What Happens During Microdermabrasion?

Definition of Microdermabrasion

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Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure used as a facial rejuvenation tool.  A technician uses a machine to rapidly discharge super-fine crystals onto the skin's surface, removing the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. The crystals are then vacuumed away. The treatment is not painful, and there is no recovery time.

Microdermabrasion treatments can be performed at the skin spa, salon, medi-spa, and at your dermatologist's office.


What happens during a microdermabrasion treatment?

During a microdermabrasion treatment, a machine is used to emit fine crystals through a handheld wand.  The technician gently drags the wand over your skin  physically abrade the outermost layer of the skin while simultaneously vacuuming the exfoliated particles away.

Although it sounds brutal, microdermabrasion is a non-invasive, and a virtually painless, procedure.  The main benefits of microdermabrasion are that it's quick, it's inexpensive compared to other skin rejuvenation procedures, and there is no down-time. You can have a treatment done during your lunch hour and head back to work directly afterward.

Don’t confuse microdermabrasion with dermabrasion, though. They may have similar sounding names but the procedures are vastly different. Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure done by a physician to treat acne scars (among other problems) and works on much deeper layers of the skin.

Read On: What to Expect During Your Microdermabrasion Treatment

Does microdermabrasion work?

The answer to this question really depends on the results you're hoping for from the procedure.

Microdermabrasion originally was developed as an anti-aging treatment.  The procedure has become really popular among people with acne and uneven skin tone, too.

Microdermabrasion deeply exfoliates, softens and revitalizes the skin.  Even after the first treatment, you'll notice your skin looks and feels softer and smoother.

As an acne treatment, it's best for those with mild breakouts or comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads).  Microdermabrasion helps clear out the pores and reduce non-inflamed blemishes.  It won't clear up moderate to severe acne, though.  For that, you'll need a stronger acne medication, one that you can use every day to help get acne under control.

In fact, if your acne is inflamed, you should forgo this procedure.  It can make your breakouts even more irritated and inflamed.

And what about for acne scars?  Microdermabrasion can also help fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  But, as far as more serious acne scars go, if you're hoping microdermabrasion will get rid of them you'll be disappointed.  Microdermabrasion can't improve pitted or depressed acne scars.  

So, does microdermabrasion work?  Yes, as long as you're realistic about what this procedure can really do.

Read On: What Are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?

When you're ready for a microdermabrasion treatment, call your local salon or day spa, medical spa, or dermatologist office.

The pros there will let you know if microdermabrasion is a good treatment option for you.

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American Academy of Dermatology. "Facial Skin Rejuventation." Schaumburg, IL; 2008.

Karimipour D, Kang S, Johnson TM, Orringer JS, Hamilton T, Hammerberg C, Voorhees JJ, Fisher G. "Microdermabrasion: A molecular analysis following a single treatment." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 52.2 (2005):215-23.

Karimipour DJ, Karimipour G, Orringer JS.  "Microdermabrasion: an evidence-based review."  Plast Reconstr Surg.  2010 Jan; 125(1):372-7.

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