Micro Dermabrasion Versus Dermabrasion

I've only had dermabrasion once about 4 years on an ugly scar I had on my face and let me tell you, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion may sound alike but they are as different as apples and oranges. The main difference between derma abrasion and microdermabrasion is that microderma peels off only the top 10-15 microns (which is a very fine layer) whereas dermabrasion exfoliates much deeper. This makes it more effective but also more invasive (and less attractive as a result).

What Do Micro Abrasion and Dermabrasion Do?

Many of you will be concerned above all, with cost, but cost is irrelevant if the procedure doesn't do what you need it to do. Dermabrasion dramatically improves the appearance of the skin. It can treat deep wrinkles, scars, different skin lesions and hyperpigmentation. Despite long recovery times and relatively high cost, it's a great way to resurface the skin and get rid of more severe imperfections.

Microabrasion, on the other hand, is not as effective on deep wrinkles and scars, because it only removes a very fine layer skin. But the gentle peeling can help remove fine lines, superficial scars, stretch marks, age and sunspots and it can also help with acne. Basically, microderm abrasion improves the overall complexion but also removes some mild imperfections.

A big pro of microdermabrasion is that, unlike dermabrasion and other procedures (laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels, etc), it can be used on the neck. The skin on the neck area is very sensitive and has an increased risk of scarring which is why it needs a gentle procedure (and microderma fits the bill).

With derma abrasion, each new treatment helps improve the appearance of your skin by 20-50%, depending on condition, doctor experience, the machine used during treatment, skin type and lifestyle. The results are permanent (in cosmetic surgery that means 12 months or more), making it an effective solution for acne scar removal, skin growth and tattoo removal.

Dermabrasion, however, cannot prevent the appearance of new wrinkles (that would make it nothing short of miraculous). If you want to repeat the treatment you must wait until your skin recovers completely from previous dermabrasions (which can take up to 12 months).

I used derma abrasion for a very specific purpose: a deep scar on my face. Once recovered, I had three full microdermbrasion treatments for skin rejuvenation. I would not use dermbrasion to achieve general improvement because it's too invasive but I would not hesitate having it for a specific problem.

Microderm and Dermabrasion Cost Difference

When I first had dermabrasion, microderm was a virtually unknown procedure. For the deep scar I had, though, micodermabrasion couldn't have helped me anyway and derma abrasion was the procedure I settled for in the end. However, dermabrasion is more expensive compared to microdermabrasion. It can cost between $1,500 and $4,000, depending on the size and depth of peeling. For example, you can expect to pay around $3,000 to get rid of the acne scars on your cheeks, while a lip treatment costs around $1,500.

This cost does not include the price of anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay and any other expenses which can add up to another $2,000-$4,000. Sometimes medical insurance covers the cost of dermabrasion if its main purpose is scar removal or reducing cancerous skin growth, burns or other severe injuries.

Microdermabrasion is much more affordable and accessible which is why I've been having it for the last 3 years. The cost of microdermabrasion treatment in spas, beauty centers and doctor offices is around $70-$250 per abrasion but you'll need 10 sessions on average to achieve notable results.

Differences Between Microbrasion And Dermabrasion Procedures

We can talk about cost all day but unless you understand what happens to your skin during both procedures, you won't be able to decide for (or against) one or both of them.

How Does Dermabrasion Work?

Derma abrasion uses a power-driven, hand-held device with a rotating metal wheel, diamond fraise or wire brush to peel off the skin. It needs general or local anesthetic (depending on the area being treated). The doctor usually cleanses the skin with antiseptic gel beforehand, to prevent infection. Dermabrasion can last anywhere between a few minutes to two hours (depending on the size and depth of the resurfacing).

My skin felt sore, red and swollen immediately after treatment and was extremely sensitive for about 10 days afterwards. The first few days after treatment are, without a doubt, the worst part. I had to take antibiotics to prevent infection, painkillers and my skin showed scabbing and uneven pigmentation (but these reactions were to be expected).

Derma abrasion is a complicated skin resurfacing treatment with a difficult recovery. My doctor told me not to smoke or drink alcohol for 72 hours after treatment or use any make-up during the first 3 days. Other post-treatment don'ts include: no Retin-A for a month, no products that contain aspirin or ibuprofen for at least 7 days, no active sports for 6 to 8 weeks, no sun exposure for 3 months and no shaving or waxing for at least 2 weeks after the procedure.

Several days after the procedure, the swelling, redness and pain began to subside and the outer-most skin layer simply fell off, leaving my skin looking better (but a little pinkish). It was only 2-3 months later that my skin finally began to regain normal color and I could see my first real dermabrasion results.

My surgeon monitored the healing process during the first three months to make sure no complications occurred and I made sure to avoid sun exposure as told (I had the procedure in October because I didn't want to sacrifice a whole summer of going to the beach).

Derma abrasion is a one-session treatment which needs a yearly maintenance session. A full microderm abrasion treatment, on the other hand, has 6 to 12 sessions, scheduled 2 weeks apart (but it also needs a maintenance session every 2-3 months).

Eight weeks downtime for dermabrasion is a lot. Microdermabarasion, on the other hand, is a 'lunchtime peel', because it has virtually no downtime. Some minor redness aside, you can go back to work on the same day.

How Does Microabrasion Work?

Microderm abrasion involves the use of similar tool to that used in dermabration but it is not as aggressive on the skin. The doctor uses a hand-held, sandblaster-like device to spray and circulate high pressure flow of aluminum oxide crystals onto the skin. The crystals gently exfoliate the outermost layer of the skin.

Unlike dermabrasion, you can have microderm in a spa or beauty center or even at home (using a personal microdermabration system). A typical microdermbrasion treatment performed at a clinic takes between 30 and 60 minutes. It's important to understand that with dermabrasion, the results are dramatic whereas with microdermabrasion, the results come in small steps (I noticed some results after 6 abrasions but the full effect became visible after 12 micro abrasions).

The micro dermabration itself didn't hurt but my skin looked slightly red immediately after treatment (the redness faded after a few hours). I had no other adverse reactions but swelling and scabbing are possible (in which case you should see your doctor). The recovery is much easier and quicker with microderm than with dermibration but there is the trade-off in effectiveness.

Next, a few tips on personal microdermabrasion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Microderm Help Even Out Facial Scars?

A: Micro derma brasion pulverizes away the dead skin layer (the outermost layer) in order to even out skin texture and improve superficial facial scars. More severe facial scarring requires more invasive non-surgical techniques, like deep chemical peels or laser skin resurfacing.

Q: Can I Use Microdermal Abrasion After Glycolic Acid Peels?

A: You should not have microdermabration if you've had glycolic acid peeling (or any other kind of chemical peel) in the last 14 days because the two exfoliating procedures combined are too aggressive and might affect your skin's ability to recover. This applies to OTC kit and office treatment.

Q: How Frequently To Use Microderma For Biggest Improvement?

A: At-home micro abrasion should be used according to the instructions that come with the product (some are made for every-other day use, others can be applied only once a week). Dermatologist-performed micro derma abrasion is a whole different thing: the sessions need to be scheduled at least 1-2 weeks apart, so that the skin has enough time to heal. After you finish your treatment, you will need a maintenance session once every 2-3 months.

Q: Does Microabrasion Help Restore Pore Size?

A: Microdermabra products stimulate collagen growth which is why it's effective on enlarged pores. Collagen production is stimulated through skin exfoliation. Furthermore, the vacuum function of most micro derma brasion machines sucks out hardened oil, dust and other dirt which may clog your pores. This way, the oil in the glands can again reach the surface of your skin and your pores can return to their natural shape and size.

Q: Does Micro Abrasion Help Cure Hyperpigmentation?

A: Micoderm abrasion kit works on hyperpigmentation. The micro-crystal flow abrades the top layer of the skin where unevenly pigmented skin cells are stuck. Several specialist microdermabration sessions are required to even out skin tone and get rid of hyperpigmentation.

Q: Micro Abrasion Is It Recommended For Getting Smoother-Looking Skin?

A: Smoother-looking skin needs elasticity and density, both achievable through skin cell renewal. Micodermabrasion product abrades the outermost skin layer and stimulates skin renewal. An effective skin renewal process results in increased elasticity and density. Moreover, the vacuum function of the micro skin abrasion tool sucks up dirt and hardened oil to reveal an even skin texture and tone.

Q: How Do You Use Microderm Abrasion On Your Face?

A: The face is the most common treated area. If you choose beauty salon microabrasions. the specialist who performs it will adjust the settings of the machine for face micro derm abrasion. If you decide to do the procedure on your own, be sure to search for a specially designed facial microabrasion system.

Q: Is Personal Microbrasion As Good As Professional?

A: Both personal and professional micro derma abrasion work on the same principle and have the same reported results: reduction of fine lines, superficial scars, age spots and acne scars. But personal micro derma brasion procedures cannot offer the same effectiveness you get from professional microderma treatment on more severe skin imperfections.

Q: Does Microderm Help For Young Women?

A: Micro abrasion is safe for young women (and men) of all skin types but most doctors recommend it for girls aged 14 and older, mainly because they want to make sure that all major hormonal changes are over and the results of the procedure are as good as they can be.

Q: Does Neutogena Microderm Abrasion Work?

A: The Personal micro abrasion creams from Neutrogena works for some people and doesn't work for others. There are many satisfied consumers who say that Neutogena cream does make their face feel smother and look young. On the other hand, there are some unhappy people who say the kit is either too harsh, causing them skin irritation and breakouts, or not very effective in reducing superficial scars and fine wrinkles. The only way to find out if the kit is effective for you is to try to obtain a free sample and test the formula on your skin.