Potential Side Effects of Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a common cosmetic procedure used by dermatologists to remove scars and age spots. This relatively safe procedure is an alternative to more invasive techniques such as laser resurfacing and chemical peels. It utilizes a crystal spray or a diamond headed wand to erode the cells on the surface of the skin. The microdermabrasion apparatus is designed so that the crystals and abraded skin cells are funneled through a closed loop, which prevents the particles from dispersing into the atmosphere. Although microdermabrasion is safe, there are side effects and potential risks associated with the procedure.

Common Side Effects

After undergoing a microdermabrasion treatment, the skin may appear red and dry. Itchy skin is also a common complaint after the procedure. The redness will subside within a day. Flaky skin may appear a few days after the procedure, indicating that the skin is healing naturally. Individuals with sensitive skin are more likely to experience these side effects. The facial skin is more prone to the side effects of microdermabrasion than the neck or upper chest.

Altering Color Balance

A more significant side effect of microdermabrasion is the creation of light and dark patches of skin. Since microdermabrasion removes the top layer of skin, it will appear differently than the surrounding skin which haven't been treated. Those with darker skin are more likely to have visibly lighter patches after being treated with microdermabrasion.

Complications with Acne

Microdermabrasion can be used to treat mild acne, but the procedure will cause an initial increase in the number of acne spots on the skin. This occurs when bacterial expelled from clogged pores spread to the surface of the skin. The temporary outbreak should subside and eventually the skin will appear clear.

If you use Accutane or Retin-A for acne, do not undergo microdermabrasion. Accutane increases skin sensitivity and leaves the skin vulnerable. Consult with your dermatologist about discontinuing accutane, before undergoing microdermabrasion.

Complications with Hormonal Fluctuations

Microdermabrasion may not be effective when hormone levels are unstable. The ability of the skin to regenerate after the procedure could be inhibited. This usually is a concern for teenagers and pregnant or nursing mothers.

Procedural Risks

Improper handling of the microdermabrasion machine can lead to minor injuries. One possible risk is exposure to the crystals used to exfoliate the skin. Although rare, it is possible for the crystals to get into the eye or inhaled into the lungs. Eye irritation and temporary breathing problems are usually the extent of the exposure. The crystals are non-toxic and don't pose a long term health risk. 

Infection is a possibility as well if the microdermabrasion machine isn't properly maintained. Usually, the culprit is a spray tip which hasn't been sterilized. Another possibility is that the crystals have been reused for multiple sessions. These problems can be avoided with diamond microdermabrasion, which doesn't use crystals.

Preventive Steps

The best way to avoid problems after a microdermabrasion procedure is to protect the skin. Applying moisturizers to the skin can reduce dryness and flaking. Since the skin is very sensitive after the procedure, avoid direct sunlight to reduce irritation and redness.

Have specific questions?

All Article Categories

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions