Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic treatment that holds appeal for those of all ages and skin types. After five to 16 sessions with a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon, the benefits of microdermabrasion are appreciated most by people who want to refresh the appearance of their skin without resorting to more time-intensive and invasive procedures, such as deep chemical peels or laser treatment.
Microdermabrasion tackles flaws at the surface level, treating only the outermost layer of skin. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons notes that microdermabrasion treatments are delivered via a hand-held device that sends small crystals over the skin, after which they're suctioned up, or via a diamond-tipped wand. Both types of microdermabrasion simply remove the surface layer of dead skin cells through gentle exfoliation. The skin is not wounded or abraded past the epidermis.
Microdermabrasion isn't a painful procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you may feel a scratching or mild stinging during treatment or a vibration, much like a massage. There's no anesthesia involved, says the American Academy of Dermatology. Your skin may be pink and slightly swollen after microdermabrasion, but these side effects typically last only a day. Your treating dermatologist will apply a soothing moisturizer after the treatment and give you a sun protection plan to protect your new layer of skin.
Another benefit of microdermabrasion is that this procedure is quick, usually taking less than an hour, says the Academy of Dermatology. Treatment of the face takes around a half-hour; treatment of the neck even less--around 20 minutes. The academy notes that you may need several sessions to achieve optimal results. But the Society of Plastic Surgeons points out that some people need only two sessions in the same month, complemented by monthly maintenance treatments.
For All Skin Types
Microdermabrasion is appropriate for cosmetic problems associated with aging skin, such as sun damage, age spots and other types of discoloration and fine lines that occur early in the aging process, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. But microdermabrasion also benefits those with oily skin, reducing minor acne scarring. The Mayo Clinic says microdermabrasion is a treatment that may be beneficial for blemished skin. A single treatment is appropriate when you have a special occasion on the calendar and want your skin to look healthy and refreshed, the medical center says.
Safe and Effective
In the hands of a skilled dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon, microdermabrasion is safe--far safer than home microdermabrasion kits or services delivered at spas and salons, which lack medical oversight, according to the Society of Plastic Surgeons. Home microdermabrasion kits won't give you the same results you would get if your treatment were delivered by a skilled dermatologist, cautions the Academy of Dermatology. Seek the services of a qualified medical professional to avoid potential complications and get optimal benefits from microdermabrasion.
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.