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Key facts

  • Microdermabrasion is a skin treatment that removes the top layer of the skin.
  • It is most often done as a cosmetic procedure to treat wrinkles, sunspots, scars and stretch marks.
  • Microdermabrasion is considered safe with minimal side effects if done correctly.
  • Several treatments are usually needed to get the wanted result.
  • Do not have microdermabrasion if you have a skin infection, skin condition, bleeding disorder, sores or sunburn.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive skin treatment that removes the top layer of the skin using tiny crystals or diamonds under control of a handheld tool.

Often several treatments are needed to obtain the required results.

What is microdermabrasion used for?

Microdermabrasion is typically used as a cosmetic procedure to treat:

  • wrinkles
  • acne
  • sun-induced pigmentation (darkened skin)
  • scars including acne scars
  • enlarged pores
  • stretch marks

What does microdermabrasion involve?

The exact procedure may differ from clinic to clinic. The skin is usually first cleansed with a mild cleanser and your eyes may be covered for protection.

Tiny crystals are then sprayed onto the 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.

A washcloth will usually be used to wipe any remaining crystals and debris, and a moisturiser applied.

What should I expect after microdermabrasion?

After microdermabrasion treatment you may experience:

  • mild and temporary discomfort
  • swelling
  • skin redness
  • red or purple spots caused by bleeding into the skin (petechiae)

Most people do not experience any side effects, and most don’t need a local anaesthetic to numb the skin.

After the procedure, you will need to use sunscreen or avoid sun exposure for a few days, as your skin will be more sensitive.

Is microdermabrasion safe?

If performed properly by trained personnel, microdermabrasion has few side effects and is considered safe.

What risks are involved with microdermabrasion?

Risks of microdermabrasion include:

  • spreading of infections from one part of your skin to another
  • eye irritation
  • reactivation of herpes in the area (if you previously had herpes)

You should not have microdermabrasion if you have a:

Is microdermabrasion effective?

Microdermabrasion is usually effective in improving the appearance of fine wrinkles and minor acne scarring after multiple treatment sessions. Because microdermabrasion only acts on the top skin layer it may not as effective as aggressive therapies, such as chemical peels and laser resurfacing.

These are alternatives to microdermabrasion. However, microdermabrasion has the advantages of:

  • being considered relatively painless
  • having minimal risks (if performed properly)
  • not needing any time off for recovery

If you are considering microdermabrasion, discuss your expectations as well as the number and frequency of treatments required for results with your clinic.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How do I find a qualified provider?

You can search online for a qualified provided in your area. Microdermabrasion can be performed in a clinic or medical spa by:

  • a trained clinician
  • aesthetician
  • medical assistant
  • nurse

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Resources and support

If you need further information, you can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


StatPearls (Microdermabrasion), Cochrane Library (Topical treatments and skin‐resurfacing techniques for skin ageing)

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2024

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