Recently cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, microdermabrasion is the latest technology available in the world of skin rejuvenation. Sometimes referred to as a “power peel” or “lunch time peel,” this non-chemical, non-surgical procedure can reduce or eliminate the superficial effects of aging, sun exposure, and injury with minimal discomfort and virtually no side effects. Treatment is quick (about 30 minutes), and patients can return immediately to their daily activities.
How does it work?
The microdermabrasion process is safe and affordable because it is so simple. Gentle suction delivered through a special handpiece is used to direct a stream of very fine crystals over the surface of the skin. The gentle abrasive action of the crystals removes the rough outer layer of the skin to reveal the smoother, softer layer beneath. Because it is so gentle, the microdermabrasion process works equally well on all colors of skin.
What can be treated?
Used in our practice since 1998, microdermabrasion has proven effective in reducing the superficial signs of sun-damaged skin including fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots, as well as other blemishes such as superficial pigmentation, enlarged pores, oily and acne-prone skin, blackheads and whiteheads, and acne scars. Clinical trials are currently on-going regarding the effectiveness of microdermabrasion for stretch marks.
What is the treatment like?
After an in-depth evaluation by our medical skin care specialist, an individual treatment program is created for each patient. The treatments are performed in our office and may take 15-45 minutes depending upon the severity of the condition and the area being treated. A typical program might include an initial package of 4-6 treatments spaced 7-10 days apart, followed by periodic touch-up treatments as needed.
Most patients experience little or no discomfort during or after treatment, and may return to normal activities immediately. After the first treatment, the skin will have a fresh, pink glow for several hours and will be softer, smoother, and healthier looking right away. Cosmetics can be applied over a nonirritating moisturizer immediately after the procedure. Improvement continues throughout the treatment program. Because there are essentially no side effects, there is no limit to the number of treatments a patient can receive.
What are the alternatives?
Until now, our choices for restoring the skin’s youthful appearance have been limited. Glycolic acid treatments, while popular, are quite superficial and do not remove as much of the rough, dead outer skin layer as the microdermabrasion process. Up to 12 glycolic peels may be required to duplicate the effects of just 3 microdermabrasion treatments. In addition, the microdermabrasion process eliminates the risk of an adverse reaction to the conventional peel and is more predictable in the way it interacts with the skin.
Laser skin resurfacing, a technique that has largely replaced dermabrasion and deep chemical peels, is a remarkable procedure for treating more advanced sun-damage, deeper lines and wrinkles, and serious acne scarring. This more aggressive procedure can provide dramatic results but requires sedation, is more expensive, and can only be performed on lighter skin types.