What is dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion is an exfoliating technique that
uses a rotating instrument to remove the outer layers of skin, usually on the
face. This treatment is popular with people who wish to improve the appearance
of their skin. Some of the conditions it can treat include fine lines, sun
damage, acne scars, and uneven texture.
Dermabrasion occurs in a dermatologist’s
office. During the procedure, a professional will numb your skin with
anesthesia before removing the outermost layers of your skin. This is an
outpatient procedure, meaning that you can go home to recover following the
There are several over-the-counter devices
that simulate the cleansing and exfoliating process of professional treatments.
These typically take longer to produce the desired skin-smoothing effects of
professional dermabrasion and usually don’t achieve the full effects.
What are the reasons for
Dermabrasion removes damaged outer layers of
skin. This exposes new layers of skin that appear younger and smoother.
In addition to providing a more youthful
appearance, dermabrasion can also help treat:
- acne scars
- age spots
- fine wrinkles
- precancerous skin patches
- rhinophyma, or redness and thick
skin on the nose
- scars from surgery or injury
- sun damage
- uneven skin tone
Dermabrasion is only one of many treatments
for these conditions. For instance, advances in laser technology make laser
tattoo removal quicker and easier. Talk to your dermatologist about all of the treatment
options for your specific condition.
Some skin conditions may prevent your doctor
from performing dermabrasion, including inflammatory acne, recurrent herpes flare-ups,
radiation burns, or burn scars.
You may also be unable to receive
dermabrasion if you’ve taken medications with a skin-thinning side effect. And
your doctor may not recommend dermabrasion if your skin tone is naturally very
How do I prepare for dermabrasion?
Before your treatment, your doctor will give
you a physical examination, review your medical history, and discuss your risks
and expectations. Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking,
including over-the-counter medicine and nutritional supplements.
You may need to stop taking them because they
could increase your bleeding risk or adversely darken your skin. Tell your
doctor if you have taken isotretinoin (Accutane) in the past year.
Your doctor will also recommend that you not
smoke for a few weeks before and after your treatment. Smoking not only causes
premature aging of the skin, but it also decreases blood flow to the skin and
slows the healing process.
Your doctor will also advise you about sun
exposure. Too much sun exposure without proper protection two months before
dermabrasion can cause skin discoloration. You will also be advised to avoid
sun exposure while your skin is healing and to use sunscreen daily once healed.
Your doctor may also recommend that you use
the following before dermabrasion:
medication: use before and after dermabrasion treatment
to prevent viral infections
antibiotic: this will prevent a bacterial infection,
which is especially important if you have acne
cream: derived from vitamin A, this cream helps
You’ll also want to arrange for a ride home
after the procedure. The after-effects of anesthesia may make it unsafe to drive.
What happens during dermabrasion?
The type of anesthesia you have during
dermabrasion depends on the extent of your treatment. Your doctor will typically
give you local anesthesia. However, certain cases may require sedation to help
you relax or feel drowsy. Sometimes general anesthesia may be given during the
During the treatment, an assistant will hold
your skin taut. Your doctor will move a device called a dermabrader across your
skin. The dermabrader is
a small, motorized device with a rough surface.
On large patches of skin, the doctor will use
a circular dermabrader, while on smaller places, such as the corners of your
mouth, they’ll use one with a small tip. Your doctor may treat large sections
of skin over multiple sessions.
Right after the procedure, your doctor will
cover the treated area with a moist dressing. They’ll usually change this
dressing at an appointment the following day.
What happens after dermabrasion?
Your doctor will give you complete home care
instructions about how to change your dressings, how to cover the treated area,
and which products to use. You can expect to return to work in about two weeks.
Following dermabrasion, your skin is typically
pink and swollen and may feel like it is burning or tingling. The skin may ooze
a clear or yellow liquid or crust over while healing. It will take about three
months for your skin to fully heal and for the pink coloration to fade.
What are the complications
associated with dermabrasion?
associated with dermabrasion are the same as those associated with other surgical
procedures. They include bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to
specific to dermabrasion include:
in skin tone
pores, usually temporary
some people develop excessive scarring, or keloids, after dermabrasion
treatment. In these cases, some steroid medications can help soften the scars.
follow your doctor’s advice and attend follow-up appointments as recommended.
The most important thing is to be gentle to your skin. Avoid using harsh
cleansers or skincare products, and avoid scrubbing or picking at your skin.
Your doctor may recommend applying a thick moisturizing ointment such as
petroleum jelly. It is also very important to avoid exposing your skin to the
sun while it is healing. When your skin is healed, use sunscreen every day.