What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a beauty treatment that improves the tone and texture of a patient’s skin by removing a layer of dead skin cells. The exfoliation process takes place when the provider sprays on particles or uses an abrasive to sand away the outer layer of skin, according to Healthline. The process is more targeted and comprehensive than exfoliation through masks and scrubs that many consumers buy at the store.
Microdermabrasion can help address a variety of surface-level skin conditions, including sun damage, fine lines, stretch marks, uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, age spots, acne, and superficial scarring, according to MedicineNet and a Penn State Health study. While the face is the most common treatment spot, any skin area can undergo microdermabrasion.
- Microdermabrasion was first developed in Italy in the 1980s, according to Mukti Organics
- It was first approved for US markets in 1996, according to Healthline
- By removing dead skin cells at the surface of the skin, patients can expect their beauty products to penetrate 50% more effectively and enjoy smoother makeup application, according to Mukti
- Microdermabrasion can be helpful for patients of a variety of ages, but the best results are often seen by those between the ages of 35 and 50, when skin is in the early phases of aging, according to Mukti
The process takes place in-office and usually lasts around an hour, with little to no downtime afterwards. At-home microdermabrasion kits are available, but in-office technicians have access to more powerful devices that penetrate more deeply into the skin and provide more precise exfoliation, according to dermatologist Dr. Heidi Waldorf in an article for the Huffington Post. She advises consumers to use at-home kits only to extend the time between their in-office sessions if they want to save money.
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Is Microdermabrasion Right for You?
Microdermabrasion works on all skin types, including darker complexions that may not be suitable for other procedures like dermabrasion. That said, it’s not effective for deeper skin issues like “scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, or deep acne scars,” according to WebMD.
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Types of Microdermabrasion
The two most popular forms of microdermabrasion use crystals and diamonds respectively. Crystal microdermabrasion, the more popular of the two procedures, is a process in which super-fine crystals are sprayed via a stainless-steel wand onto the patient’s skin and then vacuumed away with the same wand, according to Very Well Health.
Diamond microdermabrasion is a newer procedure that’s gaining popularity. Instead of spraying particles onto the patient’s skin, a pen with a diamond tip is scraped along the surface of the skin like sandpaper. The two techniques have similar effects, but you can talk to your technician about the process they use.
Another treatment that’s gaining popularity is hydrodermabrasion. Sometimes referred to as a “HydraFacial,” the process uses a stream of water to exfoliate dead cells rather than a physical abrasive. According to the Trilogy Medical Center, it works similarly to microdermabrasion, but with the added benefit of improving circulation and hydrating skin. The process is gentler than microdermabrasion, and may be more fitting for patients with sensitive skin.
Microdermabrasion is not to be confused with dermabrasion, a more aggressive procedure that’s “generally only safe for people with fair skin,” according to WebMD. Where microdermabrasion is used for a variety of skin concerns, dermabrasion is most often used to improve the appearance of scars. If you’re considering microdermabrasion to improve the appearance of more superficial scarring, you may want to check with your technician about which procedure is best for your skin type.
How to Prepare
Healthline emphasizes the importance of avoiding sun exposure, tanning creams, and waxing the week leading up to the treatment. Patients should also avoid exfoliating creams and masks roughly three days before the treatment. That said, because it’s a non-surgical, minimally-invasive procedure, it requires very little preparation. Just make sure that you’ve removed all makeup and washed your face beforehand.
What to Expect
Microdermabrasion tends to make subtle improvements to your skin’s texture and appearance, causing no long-term change in color or scarring, according to WebMD. It’s a noninvasive procedure that helps encourage cell turnover and improves the effectiveness of your daily skincare routine. Because it’s noninvasive, the results won’t be as dramatic as a surgery or certain resurfacing procedures, but it’s also gentler, cheaper, and doesn’t require as much downtime. The procedure won’t be effective for deep wrinkles, but can help improve the appearance of fine lines and other surface-level imperfections.
This is a popular treatment as it has a myriad of benefits. They include:
- Improved blood supply to the skin
- Improved skin color
- Regeneration and oxygenation to the skin
- Cosmetics application is smoother
- Increased collagen production
- Removes blackheads and impurities
- Unblocks pores
- Reduces the visibility of scars, discoloration, and stretch marks
- Smoothes fine lines and improves skin elasticity (read more on mature skin here)
- Preps skin for further cosmetic treatments
How Often Should You Book the Procedure?
Patients can repeat the procedure every three to four weeks for optimal results, according to Medicine Net. How often you choose to rebook will depend on the severity of the skin condition you’re treating, although multiple treatments, “in combination with sunscreen, sun avoidance, and other skin-care creams yield best results.” Six to twelve sessions are usually recommended to see a noticeable, long-term improvement, according to Medicine Net.
When isn’t Microdermabrasion a good idea?
You shouldn’t opt for microdermabrasion if you:
- are taking anticoagulant medication
- have skin inflammation, psoriasis, or skin cancer
- had any surgery performed on the area you want to treat
- have bacterial or viral infections
After the Treatment
The most common side effects immediately after the procedure are mild redness, tenderness, and swelling, according to Healthline. These symptoms usually disappear after a few hours, although you may be advised to use a moisturizer to keep skin hydrated.
There should be no downtime after the treatment, but protecting your skin with sunscreen is crucial, as it will be especially sensitive to the sun in the first few weeks after treatment, according to Healthline.