Dermabrasion & Microdermabrasion

Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center

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What is dermabrasion & microdermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a procedure in which the skin is cooled and then a specialized high-speed rotary instrument is used to "sand" the skin. This abrasive or planing action improves your skin contour as a new layer of skin replaces the treated skin, resulting in a smoother, refreshed appearance.

Dermabrasion can improve acne scars and scars resulting from accidents or disease. Dermabrasion does cause crusting of the skin and does require downtime. Once the skin is healed in approximately one week, it is left red as it would be following a chemical peel, laser peel or other resurfacing technique. Performed by a cosmetic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center, dermabrasion can also treat other skin conditions, such as tattoo scars, wrinkles, age (liver) spots and other skin lesions.

Microdermabrasion (also known as “power peel”) involves using tiny crystals that are sprayed on the skin, which helps treat superficial skin problems like fine lines, dull skin, brown spots, mild acne scars, age spots and sun-damaged layer of skin. Microdermabrasion causes no bleeding and requires minimal downtime. Skin care specialists at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center are experts at delivering this non-surgical, non-chemical procedure.

Am I candidate for dermabrasion & microdermabrasion?

Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion is most commonly performed for cosmetic reasons -- to enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but it may also be recommended to remove pre-cancerous skin growths, soften acne facial scars and even control acne. Men and women of all ages can benefit from both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion. The best way to determine if you are a candidate for dermabrasion or microdermabrasion is through a consultation with a skin care expert at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion is a good option if you:

  • Are physically healthy
  • Have mild or moderate degree of facial aging
  • Have skin growths, acne facial scars, sun damage
  • Have specific, but realistic goals in mind for the improvement of your appearance.

How do I prepare for dermabrasion & microdermabrasion?

Preparation for dermabrasion and microdermabrasion at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will depend on the type of procedure you are having.

If you are having dermabrasion:

  • Stop taking blood thinners for a week prior to the procedure
  • Stop smoking for at least a week prior to the procedure
  • You may be prescribed a course of antiviral pills if you are prone to cold sores
  • Avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding
  • Photographs of your face will be taken before and after treatment to evaluate improvement.

If you are having microdermabrasion:

  • Stop using products that contain salicylic acid (often found in facial cleansers)
  • Stop using Retin-A, Renova, Differin and certain glycolic acid products for at least a week prior to the procedure
  • Avoid sunbathing, tanning beds, waxing and any chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure
  • Photographs of your face will be taken before and after treatment to evaluate improvement.

How are dermabrasion & microdermabrasion performed?

Dermabrasion at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. Medication may be given prior to surgery to relax you. The affected area is thoroughly cleansed with an antiseptic cleansing agent and then your doctor will apply a special spray that freezes the skin.

A high-speed rotary instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush is then used to remove the outer layers of the skin and improve any irregularities in the skin surface. Typically, dermabrasion is a fairly quick procedure taking 30 to 60 minutes to complete, depending upon the area to be treated.

If the skin needs severe correction, or there is a large area of skin to be treated, your surgeon may decide to perform dermabrasion in several staged procedures, rather than all at once.

Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center offers a new microdermabrasion technique called the MicroDelivery Peel II that is performed in an office setting. By using a precision instrument, a stream of fine crystals is directed onto the face to gently remove tiny particles of dead, damaged skin.

Treatments using the MicroDelivery Peel II system generally take about 20 to 30 minutes. Depending on skin type, condition and expectations, six to 12 treatments over several weeks may be needed for the best results.

What are the different types of dermabrasion & microdermabrasion?

There are two types of dermabrasion:

Dermabrasion scrapes away the outermost layer of the skin with a rough wire brush or a tool containing diamond particles that “sand down” the skin. The “sanding” continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make a scar or wrinkle less visible. Dermabrasion is a more aggressive technique than microdermabrasion, and it erases significantly more wrinkles or scars. Therefore, dermabrasion does cause bleeding, while microdermabrasion does not. There is downtime with dermabrasion while microdermabrasion resolves without any downtime.
In dermaplaning, the surgeon uses a hand-held instrument called a dermatome, which resembles an electric razor or a surgical blade. The dermatome has a blade that moves backwards and forwards to “skim” off the surface layers of skin that surround a deep scar or other skin defect. The skimming continues until the lowest point of the scar or wrinkle becomes more even with the surrounding skin, and the skin is much smoother. The skin, which has been skimmed by the machine, then heals, producing tighter skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and scars.

The three main types of microdermabrasion are:

  • Crystal, using sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride or magnesium crystals to exfoliate
  • Corundum, which exfoliates skin using aluminum oxide crystals
  • Diamond-tipped or Crystal-free, which uses a hand-held applicator with an abrasive diamond or sandpaper tip.

What results can I expect?

Dermabrasion can produce dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results. Your skin will initially have drainage and scabbing immediately after the procedure. Once healed, in approximately one week, you will be quite red. The pinkness of your skin will take one to three months to fade depending on the depth of treatment. When your new skin is fully repigmented, the color should closely match the surrounding skin, resulting in smoother and fresher-looking skin.

Microdermabrasion is a milder technique that may require numerous treatments for the best overall results. After the first microdermabrasion treatment, your complexion will have a pink or red glow, which typically fades after a day.

Most people experience immediate improvements to their skin, but optimal results will not be visible until all of the recommended treatments are completed. A typical course of treatment ranges from five to 12 sessions spaced a week or two apart, resulting in dramatic improvements in the skin’s color, tone and texture – leading to a more radiant, vibrant glow.

Follow-up with an expert at a Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure long-lasting results from dermabrasion and microdermabrasion procedures.

What is involved in recovery?

After dermabrasion, pain medication may be prescribed to help reduce any discomfort you may have. Healing usually occurs within seven to 10 days.

In general, most people can resume their normal activities seven to 14 days after dermabrasion. You will be instructed to avoid unnecessary direct and indirect sunlight for three to six months after the procedure and to use sunscreen on a regular basis.

Microdermabrasion may cause your skin to feel as though it were sun- or wind-burned, but this subsides fairly quickly. Because the treatments are so gentle, you can return immediately to your daily activities.

Are Dermabrasion & Microdermabrasion safe?

All procedures carry some risk.

Possible side effects from dermabrasion include:

  • Temporary or permanent uneven changes in skin color
  • Temporary or permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by sun exposure in the days and months following surgery
  • Swelling
  • Scarring
  • Infection.

Possible side effects from microdermabrasion include:

  • Mild skin irritation
  • Eye irritation
  • Slight redness of the skin
  • Swelling

Why Choose Us

If you’re considering dermabrasion or microdermabrasion, look for an expert with specialized training and significant experience performing these procedures. Consider going to an expert who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic. Ask your doctor or skin care specialist about credentials, training and how many dermabrasion and microdermabrasion procedures he or she has performed.

Is this procedure covered by health insurance?

Like all cosmetic procedures, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are not covered by health insurance. Sometimes medical insurance covers the cost of dermabrasion if its main purpose is scar removal or reducing cancerous skin growth, burns or other severe injuries. Ask to talk with a financial representative from a Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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Have Questions? Contact the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center

855.383.7843