Dermabrasion is a common procedure in cosmetic surgery. The procedure is commonly done to resurface the skin. In essence, it uses a high speed rotating device which acts like sand paper and removes the damaged skin. The procedure removes most of the superficial skin and produces a result similar to what happens after scraping the skin. The skin does bleed during the procedure. After the procedure it takes 4-14 days for the skin to heal. The new skin is generally fresh and smoother in appearance.

When is dermabrasion indicated?

Dermabraison can be used to treat a number of skin conditions including:

- acne scars

- chicken pox scars

- tattoo removal

- liver spots

- sun damaged skin

- wrinkles

- uneven skin

- traumatic scars

How is dermabrasion performed?

Dermabrasion is a clinic procedure. There are no preparations required prior to the procedure. Once the facial area is cleaned, the physician may use either a cold spray or a local anesthetic to numb the skin. The rotating device with an abrasive brush is used to remove the superficial layer of the skin. All the old and damaged skin is removed. Once the procedure is done, the skin is covered with a dressing.

The factors that determine the degree of dermabrasion include the fineness/coarseness of the brush, the rotation speed, how much pressure is applied on the brush, the duration of treatment and the type of skin.

After the procedure, the skin will have a severe sunburn type appearance. The pain is usually mild. You will be prescribed special creams to help the healing occur. The newly formed skin is initially pink but gradually returns to normal color in 2 weeks. At this time, camouflage creams can be used. All individuals should avoid the sun to prevent excess darkening of the new skin. Sunscreens are highly recommended when going out. The final cosmetic result may not be seen for a few months.

Are there any possible complications?

Complications are rare but can occur after dermabraison and include:

- skin darkening: This may be permanent and bleaching agents may be required to fade the color

- skin lightening- this is rare but is permanent

- thick skin resembling a keloid

- scarring

- worsening of the skin condition

- redness

- swelling

- infection

Sun protection

After dermabrasion, you will need to wear sunscreen every day and avoid sun exposure as much as possible. New skin is more susceptible to damage and discoloration from sunlight. Sunscreens are recommended for at least 12 months.

Who should not undergo dermabraison?

Dermabrasion is not for everyone. Individuals who may not be candidates include:

- those who are on Retinoids. One has to wait for at least 12 months after stopping Retinoids.

- Those who have had recent surgery such as face lift

- Those who are prone to keloids

- Those who have an acute infection, herpes simplex, etc

- Those who have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinners

What are the limitations of dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is not a cure for all skin disorders and has limitations. It can not revise all scars, especially the deeper ones. Frequently the procedure has to be combined with other procedures such as dermal fillers to treat the deeper scars

One has to be realistic and well informed. The best improvement after dermabrasion is only 50% and these results are not seen for a few months after the procedure.


The cost for full face Dermabrasion is variable and ranges from $3000-5000. For partial dermabrasion of the face, the cost may range from $1000-3000.

Have specific questions?

All Article Categories

Before & After Photos

Suggested Doctors

Recently Asked Questions