes called a “lunchtime facial” because treatments last less than an hour, requiring virtually no downtime for the patient.
- Since the skin regenerates, microdermabrasion treatments are temporary and need to be repeated every two to four weeks to maintain optimal results.
- Microdermabrasion is a relatively low-cost, painless and quick skin rejuvenating treatment.
What is microdermabrasion?
The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis, has many layers of cells. As old cells rise to the surface of the skin, they eventually are sloughed off and new cells are regenerated. Human skin typically regenerates every 28 days, although this process does slow with age.
Microdermabrasion is an efficient, mechanical way to exfoliate the skin, meaning to remove old dead skin cells. (When chemicals are used to exfoliate the skin, it’s called a “chemical peel.”)
Microdermabrasion (“microderm” or “lunchtime facial”) gently removes the dead skin cells, stimulating underlying skin cell growth and improving the overall look and feel of skin. It also encourages production of collagen, which is a protein that makes the skin look smooth and tight. Collagen production reduces with age.
Prior to the treatment, a patient’s skin is prepared by thoroughly cleansing to remove all oils, makeup, and impurities. No anesthesia is required but the surgeon may offer a shot to numb the area treated.
During the treatment, the surgeon directs a stream of tiny crystals or diamond flakes through a hand piece, or wand, that is placed against the skin. The crystals exfoliate the skin, and the mild suction created by the microdermabrasion wand removes the skin debris and crystals.
While painless, the patient may experience a slight warming or tingling sensation. The procedure can last anywhere from five minutes to an hour, and many patients have it done during a break from work.
Multiple treatments are suggested to see significant improvement. Patients will notice an immediate improvement after one treatment, usually in the skin’s tone and color. With repeated treatments, microdermabrasion may reduce light scars, age spots and fine lines.
Since the skin regenerates, microdermabrasion results are temporary. For continued improvement, treatments can be repeated as frequently as every week or up to every eight weeks, depending on the patient’s skin tolerance and desired outcomes.
Microdermabrasion is a relatively low-cost, safe, and quick skin rejuvenating treatment. Multiple treatments in combination with sunscreen, sun avoidance and other skin-care creams yield best results.
It should not be confused with dermabrasion, which is a surgical procedure to remove deeper scars.
Who is a good candidate for microdermabrasion?
Patients wanting to improve superficial skin imperfections with an efficient and fast treatment that suits their hectic lifestyles may want to consider microdermabrasion. It works well on all skin types (all skin colors as well as dry, oily or combination skin types). Patients hoping to improve the following conditions may be good candidates for microdermabrasion:
- Mild age spots or sun damage
- Fine facial lines or wrinkles
- Uneven pigmentation
- Acne, acne scars and blackheads
- Clogged pores
- Minor scars
- Skin texture problems.
Microdermabrasion requires virtually no recovery time compared with other cosmetic procedures. Most patients return immediately to their normal activities after a session.
After microdermabrasion treatment, the skin may show signs of mild redness but returns to normal within 24 hours.
Risks and side effects of microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion risks are minimal and temporary, including increased skin sensitivity and risk of sunburn. Patients are advised to avoid direct sunlight after treatment and to always use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or above when outdoors.
As with any procedure, there is an increased risk of infection if the treatment is not properly performed.