Microdermabrasion was introduced about 25 years ago and has been a phenomenal success ever since. Microdermabrasion is probably one of the greatest advances in the history of cosmetic skin care to date and that’s including all of the “fancy lasers” you see promoted all the time. There seems to be an infinite number of self-proclaimed high-tech, glitzy, and expensive cosmetic skin care treatments out there. Yet, consistently year after year, Microdermabrasion (right up there with Botox® and wrinkle fillers) is always in the top 5 of all of the non-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in the United States! There are many good reasons this time-tested and popular procedure is regularly enjoyed by so many people. You should probably be taking advantage of what this wonderful procedure can do for your face, too. First things first: What exactly is Microdermabrasion?
Most Microdermabrasion machines have an inert, fine particle crystal (like aluminum oxide, a very fine sand) which is used by the aesthetician to gently scrub away the outer, dead layers on the surface of the skin. The machine simultaneously sprays the particles against the skin and then vacuums the particles away over a given area. This delicate particle resurfacing is essentially the mechanical version of a chemical peel. The resurfacing immediately creates a fresher look to the face (albeit slightly irritated) while the deeper layers have been stimulated to create further rejuvenating effects which will come later. The procedure is quite comfortable – some patients have described it as similar to “being licked by a cat’s tongue”. It only takes a few minutes, without any type of anesthesia or numbing cream being necessary. After-care typically consists of simply following your usual, daily skin care regimen which would include gentle washing, judicious moisturizer use and sun protection.
Unlike most laser treatments, Microdermabrasion is essentially safe for all skin types and has minimal risks. These include minor irritation, small abrasions, very tiny bruises, and “cold sore” outbreaks that can occur with almost any kind of skin care treatment. Laser treatments have a much longer (and scarier) list of possible downsides and can very quickly run into the thousands of dollars, but a single Microdermabrasion treatment will typically range $100.00 – $125.00. Better final results are usually seen when a series of 6 or more treatments, spaced out every two to four weeks, are performed. Purchasing such a series package usually provides for even more savings. Lasers and chemical peels can often have some fairly significant recovery times – days or even weeks. It would be very unusual to see anything other than some minor irritation for a few days after Microdermabrasion. Most patients immediately love the way their skin feels – sort of like the skin’s equivalent of having your teeth cleaned!
Microdermabrasion has demonstrated efficacy for the treatment and improvement of acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles, and minor contour deformities of the skin. In general, the skin looks and feels smoother, with an overall softer texture and a less “weathered” look. An evening out of any irregular skin pigments may also result but probably not as well as would happen with a good chemical peel. A well-designed and customized treatment plan by your aesthetician would typically combine chemical peel treatments with Microdermabrasion for just this reason. Microdermabrasion has been touted by some as a directly good treatment for active acne but this is not really true and therefore not recommended. Interestingly, Microdermabrasion treated skin will respond better to most topical medications and compounds that we might want to get absorbed into the skin. The treated skin makes the delivery of such medications more reliable and consistent.
Microdermabrasion’s deeper, secondary effects result in a thickening of the epidermis (all the outer layers of the skin) and an increase in the collagen of the dermis (the inner layers of the skin) which also serves to give the skin even more of a long-term softer, healthier and smoother texture. Perhaps it’s time you saw your aesthetician and found out more about how this wonderful, inexpensive and reliable procedure called Microdermabrasion can help rejuvenate your skin!
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and a longstanding member of the premier American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art facial cosmetic surgery procedures and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.