When concerned about your skin, scars, or wrinkles, it’s expected that you’ll have many questions about each procedure possible that can remove uneven blemishes and smooth your skin. Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion although sounding similar, can have drastically different results. Knowing what each means, how the procedures are performed, the recovery time, and the results expected will help you decide if either technique is right for you.
What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure, which replenishes and refreshes the top layers of your skin without an extended period for recovery. With a specially designed handheld instrument, your technician exfoliates the upper layers of non-viable skin cells. As the hand piece is guided over the skin, a light abrasion is followed by a suction mechanism, which removes the upper layers of dead skin. Recovery time for microdermabrasion is very minimal. Once the procedure is finished you should feel refreshed and expect a healthy glow to your skin. Most patients are able to leave and proceed to normal activity once the treatment has finished.
Candidates for microdermabrasion should expect finer wrinkles to soften and a lessening of superficial skin discoloration. Microdermabrasion can also help smooth the skin’s surface, and, again, provide a healthy glow too. Often patients who receive microdermabrasion also opt for a superficial chemical peel, which can extend the results of the treatment and help give an even look to the entire area of treatment.
What is Dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion, though it sounds similar, has much more drastic results with a much longer recovery time. Dermabrasion uses a handheld device to peel one or many layers of the skin until the smoothest possible layer is acquired. The procedure uses a hand-held device with a rotating wheel and wire brush that peels off the skin. It requires general or local anesthesia and can inflict slight discomfort. The procedure can last 30 minutes to two hours depending on the size and depth of the resurfacing. Almost all resurfacing is concentrated on the face and cannot be performed on the neck or other area. (Microdermabrasion can be performed on the neck).
Dermabrasion is almost purely cosmetic and often used for scar or tattoo removal (yet modern laser treatments may be more effective). The results bring a much smoother and even layer of skin to the treated area. Recovery time for dermabrasion is much longer than microdermabrasion, and lasts anywhere from 10-14 days depending on the severity of the resurfacing. The skin will feel sore, red, and swollen. Antibiotics are usually required to prevent infection while painkillers are often used to numb the pain. You are required to not smoke or drink for 72 hours after the procedure, as well; makeup should be avoided within that time. It is also required to stay out of the sun for at least three months after the treatment. Certain medications should be avoided including ibuprofen and aspirin. While microdermabrasion focuses on skin cells that are either already dead or very close to it, dermabrasion removes several layers of skin, requiring a much longer time for the skin to heal. Between two and eight weeks of downtime compared to an in-and-out procedure of microdermabrasion is a big difference!
Knowing all of that, it’s easy to see microdermabrasion is a much simpler and less drastic version of dermabrasion. Again, which procedure you choose will depend on how drastic of results you’re looking for, the amount of pain and discomfort you can withstand, and the range of time you want to spend recovering. As well, both procedures may not be for you and you feel more comfortable with a chemical peel or laser resurfacing. The best way to know these answers is to consult your local medical provider or plastic surgeon to help guide you through the process of receiving smoother and healthier looking skin.