What Does Microdermabrasion Do? Common Questions Answered...

Microdermabrasion is a technique developed to aid in sloughing off dead skin and removing it from the surface layer in order to create a smoother, more even toned skin.  But the original treatment developed prior toMicrodermabrasion is known asDermabrasion, which was first developed as a medical procedure to address severely scarred skin.

Dermabrasion was originally performed with a rotating wire brush that would grind off the surface layer of skin.  While it is painful, bloody and results in weeks of downtime, Dermabrasion works well to smooth out severely scarred skin.  BecauseDermabrasion affects the skin deep below the surface, it must be performed by a doctor in a medical facility.  It is not always safe to perform on pigmented skin so not necessarily a good option for all skin types.  

Sounds scary right?  Well the good news is over the years the procedure has evolved, and luckily there have been improvements and advances in equipment used, and we now have Microdermabrasion--the key word here is “micro” as this equipment is designed to remove dead surface cells on the outer layer of the skin only, and is a much safer way to exfoliate the skin without damaging the underneath layer, and since it does not cause bleeding or require long periods of downtime it can be performed by a licensed skin care professional and not only by a medical professional. 

What does Microdermabrasion do?  What are the benefits of microdermabrasion to the skin?

What are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?

It can remove surface level scarring (red marks) caused from acne, slough off dead surface cells that can create a rough skin texture, lighten or remove surface level hyper-pigmentation, minimize fine lines and wrinkles, and create an immediate and noticeable difference in the skin from just one treatment.  Most importantly, microdermabrasion is safe for all skin types so everyone can benefit from it.

What are the Limitations of Microdermabrasion?

Just remember the results are temporary and all of the aforementioned conditions can come back, but this is where a skilled esthetician will set the client up with an effective skincare regimen and products to address their skin condition, and help maintain results in between professional treatments.  

Studies have shown with regular monthly sessions, it can transform skin by creating a smoother texture, help reverse sun damage, even out tone, maintain a smooth surface texture, minimize pore size, and when Microdermabrasion is performed in a series (once every two weeks), it has shown progressive results in creating a more lasting youthful appearance.

What Microdermabrasion Does Not Address

While everyone can benefit from microdermabrasion, know that it will NOT permanently correct deeper pitted acne scarring or scaring that has caused depression marks in the skin.  This type of deeper scarring is below the surface, and while microdermabrasion can help smooth the skin out, it will not be able to permanently correct this condition.  This is where an esthetician can refer the client to a medical facility that will be able to address this with a more corrective invasive technology and treatment performed by skilled medical professionals.

Varying Types of Microdermabrasion Equipment

Microdermabrasion machines vary in type, but all are machines are designed with a vacuum like suction power along with the ability to control the pressure, the machine also has a hose connected to a canister or filtration system, which collects the dead cells and debris suctioned off the the skin.  There is a wand that attaches to the end of the hose, and the wand is typically made from surgical stainless steel that has diamond coated bits at the end of the wand to help grab dead surface cells and suction them off the skin into the canister.

There are two Types of Microdermabrasion Machines: Crystal Microdermabrasion or Crystal Free Microdermabrasion.

  1. Crystal microdermabrasion machines use silica, sand or baking soda particles that are blown onto the surface of the skin, then suctioned away from the surface and safely into the filter creating a really smooth skin texture and achieving a high level of exfoliation. 
  2. Crystal free microdermabrasion is when there are no particles, and instead the wand made of surgical stainless steel has micronized diamonds embedded into the end of the wand--this aids is safely removing dead surface cells from the skin, then suctioning them away into the hepa filtration canister.  All microdermabrasion wands can be removed and always disinfected in a hospital grade solution to ensure no cross contamination occurs between treatments.  At my skincare practice I use a crystal free DiamondTome machine, and my clients are very happy with the results, but I have personally had crystal microdermabrasion, and it also works well to achieve good results.  I think it is a preference of the skincare practitioner as to which machine they select for professional use.

Microdermabrasion with Infusion

There is also a third type of microdermabrasion known as hydro-dermabrasion or microderm infusion where the machine has a chamber that contains serum, so while you are exfoliating the skin suctioning off dead surface cells you are also injecting serum deep into the dermis.  There are various types of machines that perform this, and infusion microderm works well also, but if you have allergies to any particular ingredients you will want to check with your skincare practitioner to ensure the serum does not trigger an allergic reaction.

Who is a Good Candidate for Microdermabrasion?

Most everyone can benefit from microdermabrasion i.e. all skin types, colors, ages, and skin conditions will benefit, but a skilled esthetician will know exactly how much pressure to use, and how many passes a client’s skin will need during the procedure.  They should also be able to advise a client on what outcomes to expect, and not overpromise what it can do.

When Should Microdermabrasion Not Be Performed?

Microdermabrasion should NEVER be used on cystic acne or active breakouts, existing wounds or infections on the skin, sunburned skin, herpes virus outbreak, or skin that was recently treated with lasers or acids.  An esthetician will know what to do in this case, and be able to customize the professional treatment to address redness and inflammation instead.

Microdermabrasion may not be safe for clients with extremely sensitive skin or skin prone to eczema flare ups or dermatitis skin conditions like rosacea.  Again a skilled esthetician will know how to make a good judgement call and choose another treatment option to address the current condition of the skin in case the client’s skin is too sensitive to perform Microdermabrasion.  Microdermabrasion can spread active skin viruses around the face such as herpes fever blisters, so if there is a recent cold sore outbreak, then, it is probably best to wait until the skin has healed.

Is Microdermabrasion Safe for Pregnancy or Breastfeeding and Skin of Color?

Microdermabrasion is safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and is safe for all skin colors, but with clients of color, the treatment should be safe without being, too, aggressive in order to avoid hyper-pigmenting the client or causing sensitivity.

Can Microdermabrasion Be Performed on the Body?

Microdermabrasion can be performed on the body, but you will need to check ahead of time before scheduling an appointment as not all estheticians or medical spas are set up to treat the body--this takes longer times to perform these services, and the facility will also need to have microdermabrasion wands that were designed for the body.  Also, some states have varying rules and policies surrounding what areas of the body estheticians can treat so best to call ahead and make sure before scheduling.

Can Microdermabrasion Be Combined With Other Skincare Services?

Microdermabrasion can be used prior to performing advanced procedures such as LED light therapy, mild acids, or advanced masks to address certain skin conditions, and a skilled esthetician will have developed advanced protocols to use after microdermabrasion in order to enhance the client's outcome in order to achieve amazing results.

What are Potential Side Effects?  What to Expect Post Procedure?

While there is no lengthy downtime or side effects with Microdermabrasion it can cause some minor peeling for 2-4 days after the treatment, possible redness for a few days, and can result in skin feeling a bit sensitive with mild stinging or burning when applying skincare products.  It is not recommended to exfoliate at home for at least one week after your Microdermabrasion treatment, or apply skincare products with active ingredients such as: retinols, AHA acids, Salicylic Acids etc.

Best to avoid direct sunlight or extended outdoor activity for 48 hours afterwards, and of course make sure to wear a good SPF hat and sunglasses if you are planning outdoor activity.  I tell my clients after their treatment to avoid touching their face, wash all make-up brushes and change pillow cases, clean your cell phone, reading glasses and sunglasses in order to avoid any old bacteria transferring onto the skin as this will help avoid causing a breakout.

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