Dermabrasion is not a new treatment; it has been around since the 1950s. It should not be confused with Microdermabrasion, which is completely different and less invasive, although the aims of Dermabrasion are like that of chemical peels and laser treatment.
Dermabrasion is a more intensive surgical procedure, a skilled technique which needs to be carried out by a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. It involves full assessment of the patient before, during and after treatment to determine how much skin needs to be removed. The procedure usually takes up to an hour.
Dermabrasion can be used to treat deep facial lines, sun damage and acne scarring. It works by sanding or abrading the skin to remove damaged outer layers which in turn exposes new, younger-looking, smoother skin that grows in its place.
The skin to be treated is frozen or numbed then, applying either a rough wire brush or diamond wheel to the surface, the layers are scraped away. These motorised tools act like a sander with sheets of rough paper of either aluminium oxide or silica carbide crystals attached to them. A more or less substantial effect can be achieved depending on the coarseness of the paper used. The specialist will continue to work on the area until they are satisfied that the scarring is less visible.
After treatment, the skin will bleed and some swelling may occur. Bleeding can be stopped with cold compresses before a final dressing is applied. Most people will fully recover within ten days. Scabs will form at first but drop off within six to eight weeks revealing new skin which is initially red, gradually developing a normal colour. The entire healing process in terms of the fading of redness can take a few months.
Patients are advised to avoid sun exposure for three to six months after treatment and to use a sunscreen for two months prior and daily thereafter.
Dependent on the depth and complexity of the scarring it may be necessary to undergo further treatment after a couple of months.
For more information about Dermabrasion you are advised to talk to your GP who will be able to refer you to either a dermatologist or surgeon who specialises in this therapy.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. Our evidence-based articles are certified by the Information Standard and our sources are available on request. The content is not, though, written by medical professionals and should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands, or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 29 August 2017
Next review: 29 August 2020