Is Dermabrasion Right for Your Skin?

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Published: 16th July 2012
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Do you use a ton of anti-aging and wrinkle creams? If you struggle with skin problems, particularly severe scarring, you may be considering dermabrasion. Before heading to the local dermatologist, you should take the time to become informed about the indications, procedure and risks. Unlike many other cosmetic procedures, dermabrasion is a lot more invasive.

Dermabrasion- Defined

Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure performed under local anesthetic by a licensed practitioner. As the name suggests abrasion is used to strip away layers of skin from the affected area. You may have your choice of several materials including sandpaper, serrated metal wheel, wire brush or diamond fraises which come in a variety of sizes, shapes and coarseness levels. You can also often choose between manual abrasion and mechanical.

Manual dermabrasion is the most commonly requested, as it is cheaper and leaves less room for error. During a manual procedure, your surgeon will use a type of medical sandpaper to remove layers of skin. This may take one simple pass or require several depending on the severity of your scarring or blemishes.

Abrasion via a handheld machine is becoming more popular. With this type of abrasion, your physician will utilize a handheld machine, similar to a dermal, to remove your skin layers. As you can imagine this allows the surgeon to go deeper and get a more uniform result.


You may also have the option to use micro-dermabrasion, which is an anti-aging procedure similar to dermabrasion but performed using fine crystals to remove layers of skin. Preparation and recovery are lessened significantly with micro-dermabrasion. Other advantages included but are not limited to:

    • No anesthetic required


    • Simple and quick


    • Practically painless


  • Facial redness is may be reduced


Exactly who would benefit from this anti-aging treatment? You might be surprised to learn that not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. Before a physician will even consider dermabrasion, they will likely want to run a few tests and go over your medical history. Dermabrasion shreds several layers of skin and comes with a few risks.

Ineligible for Dermabrasion:

    • Current outbreak of Herpes Simplex- cold sores


    • Undiagnosed lesions


    • Severe acne- weeping


    • Auto-immune issues


    • Warts


    • Pigmentation problems


  • Easy scarring

Of course, this list is far from comprehensive and your personal physician will likely want to run a variety of tests to determine your eligibility for dermabrasion. Requesting your complete family medical history is not uncommon for this type of procedure.

Other considerations:

    • Skin conditions- acne, rosacea and dermatitis can flare after an abrasion treatment


    • Skin tone- certain skin tones are more prone to hyper-pigmentation and hypo-pigmentation. This is most common with midrange skin types, those that tan quite easily.


    • Keloids- if you are prone to hypertrophic scarring or keloids (fibrous deposits) your practitioner may do a test spot first.


    • Isotretinoin therapy- if you have had this treatment you will want to wait at least 6-12 months before dermabrasion.

  • Herpes Simplex- if you are currently suffering an outbreak it is important to wait until they have cleared. You should know that dermabrasion can spark an outbreak. Those with herpes simplex virus issues will likely have to take a round of acyclovir, valacyclovir or famciclovir.

Emotional Issues

It is very important that anyone considering cosmetic procedures is stable both physically and mentally. There is a significant healing period after dermabrasion and it is not uncommon for patients to suffer a period of depression and if you are already prone to this condition the transitional period can be very difficult. Patience and mental stability are extremely important to your overall healing.

Your Surgeon

If you are still considering dermabrasion rather than anti-aging or wrinkle creams it is time to begin searching for a qualified surgeon. There are too many horror stories out there for you to cut corners at this point. Incorrectly done this cosmetic procedure could leave you seriously scarred for life. Check the credentials and background of your potential surgeon. Remember to ensure they are board certified in cosmetic surgery and did not simply take a weekend course!

A bad surgeon can disfigure you for life and or cost you thousands of dollars in repair work. Ask around, check references and check with the board about your surgeons credentials. Never take chances with your appearance!


Another decision you may be asked to make is about the type of anesthetic. As a rule surgeons like to use a light anesthesia, Twilight, light sleep sedation or something similar. However, there are some surgeons who prefer to use IV anesthetic. You should be aware of the risks involved and the fact that you have other options.

Pre-Treatment Instructions

Once you have chosen your surgeon and had your initial consultation you will need to begin preparations for the treatment. At this point, in the process, you have been approved and any required tests have been completed. You should receive a to-do or not to do packet, and if not you should request one! For instance, you are going to need to avoid certain medications, which include but are not limited to:

    • Aspirin


    • Serotonin


    • Stimulants


  • Much more!

Since this is such an intense process, your doctor may advise you to take a round of supplements and vitamins in preparation. Most commonly advised supplements include:

    • Vitamin K


    • Brome lain


  • Arnica Montana

These supplements will reduce swelling and bruising so common to dermabrasion.

After Abrasion

After skin resurfacing your face will need several weeks to heal, after all you have, for all intents and purposes, sanded sand buffed your face! To aid in the healing process your surgeon will cover your face with Bacitracin or burn cream such as Silva dine. Immediately following the surgery, you could be prescribed painkillers.

Pay close attention to your after care instructions for the best possible results, how you care for your face during these crucial first weeks can make the difference between a result you love and one you hate. Whether you are having a small area treated or your entire face, these are important instructions.


Should you undergo dermabrasion? Many women, after years of anti-aging and wrinkle creams, simply get fed up and decide to go extreme, and dermabrasion definitely fits this description. Women who have long suffered with scarring or pigmentation problems can sometimes realize a whole new life after this treatment, but you must understand all the associated risks. Take the time to fully understand this procedure before signing up.

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