How Dermabrasion Is Performed

Dermabrasion is typically an outpatient surgery that is performed in a surgeon's office of an outpatient facility. Before the surgery is performed, the doctor will meet with the patient and discuss points of the procedure, including what kind of anesthetic will be used (dermabrasion requires local anesthetic), what results the patient can expect and how the procedure is performed. Before the procedure takes place, the surgeon will probably choose to take a photo of their patient in order to compare skin conditions before and after the surgery.

Before Dermabrasion Surgery

Before the surgery, the skin is cleansed with an antiseptic agent. Medication may be taken by the patient prior to the surgery in order to relax. Dermabrasion is a procedure that requires the skin to be frozen, and most of the time this is achieved through the use of ice packs or a freezing spray. After the skin has been frozen, the surgeon uses a high-speed rotary tool with either a small wheel or a wire brush to abrade away an outer layer of old skin. This leaves a scab that lasts for about a week, and as it comes off, new skin is revealed underneath. Dermabrasion is a procedure meant to remove acne scars on the surface of the skin and make deeper scars less visible.


Microdermabrasion is a procedure that is in many ways similar to dermabrasion, except the results are more subtle. Instead of freezing the skin and effectively "sanding" a layer off, microdermabrasion only removes the dead skin cells on the surface of the skin as a means to "polish" it.

Microdermabrasion does not require an anesthetic - local or general. Instead of using a tool with an abrasive surface, the surgeon uses a hand-held tool that sprays the skin with crystals and vacuums them up in a closed loop. When the crystals get vacuumed up, so do the dead skin cells they dislodged. Microdermabrasion is less invasive other dermabrasion procedures, and the discomfort to the patient both during and after the surgery is decreased. The results are less dramatic than dermabrasion, and therefore the recovery time is much shorter.

Laser Dermabrasion

Some physicians may choose to use a laser for dermabrasion. The laser allows for better control and accuracy during the surgery. The tools used in dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are only appropriate for the removal of a limited number of skin imperfections, and the use of a laser allows for a greater range of uses. Lasers can remove acne scars as well as birthmarks, moles, warts and facial hairs, but they are most effective when used to remove shallow scars. 

These differing dermabrasion techniques are used in varying circumstances, ranging from what the patient wants removed from the skin, the surgeon's and patient's preference in the tools used in the procedure and how long the patient can spend on recovery time afterward. All of these are discussed before the surgery takes place. 

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