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Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion Treatment
by Paul Wigoda, MD

Dermabrasion is an abrasive process performed to remove the epidermis and superficial dermis. It results in a smoothing of contour irregularities. It is often very useful in the treatment of facial wrinkles, acne scarring, and traumatic scars.

Elderly female before and one month after full facelift with perioral dermabrasion.

If you have noticed how refreshed a stone building looks after a thorough sandblasting, you are on your way to understanding the effects of microdermabrasion. The procedure has gained considerable popularity in the past few years. Microdermabrasion is best thought of as a buffing process for the outer epidermal layer of the skin, leaving individuals with smoother, more supple-looking skin.

The Process

Microdermabrasion is used to treat sun-damaged skin, unevenly textured skin, fine lines, aging spots, and stretch marks. The procedure involves spraying a fine jet of sand-like crystals onto the skin and, using a highly controlled vacuum, sweeping up the crystals and the top epidermal layer. As microdermabrasion brushes away the damaged cell layers, it also stimulates the skin's production of collagen and helps to maintain the elasticity of the skin. This process exfoliates the skin, stimulating the production of collagen and elastin which will result in a firmer, more youthful looking skin over time. Microdermabrasion is a subtle procedure that softens the problem areas of the skin. As a result, many patients return for an additional 5 to 7 treatments over the course of 2 months to attain a thoroughly refreshed and vibrant appearance. Perhaps the best aspect of microdermabrasion is that each treatment only lasts 15 to 45 minutes. In fact, it is so convenient that it is often referred to as the "lunchtime face lift." As well, microdermabrasion requires no anesthesia and is almost completely painless.

Following the Procedure

Directly following the treatment, the skin typically has a slightly rosy complexion that fades after a day. The skin is often dry and must be properly cleansed and moisturized for several days. In addition, patients should avoid wearing make-up for a day or two after the treatment. Expected Results from Microdermabrasion Depending on the area treated, you will notice an improvement in your skin's appearance. Acne scars will be less obvious. Age spots and fine lines are greatly diminished and many patients report that their skin seems to be softer, smoother, and younger-looking. After your first treatment, your skin will have a fresh pink glow. Improvement continues throughout your treatment program. You will begin to notice visible results after about the third treatment. In conjunction with a supervised skin care regimen, your skin will achieve and maintain a healthy look and feel.

Health Concerns

Microdermabrasion exfoliates only the external layer of skin and, therefore, rarely causes serious complications. However, if the technician is not careful, the tiny sand crystals can get in the eyes and cause considerable irritation. For those intending to have this procedure performed in a salon, be aware that there have been cases where the exfoliating crystals have been recycled for multiple patients. These recycled crystals can contain skin toxins from previous patients and can spread serious viruses such as hepatitis. Two weeks prior to the procedure, patients should refrain from tanning or waxing, or having chemical peel or collagen injections performed. Pregnant women should refrain from microdermabrasion.

What it can be used for:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Uneven skin tone or texture post laser
  • Reducing skin "dullness" that accompanies aging skin.
  • Keratosis Pilaris can be temporarily smoothed out, allowing topicals to penetrate easier and work more effectively
  • Some stretch marks.
  • Opening blackheads and keeping pores clean. Do not think of this as an acne therapy, although I have heard of several companies that make these claims.
  • Softening some saucer like acne scars and some other forms of scarring.
  • Smoothing out fine wrinkle lines. Procedure will not make a huge difference on advanced deep wrinkles.

What it should not be used for:

  • Not appropriate for keloidal scaring, as it may stimulate further scar formation.
  • Not appropriate for jagged ice-pick scars.
  • Skin cancers
  • Precancerous actinic keratoses (AKs)
  • This is not a method for the removal of skin growths.

Combining Microdermabrasion with Skin Restoration Program:

Microdermabrasion results are best when combined with corresponding skin treatment products. Home exfoliation is almost always used to expedite the improvement. Often the use of a topical vitamin A products for facial treatment such as prescription Retin A is used. They are often begun approximately 2 weeks prior to starting your microdermabrasion series. In some instances, they may be continued on a maintenance basis.

The use of topical vitamin C products such as Cffectives is also beneficial. This provides an antioxidant to the skin as well as helps stimulate collagen and elastin formation and deposition within the dermis.

If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, the use of effective bleaching agents such as the Obagi Nu Derm products are very important to achieving great microdermabrasion results. Your bleaching agent can also help prevent or diminish potential increased discoloration if you are anticipating deeper microdermabrasion., Certainly it is important to discuss the period when you should hold off on the use of these products during microdermabrasion sessions. It is typically a 36-hour period starting the night before treatment and restarting the morning after the procedure.

Does it work?

The advocates for this procedure have long made claims that the production of collagen and elastin fiber fibers is possible. Recent medical studies have shown documented changes within the dermis, suggesting some basis to this claim. Before and after skin biopsies of treated areas did indeed show pathologic improvement. The use of adjuvant topical therapy and the appropriate selection of patients for this procedure should help maximize results and diminish disappointment for both the clinician as well as the client.

Who Is A Microdermabrasion Candidate?

Anyone who is looking for a method to help improve their skin without having to hide for long periods of time due to extreme redness, raw skin, etc., and has minor skin issues such as irregular pigmentation, small depressed scars, fine lines and faint to moderate stretch marks should be a candidate. Microdermabrasion can be performed on any skin type as long as there are no other contraindications

Please visit Dr. Wigoda for further information.

CREDIT BYLINE: Article written by Paul Wigoda, MD, The Aesthetics Institute 1404 E Broward Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301 (954) 463-7088 - toll free: (888) 774-3223 (FACE) (954) 463-8766 (fax) http://www.drwigoda.com/ - info @ drwigoda.com(no spaces)

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