Dermabrasion uses a power-driven sanding wheel that looks somewhat like a dentist's drill to remove the topmost layers of skin.
Dermabrasion was first developed to smooth the pitting caused by acne scars, but the technique can also be used to remove wrinkles, liver spots caused by sun and aging, and precancerous growths. For such treatment, dermabrasion is usually done on isolated areas of the face. Dermabrasion cannot be done around the eyes.
Dermabrasion has much the same effect as a chemical peel. In general, chemical peels are more often used to treat fine wrinkles than is dermabrasion. However, dermabrasion is less likely to cause extreme changes in skin color and may be the preferred technique for people with darker skin.
The dermabrasion procedure is begun by cleaning the treatment area with an antiseptic agent. The surgeon abrades away the outermost layer of skin with a wire brush or a burr containing diamond particles. Soothing ointments are then applied.
Nice To Know:
Dermaplaning. The surgeon may also use an instrument called a dermatome. The dermatome looks a bit like an electric razor and works more like a wood plane than a sander. The dermatome has an oscillating blade that planes off surface areas of the skin surrounding pits and other defects. Dermaplaning is most often used to treat scars.
Dermabrasion takes only a few minutes if it is being performed on a small area. For larger areas, the procedure may take about 90 minutes.
Repeat procedures are sometimes required.
It is usually done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthetics and a sedative to relieve tension. Sometimes a numbing spray is used instead of a local anesthetic, or the two may be used in combination. If extensive work is being done, a brief hospital stay may be required.
After The Treatment
For a few days after dermabrasion, the skin feels as though it were severely sunburned. It will be red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult. There will be some tingling, burning, and aching that can be controlled by medication. Most people do not experience severe pain.
A crust may form over the treated area. It will disappear with healing. The skin underneath will be tight and pink. The face may itch as the new skin grows. Frequent showers and use of emollients can speed recovery. Men will be asked not to shave for several days and then to use an electric razor until the skin is completely healed. Healing takes about 10 days.
The skin will be slightly swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks after dermabrasion. Non-allergenic cosmetics can be worn as soon as the skin is healed.
Normal activities should be resumed gradually.
Avoid any activity that might cause a bump on the face for at least two weeks.
Avoid chlorinated swimming pools for at least four weeks.
Avoid active sports such as ball games for as long as six weeks.
Avoid exposure to sunlight for at least six months. Aggressive continued use of sun block is required after dermabrasion.
How Effective Is Dermabrasion?
Fine lines and wrinkles are caused by the deterioration of the connective fibers (collagen and elastin) in the skin. Dermabrasion forces the growth of new tissue in which fibers are more plentiful and better organized. Although it may take as long as 12 weeks for skin to recover from dermabrasion, the end result is skin that is smoother and more youthful looking.
Nice To Know:
Microdermabrasion polishes the skin with tiny crystals that are then removed with a vacuum. This technique doesn't traumatize the skin the way dermabrasion does and it produces only a mild redness. It may have to be repeated several times, however, to achieve the desired result.