Microdermabrasion is the third most popular minimally invasive cosmetic procedure performed in the U.S. An average of 859,000 patients have the procedure performed each year to remove the outer layers of their skin to reveal a healthier glow and smoother, firmer appearance. Microdermabrasion uses tiny crystals of aluminum oxide to gently remove tissues from the deeper layers of skin.
The skin refreshing technique helps increase production on elastin and collagen and removes dead and damaged skin cells. Environmental damages and the effects of aging can appear on the face, resulting in fine wrinkles and pigmentation, that microdermabrasion is able to reduce or remove. First developed in Italy in 1985, the technique quickly became popular when it was introduced in the United States because of its low risk and rapid recovery compared to the traditional resurfacing cosmetic procedures.
How is the procedure performed?
A consultation with a cosmetic surgeon will focus on identifying the problem areas to be addressed through the treatment, and in developing realistic expectations for the outcome. Not all individuals are suited to this procedure. Individuals with the following problems should not undergo the treatment:
- individuals who have active keloids
- undiagnosed lesions
- recent herpes outbreaks
- active weeping acne
- active rosacea
- unstable diabetes or auto-immune disorders
Good candidates for microdermabrasion include individuals with acne prone or blotchy skin, small scars, rhytides, keratoses, large pores, milia, or sebaceous hyperplasia. Microdermabrasion can also help improve the condition of sun damaged skin.
A treatment will generally take 20 to 30 minutes for the face. If the treated area includes the neck and upper chest area, the microdermabrasion could take an hour. Rehydrating toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen are applied following treatment before the patient leaves the office. Slight redness is expected, but should not persist more than a few hours.
After receiving a microdermabrasion treatment, the patient needs to take care of the new skin, by avoiding sun exposure for seven days, using high quality sun protection. Patients should also avoid skin exfoliants, alpha-hydroxy acid, and glycolic acids for 72 hours before and after a treatment. Although liquid foundation and pressed powder should not be used for at least 24 hours following the procedure, lipstick and mascara may be applied immediately.
There is virtually no recovery time or discomfort and patients can return to work immediately. In many cases, microdermabrasion treatment involves a series of procedures-often 4-6 treatments at 7-10 day intervals to allow the skin time to heal.
Is microdermabrasion the proper option for me?
Unlike other skin resurfacing techniques, microdermabrasion is associated to fewer potential risks. However it is important to identify appropriate patients for the procedure, because it is able to produce a superficial depth of injury. Unlike dermabrasion and chemical peels, microdermabrasion does not carry the risks of pigmentary changes or scarring, so for patients with only early photodamage, the procedure is able to provide pleasing results with no downtime.
Perfect for patients with a busy lifestyle, the only downtime the procedure requires is when the actual treatment is underway. The absence of anesthesia, pain, and downtime makes it easy to understand how microdermabrasion became one of the most sought after cosmetic procedures. However patients often need multiple treatments to maintain the effects. Because microdermabrasion produces a superficial ablation primarily in the epidermis, patients already showing advanced signs of aging, including deeper wrinkles or scars, may have to consider a more aggressive cosmetic option.
Am I facing any risks?
The risks associated with the procedure are almost non-existent. The medical grade machines used at high power carry some potential risks, including:
- hyper pigmentation
In response to the popularity of microdermabrasion and other skin resurfacing treatments, more at home products are being offered to consumers, but doctors are warning about the dangerous trend. A microdermabrasion mistake can result in spotty skin, and some damages can be permanent. While it can be tempting to save a few bucks with seemingly simple at- home cosmetic procedures, the patient must be willing to accept that cost cutting, in the end, can have lasting adverse effects.
Microdermabrasion is able to improve the overall skin quality by addressing mild photoaging, age spots, fine lines, superficial scars, enlarged pores and acne, but patients must be realistic about their expectations. Patients may need to undergo a series of treatments to achieve a desired appearance, and must also understand all individuals will have varying levels of success with microdermabrasion.