Microdermabrasion is classed as a cosmetic procedure, rather than a therapy. It is a procedure where the stratum corneum, which is the outer surface of the skin is partially or completely removed. This is actioned by a variety of methods which aim to scrape away the dead skin and impurities on the skin surface by gentle abrasion. It is an effective treatment for acne, and raised scars, but will have negligible effect, if any, on sunken scar tissue. It is also helpful in the treatment of dark spots on the skin and wrinkles. As the entire process is geared to removing the surface skin, the lower layers of skin cells are stimulated to regenerate new cells. The abraded (scraped) skin will feel rough, due to the exposure of keratinocyte cells (outer most layer of the skin), which are better equipped to absorb water into the skin. This helps to minimise scar tissue, blotches and stretch marks on the skin.

Microdermabrasion treatment is carried out in Spas, Beauty Salons and GP Surgeries by professional practitioners. Home treatment kits are also available. There are three types of abrasive materials which professionals use.Diamond, which is the hardest material. This is applied with a wand covered in diamond dust using a tipped head which meets the skin and gently rubs the affected areas. The dead abraded skin is then sucked away. Zinc or Aluminium Oxide are the next hardest materials and the softest is Sodium Bicarbonate micro-crystals. The crystals are applied in a jet stream blasting tiny particles onto the skin which gently abrades the surface and the debris is then sucked away.

A dermabrasion procedure can last from 15 minutes to one hour and can be carried out during a lunch break. A stabilising lotion is usually applied to the skin first, then the procedure applied. It is normal to feel slight discomfort and perhaps a scratching sensation during the treatment. Afterwards any surplus debris and or crystals are brushed from the face with a brush and a moisturising lotion is applied.

There are many home treatment kits available and these come with full instructions for use, and some come complete with foams which are applied to the skin when using the machine.
Microdermabrasion is often used after other treatments have been carried out, such as laser therapy, or subcision therapy (a minor surgical procedure used for treating depressed scars and wrinkles) to help speed up the formation of healthy new skin.

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Information written by the talkhealth team

Last revised: 29 August 2017

Next review: 29 August 2020