What is microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a very popular, machine-assisted skin-exfoliating treatment. Microdermabrasion has advantages of low risk and rapid recovery compared to the other more invasive resurfacing methods such as dermabrasion, chemical peeling, and laser resurfacing. Since microdermabrasion produces only a very superficial depth of skin removal, it works best on improving conditions on the surface of the skin such as early photoaging (sun damage), fine lines, age spots, acne, and superficial scarring, although the results are not dramatic. Although the face is the most common area for microdermabrasion, any skin area, including neck, chest, back, and hands, may be treated.
Microdermabrasion is a painless, noninvasive, skin-rejuvenation procedure using a combination of a fine abrasive tip or crystals and vacuum suction applied to the skin. There are no needles or anesthetics required for microdermabrasion. The vacuum pressure and speed are adjusted depending on the sensitivity and tolerance of the skin. Microdermabrasion is often compared to the feeling of a cat licking your face, a rough but gentle texture. Typical microdermabrasion sessions can last anywhere from five to 60 minutes. Minimal to no recovery time is required after microdermabrasion and most people immediately return to daily activity after a session.
Who should consider microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is somewhat useful for people with dull or sallow skin, mild acne, acne discoloration, pick marks, and very superficial acne scars. Microdermabrasion may be a good treatment option for patients with superficial skin problems and busy lifestyles who are looking for minimal benefits with virtually no side effects or downtime. Individuals with deeper acne scars may expect a much longer series of treatments or likely benefit from physician-performed surgical dermabrasion, chemical peeling or laser resurfacing.
What does the vacuum do in microdermabrasion?
The vacuum part of microdermabrasion has four basic roles:
- It gently pulls and lifts a small section of skin for micro abrasion.
- It can spray a stream of crystals across the targeted skin area.
- It focally stimulates blood circulation and creates mild swelling in the skin.
- It collects the used crystals and dead skin in a receptacle for easy disposal.
Possible side effects of microdermabrasion include:
- skin tightness,
- minor bruising,
- skin sensitivity,
- post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH),
- small skin abrasions,
- spots of bleeding,
- eye-skin bruising (especially if you are taking aspirin or other blood thinners),
- fine broken blood vessels (telangiectasia),
- and cold sore reactivation around lips.
What should people expect before, during, and after microdermabrasion?
Generally, softer and smoother skin that feels fresher and more rejuvenated is the expected outcome after microdermabrasion. Before starting the microdermabrasion treatment, eye protection such as eye pads or goggles may be placed. Often the skin may be prepared and cleaned of makeup and oils. Yet, no tlocal anesthetic is required. The skin will be stretched to provide some tension in order to achieve the most effective abrasion and vacuum. The hand piece is moved over the skin with repeated single, smooth passes. Usually, two to four passes per area are sufficient.
Mild pinkness of the skin is the desired outcome and usually resolves within minutes to hours after microdermabrasion. In addition, mild exfoliation of skin may occur as well. Continuously apply moisturizer or ointment if exfoliation occurs. Patients may also experience mild sunburn-like sensation for a few days. Moreover, liberal application of sunscreen is recommended as photosensitivity may be increased after treatment.
Microdermabrasion may help stimulate the production of collagen, thereby helping skin rejuvenation. As age spots from photoaging and fine lines are diminished, the skin may become softer and smoother. The results are modest, however.
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