Benefits, Uses, Procedure and Risks

Microdermabrasion is one of many cosmetic options for improving the appearance of aging skin. It is a skin resurfacing method that can produce a fresher, more even complexion. Doctors consider it non-invasive because it only removes the outer layer of skin.

The procedure always carries risks, including skin irritation and infection.

This article explains a facial microdermabrasion, including the procedure, its uses, and its risks.

What is Microdermabrasion?

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Microdermabrasion is a form of resurfacing of the skin. It removes the thickness, outer layer of skin to exfoliate it.

The technique works by slightly damaging the skin to stimulate collagen production. Collagen is the protein that keeps skin smooth and taut. Collagen decreases with age, leading to fine lines and skin that loses firmness.

When the skin suffers damage, it makes collagen in the process of healing. This helps rejuvenate the skin and stimulate new growth.

Why is microdermabrasion performed?

The benefits of microdermabrasion are numerous and include to improve:

This results in better skin texture and a fresh, even complexion. You may notice softer skin and less prominent pores.

Doctors may recommend microdermabrasion for boost skin whitening treatments or reduce the effects of skin aging.

Dermatologists and plastic or cosmetic surgeons usually offer microdermabrasion as part of a medical spa service. A medical esthetician, physician assistant, nurse, or other qualified clinician usually performs the procedure.

Non-medical salons and spas may also offer microdermabrasion treatments.

Always verify that microdermabrasion professionals have the proper training and use sterile equipment.

There are also home microdermabrasion kits. However, professionals can treat the skin slightly deeper than home kits.

How is microdermabrasion performed?

There are two techniques to perform microdermabrasion. They both use wearable devices that remove the stratum corneum — the superficial layer of the skin. It’s not painful, but you may feel some scratching, vibration, or other slight discomfort.

Crystal-based microdermabrasion

This ancient method uses tiny abrasive crystals. The device pulls the skin inside and propels the crystals onto your skin at a specified speed. A vacuum sucks out crystals and dead skin cells.

As the clinician moves the device over your skin, the device cleans the stratum corneum. The flow determines the depth of the microdermabrasion. A treatment usually requires three passes over the area and takes up to an hour.

Before the procedure, the clinician will clean your skin and place wet gauze over your eyes. This prevents the crystals from irritating them.

Then the clinician will wipe your face and apply moisturizer.

Microdermabrasion without crystals

Crystalless microdermabrasion is a newer method. He uses a wand with a diamond tip. The procedure is similar to the crystal-based one. Instead of blowing up the skin, the wand grinds the stratum corneum.

What are the risks and potential complications of microdermabrasion?

The risks and complications of microdermabrasion can be minimal. It is common to experience any of the following:

  • bruises and petechiae, which are tiny red or discolored spots due to microbleeding
  • increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • redness or discoloration, tingling, or other skin irritation
  • swollen areas
  • tenderness

Eye irritation can occur with crystal methods if the crystals get into your eyes.

A skin infection is also possible.

How to prepare for microdermabrasion?

Preparation for microdermabrasion mainly involves a thorough consultation with your clinician. This will include reviewing your skincare routine, medical history, and medications. Be sure to include any over-the-counter products you take, such as vitamins and supplements.

It may be necessary to stop certain products and practices several days before and after microdermabrasion, including:

  • exfoliating products and acne treatments, including tretinoin
  • expose oneself to the sun
  • waxing

During the consultation, ask questions and set expectations. Questions you might want to ask include:

  • Am I a candidate for microdermabrasion?
  • Are there any products or practices I should stop before or after microdermabrasion?
  • Am I at higher risk for side effects for some reason?
  • What results can I expect?
  • How many treatments will I need and at what distance?
  • How much will each treatment cost? Do you offer treatment packages or discounts on multiple treatments?
  • Do you have microdermabrasion before and after photos of your clients that I can see?

What can I expect after microdermabrasion?

After microdermabrasion, the skin may have redness or discoloration and swelling. This usually resolves within a few hours of treatment. Then the skin may become dry and scaly for a few days. Applying moisturizer and other recommended skin care products can help.

You will need to be extra vigilant to protect your skin from sun exposure for several days. Regular use of daily sunscreen can help maintain results.

Other than these minor issues, there is almost no downtime with microdermabrasion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions people often ask about microdermabrasion.

What is the difference between microdermabrasion and dermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is gentler than dermabrasion because it doesn’t go as deep. The skin has two main layers — the epidermis and the dermis. Microdermabrasion removes the most superficial layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum.

Dermabrasion, on the other hand, can penetrate the middle level of the reticular dermis, the deepest layer of the dermis. It requires the expertise of a surgeon using local or general anesthesia.

Learn more about the difference between microdermabrasion and dermabrasion.

How often do you need microdermabrasion?

A care series is usually necessary to see noticeable results. Clinicians may recommend weekly, biweekly, or monthly treatments for the initial series. However, these results are temporary. To maintain the appearance of your skin, you will likely need periodic treatments.

Microdermabrasion is an option for superficial skin resurfacing. It is a gentle treatment that only removes the outermost layer of skin.

By stimulating collagen production, skin ultimately appears smoother and more even. The process usually involves a series of initial treatments. To keep skin looking younger, maintenance treatments are usually necessary.

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