How Much Do You Really Know About Microdermabrasion?

Jun 03, 2019

Microdermabrasion is a gentler way to exfoliate the skin of the face than the more traditional dermabrasion. Exfoliation means to remove the very top layer of skin, which is full of dry, dead cells. This improves the look of fine lines, some scars, areas of hyperpigmentation, rough texture and sun damage. Microdermabrasion is popular because it can be used on many types and shades of skin. People with dark skin are discouraged from receiving other types of skin care procedures because they may end up with areas of uneven pigmentation.

The Food and Drug Administration approved microdermabrasion in 1996. Unlike dermabrasion and other more intensive treatments, the patient doesn’t need anesthesia, either topical or local, during a session. The procedure is usually performed by a dermatologist or a licensed aesthetician. Depending on where the treatment is done, a dermatologist may be on hand to supervise the licensed aesthetician or skin care specialist.

A microdermabrasion facial is done in the specialist’s office. First, the patient and the skin care specialist have a consultation to make sure that the patient is a good candidate for the treatment. A good candidate is in good general health, has realistic expectations and doesn't have active skin lesions such as eczema. The specialist tells the patient what will happen during microdermabrasion and how to take care of their skin before and after their treatment. For example, the patient should stay out of the sun or a tanning salon and not wax or use an exfoliant at least a week before the treatment.

What Happens During a Microdermabrasion Session?

During a session, the patient relaxes in a treatment chair. There are several ways for the skin care specialist to perform microdermabrasion. In one method, they exfoliate the face with a wand fitted with a diamond burr. In another, a wand sprays fine crystals of baking soda against the skin, and in yet another the skin is exfoliated with distilled water, saline solution or water infused with nutrients. A small vacuum cannula is used to suck away any debris, and the skin care professional applies moisturizer to the patient’s skin to keep it hydrated. A microdermabrasion session lasts about an hour, and the patient resumes their usual schedule soon after it’s over.

The skin care specialist tells the patient to make sure their skin stays hydrated after they go home and to wear sunscreen if they have to go out in the sun. The patient should also take it easy for a few days and avoid heat and humidity.

Questions and Answers

Q: How much does microdermabrasion cost?

A: The average cost of microdermabrasion in the United States is about $137.

Q: Does medical insurance cover it?

A: Since it is an elective procedure, most health insurance doesn’t cover it.

Q: Is microdermabrasion only for the face?

A: No, microdermabrasion can also be done on the neck, the décolleté and the hands.

Q: Are there any side effects to microdermabrasion?

A: Common side effects are a bit of redness and swelling, but these will resolve after a few hours.

Q: Can a patient come back for more treatments?

A: A patient can return for more microdermabrasion treatments. Indeed, most patients need to have more than one treatment for optimal results. The sessions are scheduled about four to eight weeks apart. Maintenance treatments are also recommended.

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