Dermabrasion Common Questions

What is a dermabrasion used for?

Dermabrasion is used to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, chicken pox scars, facial pitting, tattoo removal and some pigmentation issues. In general, dermabrasion is an effective method of resurfacing, or refinishing, the skin to provide a smoother texture and even-toned complexion.

By using an abrasive tool to remove the top layers of skin, dermabrasion can decrease the difference in depth between smooth skin and areas of pitting, lines or scarring. By doing so, the prominence of these indentations is lessened and the skin is given a smoother appearance.

What conditions does a dermabrasion treat?

Dermabrasion is most often used to reduce the appearance of scarring and the signs of aging. It can also be used to effectively remove keratoses (precancerous skin growths) and some pigmentation issues, such as melasma.

Who is a candidate for dermabrasion?

Patients who are in good overall health, have not experienced a recent sunburn, radiation treatment or chemical peel, and are free of current acne or skin conditions are good candidates for dermabrasion. Other considerations include your ability to avoid sun exposure during the recovery period and the natural color of your skin. Patients with lighter skin tones generally experience better results.

Who is not a candidate for dermabrasion?

Patients who have experienced a severe sunburn, radiation treatment or recent chemical peel; have darker skin tones; have taken Accutane in the last 18 months; have skin sensitivities; have a history of cold sores or herpes; or who are not in good overall health should request a consultation to discuss their candidacy for dermabrasion.

How is a dermabrasion performed?

Dermabrasion most often takes place in an outpatient facility, such as a cosmetic medspa or a dermatological office. The procedure can be performed while the patient is sedated, using local anesthesia, or in some cases, using general anesthesia.

The skin is prepared for treatment by cleansing with antiseptic, then freezing the skin with a Freon spray. The practitioner then uses a hand-held, motorized rotary tool that has an abrasive brush or wheel. The abrasive material on the head of the instrument may be sandpaper, small wires, or a sanding wheel with diamond particles.

This instrument is used to resurface the treatment area by carefully removing the top layers of the skin and exposing new underlying skin, resulting in a smoother complexion with a more even tone and color after the recovery period.

What is the recovery from a dermabrasion like?

For the first few days following the treatment, patients can expect their skin to feel as though it has been abraded, similar to what you might expect from a scraped knee or elbow. During the first two days the skin will be swollen and a scab will form over the treatment area. After a few days more, the swelling will subside and the scabbing and the top layer of exposed skin will begin to come off. During this time, it is likely that your doctor will prescribe medication to relieve the pain, and possibly an antibiotic to inhibit infection.

After this top layer comes off, the skin will have a distinct pink tone, similar to a sunburn. Gradually, over the next 4-8 weeks, your skin will regain its natural color.

During the recovery period, it is very important that sun exposure is kept to a minimum, or avoided altogether. During the first two weeks following the procedure, strenuous activities, shaving and any activity that might irritate the skin should be avoided.

When do I see the results from the dermabrasion?

Patients will generally see full results 4-6 weeks after receiving dermabrasion.

How many dermabrasion treatments are needed?

Patients with mild to moderate scarring and minimal fine lines and wrinkles will likely see dramatic improvement after a single dermabrasion treatment, which is generally adequate to achieve the desired results. Multiple treatments may be required for deeper scarring.

In some cases, depending on the condition of the skin and the severity of the condition to be treated, a series of progressive treatments may be recommended by your specialist.

When can one return to work after treatment?

When you choose to return to work depends largely on the type of work that you do. In general, patients can return to work activities within a few days after treatment; however, patients may choose to extend that period due to the appearance of their skin. Once the skin has healed, generally 7-10 days after the procedure, make up can be worn to camouflage your skin as it continues to return to its normal color and heal completely.

It is also important to consider the amount of sun exposure your skin will receive at work. If you work outdoors, sunscreen is of the utmost importance and you may want to extend your recovery period to limit sun exposure during the healing process.

What are advantages of dermabrasion over other procedures?

When compared to chemical peels, patients who receive dermabrasion generally experience fewer instances of loss of pigmentation.

Dermabrasion generally offers faster healing and shorter periods of redness after treatment, when compared to laser peels. Also, dermabrasion is generally more affordable.

Are dermabrasions approved for use in USA?

Yes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of both rotary and manual dermabrasion devices in the USA. They are categorized as Class I medical devices and are classified as devices that do not pose a significant risk.

Does insurance cover dermabrasion?

In some cases dermabrasion will be covered as a necessary medical treatment by your health insurance provider. The instances where medical insurance will cover dermabrasion procedures generally include when dermabrasion is used as a reconstructive procedure to reduce the appearance of certain types of scars, or when this treatment is used to remove keratoses, which are precancerous skin growths.

Contact your local DermaNetwork specialist to discuss this option to determine whether or not your dermabrasion procedure is eligible for coverage through insurance.

What is the cost of dermabrasion?

The cost of dermabrasion treatments vary depending on geographical location, type of anesthesia used, size of the treatment area, provider fees, and the setting in which the procedure is performed – for example, in a hospital versus in a cosmetic medspa.

Most dermabrasion treatments are now performed as outpatient procedures in an office or medspa setting, which has reduced the average cost in recent years. Generally speaking, dermabrasion costs are a few thousand dollars.

Because the cost is dependent on a number of variables, the best way to determine the cost for your specific dermabrasion needs is to contact you local DermaNetwork cosmetic medspa or cosmetic dermatologist to discuss the procedure and fees.

By Staff
Updated: May 29, 2009

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