In this article, Dr Attili discusses microdermabrasion treatment. He explains what it is, how it is performed, and who should have it, as well as the differences in the treatment provided by salons and dermatologists.
What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a general term for the application of tiny rough grains to buff away the surface layer of skin. Microdermabrasion takes place on the topmost layer of the skin, where it superficially and painlessly abrades the surface, like fine sandpaper. This encourages new skin cells to grow from underneath and replace the older cells on top. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that, unlike salon microdermabrasion with creams etc., medical microdermabrasion helps in remodelling the collagen in the skin and can make acne scars appear less prominent. Research has shown that it might also have an anti-ageing effect by improving the texture of the skin.
Is it only for those with acne?
Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that can be beneficial for most people, including those without acne, as it helps to maintain the natural facial skin texture by removing the sun damaged superficial skin periodically, which brings back the natural ‘glow’. However, it is a cosmetic procedure and if you are happy with the way your face naturally looks, there is no need to undergo microdermabrasion.
What is the difference between a salon and a dermatologist offering microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion performed at salons certainly won’t have the same effect as a skin specialist performing the procedure. This is because a dermatologist will:
- Assess which type of cosmetic procedure is best: microdermabrasion vs. chemical peels vs. LASER
- Determine if there will be any contraindications to treatment (see below)
- Prescribe a topical retinoid like tretinoin cream to improve the effectiveness of microdermabrasion.
What is the difference between diamond and crystal microdermabrasion?
The two main types of microdermabrasion, diamond microdermabrasion and crystal microdermabrasion, have a common principle in that they use a pen device to vacuum the surface of the skin that has been abraded. However, they differ in the mechanism used to abrade the skin. One uses a jet of fine crystals (crystal microdermabrasion) blown onto the skin surface to produce this effect, while the other has a rough diamond head that, when run over the surface of the skin, produces the same effect (like using sandpaper). Diamond microdermabrasion is usually considered the better option as the fine crystals used in crystal microdermabrasion could theoretically, be inhaled and or get into the eyes, which might cause problems.
Is it painful and how long does it take?
Think of it as a superficial skin polishing with the aid of a delicate hand piece that has a fine abrasive diamond tip, through which the skin surface is vacuumed at the same time. The treatment will be slightly uncomfortable but definitely not painful. The procedure takes about 15 minutes to perform.
How often should microdermabrasion be performed?
There is no set rule, but usually two to six weekly sessions can help remove dead skin, rejuvenate and plump up the facial skin. The frequency of treatment for patients with diseases like acne or facial pigmentation may vary, depending on the stage of the disease.
How soon does the skin recover after the procedure?
Microdermabrasion has been branded with the cosmetic nickname, the “lunch-time” peel; because it can be performed quickly and patients can return immediately to their daily routine, including applying makeup. Patients typically experience a slight irritation or wind burnt sensation during treatment and this can last for a few hours. In addition, skin usually takes on a pink hue that lasts on average one day, but can last for three or more days in rare cases.
How soon will I see results after it?
It all depends on the condition being treated. The minimum number of treatments recommended ranges from four to six. Usually, a difference is noticed after two to three sessions.
How should I take care of my skin after the procedure?
It is best to avoid waxing, using sun beds, using any ‘facials’, and swimming in chlorinated water for at least two days before and seven days after the procedure. The new skin that forms after treatment will be extremely sensitive to sun damage and a sunscreen with SpF 30 and above is recommended. It is also advisable that all patients use a mild steroid like 1% hydrocortisone for three to four days, to help with the inflammation caused by the procedure.
What are the complications or side effects?
Microdermabrasion performed by a trained dermatologist is complication free. However, there is a theoretical risk of hyperpigmentation if treatment is done too vigorously, and/or if the aftercare instructions given by the doctor are not followed.
Conditions that make someone unsuited for this procedure
Patients with certain conditions are not suited for microdermabrasion. Because the conditions are not absolute contraindications, they should be discussed with the dermatologist.
- Active rosacea
- Active severe acne
- Fragile capillaries
- Vascular lesions
- Herpetic lesions (herpes)
- Open sores
- Anyone who takes anti-coagulants
- Eczema/ Dermatitis
- Lupus Erythematosus