Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive skin treatment where a finely abrasive technique is used to buff away the outermost layer of the skin.
After a few sessions, the new skin layer usually appears smoother and younger looking.
What is microdermabrasion used for?
Microdermabrasion is typically used as a cosmetic procedure to treat wrinkles, sun-induced pigmentation (darkened skin), acne scarring, enlarged pores and ‘stretch marks’. It may be combined with medications applied on the skin to treat acne.
What does microdermabrasion involve?
The exact procedure may differ from clinic to clinic. Your skin will probably first be cleansed of any makeup.
You will then have tiny crystals sprayed onto your skin by a hand-held device while vacuum suction is used to remove the used crystals and skin cell debris. Some microdermabrasion devices use diamond-tipped wands, instead of crystals, to buff the skin.
Local anaesthesia to numb the skin is usually not required, although you may experience mild and temporary discomfort and skin redness afterwards.
Following the procedure, you will probably be asked to use sunscreen or avoid sun exposure for a few days.
Microdermabrasion usually consists of a series of six treatments, approximately two weeks apart, followed by less frequent maintenance treatment.
Is microdermabrasion safe?
If performed properly by trained personnel, microdermabrasion is said to have minimal side effects. However, if performed aggressively (such as prolonged applications of high-pressure settings), bruising or pinpoint bleeding may occur. Scarring and infection are considered rare.
Is microdermabrasion effective?
Multiple treatment sessions are usually needed to improve the appearance of fine wrinkles and minor acne scarring. As microdermabrasion only acts on the outermost skin layer, it is not as effective as aggressive therapies - such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing - for deeper wrinkles and scars.
However, microdermabrasion has the advantages of:
- being considered relatively painless
- having minimal risks (if performed properly)
- not needing any time off for recovery.
The effectiveness of microdermabrasion in treating pigmentation and acne is uncertain. Microdermabrasion does not ‘tighten’ age-related sagging skin of the face and neck.
If you are considering microdermabrasion, discuss your expectations as well as the number and frequency of treatments required for results with your clinic.
There is a risk that microdermabrasion can spread infections from one part of your skin to another. So you should not have microdermabrasion if you have skin infections such as impetigo, or have had warts, herpes and other viral infections. Sometimes it can make other conditions like rosacea flare up.
Last reviewed: March 2017