Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive exfoliation treatment for skin that reduces the appearance of sun damage, scars, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. During microdermabrasion, a gentle stream of aluminum oxide crystals exfoliates the outer layer of skin, after which the dead skin cells and crystal particles are vacuumed away to reveal healthy, fresh skin. In addition to its cosmetic benefits, microdermabrasion helps to enhance circulation and lymph flow. Results are immediately visible, and there is no downtime for the patient, who can immediately resume regular activities. Performed in-office, microdermabrasion does not require anesthesia, and can be combined with other procedures such as chemical peels or laser treatment.
Microdermabrasion is a much less invasive procedure than dermabrasion, which is used to treat more serious skin problems. Dermabrasion, in which several layers of skin are removed, is considered a surgical treatment.
The Microdermabrasion Procedure
During the microdermabrasion procedure, which is usually performed by an aesthetician, a handheld device is used to transmit tiny crystal particles across the targeted treatment area. The crystals and dead skin are then suctioned away with a vacuum tool, revealing fresh underlying skin. A treatment session can last from 5 to 60 minutes. The results of a single microdermabrasion treatment are temporary. For continued improvement, treatment should be repeated every 2 to 4 weeks.
Risks of Microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion is considered safe for all skin types, and is appropriate for Asian and dark-skinned patients who may be at risk for skin discoloration with other types of treatment. There are no serious risks associated with microdermabrasion, although some patients experience mild redness and irritation after treatment, and patients older than 70 may have a slightly escalated risk of bruising and skin abrasions. Avoiding sun exposure after microdermabrasion is important because some of the skin's natural protection may be removed during treatment.
In patients who have a history of cold sores, undergoing microdermabrasion may reactivate the virus that causes them. In those cases, avoiding treatment around the lip area and/or taking preventative antiviral medication prior to treatment may be recommended.