Smoother skin without rough recovery

December 1, 2007

Microdermabrasion effectively rejuvenates the face without downtime or pain

Key Points

Dermabrasion has undergone a big change in recent years, with the growing popularity of a milder, less abrasive form known as microdermabrasion.

"The nice thing about the new form is that it can be done without any interruption in work or play," Dr. Schlessinger says. "Downtime has become the redheaded stepchild of dermatology. Women hate it and will do anything to avoid it. Microdermabrasion is a procedure that fits into their lifestyle."

Though the downtime is significantly reduced with microdermabrasion, so are the dramatic results associated with dermabrasion.

Nevertheless, microdermabrasion is effective at diminishing fine lines, brown spots, wrinkles, superficial acne scars, blemished or dull skin, thickened skin, sun-damaged skin, acne and enlarged pores. It will likely take between five and 12 treatments to get the best results, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

The microdermabrasion procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes. A topical aluminum oxide crystal or a salt-based crystal is applied to the face through a vacuum, which sloughs off dead skin from the surface layer. No pain is involved, Dr. Schlessinger says. "In fact, most patients say it's rather invigorating."

In addition, Dr. Schlessinger says just about anyone can have microdermabrasion. "In general, very few, if any, can't have it," he says. "Except those with rosacea, as it will exacerbate this condition."

Long-term results tend to be minimal, lasting about two to six weeks, he says. "I recommend my patients come back every month for a touch-up to keep up the benefits."

"The only significant risk I see is that of having the procedure performed by an unskilled professional," Dr. Schlessinger says. "I recommend going to a dermatology-based clinic, because their estheticians are better trained and more aware of the limitations and benefits of the procedures."

Furthermore, he says unskilled technicians are not always able to achieve the optimal outcome for the patient. "I see an awful lot of people who have had treatments performed outside dermatology offices who don't get the benefits, though they are using the same machines."

Dr. Schlessinger will often use the AFA Facial Clay-Peel System (Biopelle) in conjunction with microdermabrasion to clear up brown spots. "This process is excellent for lentigines and melasma, and can be done in conjunction with the microdermabrasions. Additionally, this product is only sold to dermatologists and plastic surgeons, which allows one more way for dermatologists to differentiate themselves," he says.

Other procedures to consider when looking to improve your skin are laser peels (both invasive and noninvasive), clay peels, acid peels and procedural-based exfoliation.

Disclosure: Dr. Schlessinger reports no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned in this article.