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When to Get Microdermabrasion: Is It Right for You?

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There are many factors to consider if and when to get Microdermabrasion treatments. In this article, we offer 10 questions to consider before deciding to get microdermabrasion so patients can find out if it’s right for them!

1) Who is microdermabrasion suitable for?

Looking to get rid of acne scars, rough/dull skin, large pores, age spots, or fine wrinkles? Want better skin texture? It may be time to investigate microdermabrasion. It removes dead skin, revitalizing skin and increasing its elasticity. This allows the skin the thicken with increased collagen production1.

However, microdermabrasion cannot completely remove severe scarring or spotting, as it removes just the top layer of skin. For deeper skin discolorations that reach into the epidermis, patients may have to consider a medium to deep chemical peel, laser treatments, or dermabrasion2.

It also cannot remove tattoos, and isn’t recommended for patients with active rosacea, warts, acne, psoriasis, and fragile capillaries. Microdermabrasions can be added to any skin care regimen and can be done as often as every 2 weeks.

2) What does microdermabrasion entail?

Microdermabrasions have evolved over the years. Once upon a time the only type of microdermabrasion available used a powered hand-held tool to spray micro-beads of crystals onto the skin at a high rate of speed3. These crystals, often made of aluminum oxide or sodium chloride, exfoliated and blasted away the top layer of skin to reveal new skin underneath. This method, which is still in use today, can be messy and cannot be done prior to receiving other skin treatments.

Now there are other types of microdermabrasion. The two most common are diamond cut and bristle technologies.

Diamond cut, or as some may call it, Diamond Peel, uses a tipped wand. There are various levels of coarseness for different skin types and skin conditions. The tip is made of natural diamond chips, which polish the skin, and simultaneous suction removes the dead skin cells. This type of microdermabrasion can be immediately followed by other skin treatments such as peels or products.

Bristle microdermabrasions are also very popular. Similar to the diamond peel, the bristles come in varying degrees of coarseness for different skin types and conditions. The bristles remove and polish the skin while suctioning the loosened dead skin away. The simultaneous suction helps to bring blood to the surface of the skin and also stimulates collagen production.

After the skin has been abraded a soft infusion tip is placed on the wand and the skin professional will determine the best infusion serum to aid in each patient’s skin care goals. Patients can also follow up with peels, products, or laser treatments after having this kind of microdermabrasion4.

3) Can patients come in for a series of treatments?

Patients should consult their skin care professional for a general idea of how many treatments they need, but each patient will need multiple visits. Most people say they see improvement after the first two sessions, but many experts suggest up to 10 treatments, scheduled several weeks apart so that skin has time to recover. Even after the recommended sessions are complete, patients may wish to schedule maintenance treatments every few months to maintain the effects.

4) Does the patient have a great cosmetic physician or skin care professional available to provide services?

Aestheticians offer microdermabrasions and other skin care services. They are pretty easy to come by. They are in every local salon and spa, but beyond being licensed, there is limited regulation for this profession. Be sure to select one that is very experienced. There are also medical aestheticians who perform services in medical offices and therapeutic spas who have direct oversight by a physician.

This is a huge benefit because the doctor can examine the skin to make sure the patient is a viable candidate, and can offer knowledge and safety in case of a medical emergency. They also tend to use more potent products that aren’t available for use in a regular salon or spa. Medical grade cosmeceuticals offer more therapeutic value and can help achieve individual patients’ skin care goals in a short amount of time.

5) What research needs to be done?

It’s important that patients understand exactly what they’re getting into. Ask questions. Know exactly what the process entails, what equipment the provider uses, whether a specific skin tone might provide a problem, and how to deal with preparation and recovery issues. Patients should make sure they are capable of following the instructions the skin care professional provides.

6) Can a patient handle low levels of discomfort?

Microdermabrasion is usually gentle and painless, although some patients experience itchiness or an initial stinging sensation post-treatment depending on whether or not any products were infused into the skin. The skin does get used to the process so the more often it’s done, the more acclimated the skin will become. Patients may notice a little redness in the skin for a couple of hours post treatment. If a patient is super sensitive this could last a day or so. Overall this is a very safe procedure with minimal side effects.

7) Is it safe to wax or sunbathe prior to treatment?

While there are minimal pre-treatment requirements, the skin care professional may ask that patients discontinue using certain alpha-hydroxy products with glycolic acid or lactic acid, salicylic acid products, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide, and to avoid aspirin-based or anti-inflammatory medications for a couple days before having microdermabrasion.

Once the skin acclimates to microdermabrasions patients may be allowed to continue these products before and immediately following treatment, but this will all depend on how the skin reacts. The skin care professional will probably advise no waxing or sun exposure just before and a few days after treatment.

8) Is it affordable?

The price of microdermabrasion varies widely based on areas treated, expertise level of the aesthetician, the geographical location, and extra products or services being provided, so patients should check with their cosmetic practitioner. Ask how much one treatment will cost, and how many treatments are in a package. Often treatments are packaged in a series for a discounted price. Insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures.

9) How much downtime is there?

One of the advantages of microdermabrasion is a short recovery time, and fast-appearing results. Other, more invasive procedures may offer more dramatic results, but with downtime, which isn’t always convenient. If a patient’s lifestyle is conducive to longer, deeper treatments, they may wish to consider more aggressive options. If not, microdermabrasions are an excellent choice.

10) Does the patient have a major event coming up?

For people who are getting married or have an event they need to look great for, consider the timing. Patients can experience some flaking and peeling post microdermabrasion and that may not look good in pictures, so they’ll want to schedule treatments well in advance of any big parties, or make sure they come afterwards. Doing anything new to the skin isn’t a good idea prior to milestone events like these, so take that into account when scheduling treatments.

1. Fernandes M (2014). Effects of microdermabrasion on skin rejuvenation. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. 2014; 16(1): Pages 26-31.
2. Johnson, DL (2016). Skin Resurfacing Procedures of the Upper Face. Atlas of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2016; 24(2): Pages 117-124.
3. Shah M (2019). Microdermabrasion. StatPearls. 2019.
4. Abdel-Motaleb AA (2017). Dermal morphological changes following salicylic acid peeling and microdermabrasion. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2017; 16(4): Pages e9-e14.