Possible Side Effects of Microdermabrasion

Woman having microdermabrasion treatment done.
Photo: Grogor Bister / Getty Images

Microdermabrasion is a popular and common procedure done at salons and dermatologist offices alike.  It's a great way to deeply exfoliate the skin, leaving it softer and smoother.

(Not exactly sure what microdermabrasion is?  Then you'll definitely want to check out this article to get all the details: What Is Microdermabrasion?)

When done correctly, microdermabrasion is a very safe procedure.  Because microdermabrasion works only on the superficial layers of the skin, side effects are generally minor.

  Your risk is very small if your microdermabrasion treatment is being done by a skilled and conscientious technician.

The technician doing your microdermabrasion will fill you in on the possible side effects before your treatment is underway, but here is a rundown of the most common:


Most people find their skin is a bit red after a microdermabrasion procedure.  Usually, it's similar to a mild sunburn and fades after just a few hours.

Dryness or flaking skin

Dryness or flakiness in the days following a microdermabrasion treatment isn't unusual, and typically resolves within a week.  Just add an extra bit of moisturizer to your daily skin care routine.  If you have very oily skin, though, you'll welcome the fact that your skin isn't as oily as usual.

Increased sensitivity to the sun

Just like all exfoliating treatments, microdermabrasion can make your skin more sensitive to the sun (called photosensitivity).

So, you'll be more likely to sunburn in the days after your treatment.  Don't worry, it's temporary.  Just make sure to wear your sunscreen for the time being!


Because the microdermabrasion catheter exerts a vacuum effect on the skin, there's a possibility of bruising, especially in the thin-skinned areas around the eyes.

  Although it's not possibly to 100% avoid it, bruising isn't too common especially if your technician is skilled. 

Let your technician know if you bruise easily so she can take precautions during your treatment.

Slight abrasions

Occasionally, you may notice small abrasions and pinpricks of blood on the skin after a treatment.  This happens after an especially aggressive treatment. 

In some cases, your technician may have a reason for the extra work-over of your skin (in this case, it should be discussed before you ever sit down in the chair).  Otherwise, it's caused by clumsy treatment.

Cold sores

Those prone to cold sores know that certain things seem to trigger an outbreak -- spicy foods, the sun, stress.  Well, you can also add microdermabrasion to the list.  It happens when you have microdermabrasion around the lips. 

If you're prone to cold sores, you may want to skip treating around the lips.  You could also talk to your physician about using a cold sore prevention medication before having your treatment done.

Let your technician know if you're uncomfortable!

If at any point during the treatment you're uncomfortable or in pain, let the technician know.  Also, ask if you have any questions or concerns.

  A good technician will help put your mind at ease, before, during, and after your treatment.

Next Steps:

How Does Microdermabrasion Work?

What are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?

What To Expect During a Microdermabrasion Treatment

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