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Reasons to Have One, What to Expect, Associated Risks & More

6 Reasons You Could Need Microdermabrasion

1. Reduce Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Fine lines and wrinkles can make some people feel and look older than their true age. Wrinkles may develop as part of the natural aging process, or from repetitive facial expressions such as smiling and frowning. Smoking and exposure to UV rays are other factors that may contribute to fine lines and wrinkles. Microdermabrasion removes the outer layer of skin to smooth and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.[1]

2. Treat Uneven Skin Tone

Uneven skin tone, or patchy skin color, can be caused by factors such as inflammation, sun exposure, heat, and injury.[2] Microdermabrasion can sand down areas on the skin that have patchy and uneven skin tone to expose a newer layer of skin that matches the color around it.[1]

3. Brighten Dull Skin

Smoking, excess alcohol intake, and poor nutrition are all factors that may cause your skin to look dull and unhealthy. Microdermabrasion removes the top layer of dull skin to reveal lighter and brighter skin underneath.[3]

4. Smooth Dry, Rough Skin

Factors such as smoking, stress, not drinking enough liquids, and exposure to sunlight and dry air can make skin look dry, scaly and rough.[4] Microdermabrasion can gently wear away the topmost layer of dry, rough skin to help it look healthier, moisturized, and younger.[3]

5. Remove Scars

Light or mild scarring may be reduced or completely removed using microdermabrasion.[5] This treatment removes the top layer of skin to reveal a fresh layer of skin underneath and reduces the appearance of light scars. Microdermabrasion may also help reduce the appearance of deep scars, though it may not be able to eliminate them completely.

6. Treat Acne and Clogged Pores

Light acne scars, mild acne breakouts, and clogged pores may be treated using microdermabrasion. This procedure can remove the top layer of dead skin cells that may be clogging pores, as well as any oil that may be inside these pores contributing to acne.[3]

Understanding Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is an exfoliating treatment that removes the top layer of skin along with any dirt, oil, or bacteria that may be covering the epidermis.[3] Microdermabrasion promotes the growth of new skin by stimulating the blood vessels directly under the skin and boosting circulation.

This skin care treatment was first introduced in 1985 as a less aggressive alternative to dermabrasion and chemical peels and is one of the most common non-surgical cosmetic treatments in the U.S.[6] Microdermabrasion is usually performed as an outpatient procedure at a medical clinic, medical spa, or day spa by a nurse, medical assistant, or aesthetician. The goal of microdermabrasion is to help people achieve brighter, healthier, and more youthful-looking skin.[7]

Microdermabrasion is performed using a handheld instrument or wand that rapidly rotates to sand, polish, and remove the outer layer of dead skin cells. Some clinics and spas use wands with crushed-diamond tips, while others use wands that release strongly pressurized jets of exfoliating crystals.[3] Microdermabrasion does not cause pain or discomfort and requires no anesthetic.

Risks of Microdermabrasion

The most common risks and complications of microdermabrasion include redness, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and petechiae—small red or purple spots under the skin caused by bleeding.[6] Skin generally becomes more sensitive to the sun and may be more susceptible to sun damage within a few days of each microdermabrasion treatment session. Serious complications can include eye irritation, if crystals accidentally go into the eyes, and reactivation of viruses such as herpes if affected skin cells are pushed back into the skin.[6]

What to Expect with Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion sessions normally occur once per week for between 4 and 6 weeks, with each session lasting 30 to 60 minutes.[6] First, the treatment area is cleaned with a mild cleanser to reduce the risk of infection. Next, moist gauze is placed over the eyes to prevent contact with abrasive crystals that are released from the microdermabrasion wand.

After the skin has been cleaned and eyes are covered, the nurse or aesthetician gently applies the tip of the wand to the skin. The device pulls a tiny section of skin into its tip and releases abrasive crystals at a steady flow that remove and sand down the outer layer of skin. The wand is passed gently across the treatment area about 3 times until the desired results are achieved. At the end of the treatment, a soft cloth is used to wipe away any remaining crystals and debris, and a gentle moisturizing formula is applied to the skin to reduce redness, swelling, and irritation.[6]

Microdermabrasion does not produce discomfort or downtime, and patients can return to their normal daily activities following each treatment session. Patients are usually advised to avoid direct exposure to sunlight and to use moisturizer and sunscreen on the treatment area for a few days after each session.[5]

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Microdermabrasion

  • How many treatment sessions will I need?
  • Will I experience pain or discomfort?
  • How soon will I notice results?
  • How long will my results last?
  • Where on my body can I receive microdermabrasion?
  • Will I need certain moisturizers, creams, or lotions after my treatment sessions?
  • How should I prepare for microdermabrasion?
  • How long should I avoid exposure to sunlight after each treatment session?
  • Are there certain behaviors that may affect my results?
  • Is microdermabrasion safe if I have current health or medical problems?
  • Can I continue using medications and supplements after microdermabrasion?
  • What side effects could I experience?
  • Am I at higher risk for certain side effects or complications?
  • Can I see before-and-after photos from other patients?

Microdermabrasion May Also be Known as:

  • Crystal Microdermabrasion
  • Diamond Microdermabrasion
  • Sandblasting
  • Dermal peel
  • Microderm



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