What Is Microdermabrasion?

I'd never heard of microdermabrasion treatments until the spring of 2004, when I was browsing the net for a better cleansing gel. I came across a survey commissioned by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery which said that the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures in 2003 were Botox injections (I'd heard of that), laser hair removal (and that) and MICRODERMABRASION (but what the heck is that?). Three months later, I was in my favorite day spa and had it done. And I've been having it for the last three years. Here's what I know.

How Microdermabrasion Works

In a nutshell, microdermabrasion is a skin resurfacing treatment that uses tools or products designed for home use, in order to rejuvenate and restore natural glow to the skin. The micro dermabrasion procedure is simple and painless AND (this is the best part) is equally effective to surgical procedures (laser skin resurfacing, dermal abrasion) and chemical peels (for superficial skin imperfections only).

These days, micro abrasion can be performed at home, but it was originally performed by plastic surgeons who used hand-held machines (similar to sandblasters) to spray and circulate high-pressure crystal flow onto the skin.

Microdermabrasion machines are made of a compressor and pump that mix gentle abrasion with suction to peel the outer skin layer (10-15 microns of skin, a layer so thin that you can't see it). The entire procedure, unlike dermabrasion or laser skin surgery, doesn't take more than 30-60 minutes. You can have it on the face, neck, chest, back, feet and hands.

My first micro derm abrasion treatment was done professionally but many women I know started with a home microdermabrasion kit. These are definitely cheaper than seeing a plastic surgeon or going to a day or med spa, but it's tricky choosing a product that suits your skin. There are just so many home microdermabrasion kits available these days; some are decent but others are just a waste of time and money. I personally have found only a handful of products that worked for me (Neutrogena, Youthful Essence and Dermanew are the best of the bunch).

One of the things I love most about micro derm abrasion, be it the at-home or office version, is that it doesn't hurt at all (I have a low pain threshold so that was an important factor for me). Most people I talked to about microderm abrasion said that, at most, they felt a tingling sensation during treatment and a windburn-like sensation afterwards. The skin does look slightly red in the first 24 hours, but that's where the discomfort ends.

But the best part of microdermabrasion is that while it's equally effective to other, more invasive skin procedures, it allows you to get back to your daily routine immediately afterwards. One hour after treatment and I was back home, doing errands and picking my kids from school. There is a trade-off, though -- you may need between 5 and 12 microdermabrasions, scheduled 1-2 weeks apart for best results.

Why Choose Microabrasion?

Why did I choose microderm abrasion? Well, it has no downtime (it's called the "lunchtime procedure"), is similar to a facial massage (so not too aggressive) and the advertised results were good. So, 7 months and $1,200 later, here are the results:

Results After The First Treatment (first year)

After the first professional microdermabrasion treatment (12 abrasions scheduled 2 weeks apart) I noticed an overall improvement in skin complexion while the red spots and scars from my acne were definitely diminished. I followed with a maintenance abrasion 2 months afterwards.

Results After 3 Years

Over the following 2 years I had 2 micro dermabrasion treatments (10 sessions each) with maintenance, followed by 2 long breaks (5 months each) during which I used home microderm abrasion kits weekly for maintenance. In 2007, my microdermabrasion results include:

Basically, microdermabrasion results can do any or all of the following: revitalizes dull skin, reduces enlarged pores, erases fine lines, wrinkles and acne scars, treats hyperpigmentation (mild pigment irregularities), stretch marks and age spots.

Judging from personal experience, thousands of online reviews, discussions with dermatologists and tens of written articles and TV shows, cosmetic microderm abrasion is popular because it's:

Next, some of the over-the-counter microderm products I've tried.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Microdermabrasion Help Even Out Red Marks?

A: By removing the top layer of the skin, microdermabration diminishes or even removes superficial red marks. Deeper red marks require a more invasive procedure, like a deep chemical peel or laser skin resurfacing.

Q: Does Micro Derma Abrasion Help Young Women?

A: Micro derma 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: How Can Microderma Make Stretch Marks Improve?

A: Stretch marks appear on your skin as uneven skin tone and texture. By exfoliating the outermost layer of the skin, microdermibration kit evens out skin tone and texture, thus reducing or totally removing stretchmarks.

Q: Can Microbrasion Cause Age Spots?

A: No, microabrasions cannot cause age spots.

Q: Micro Dermabration Is It Good On The Eye Lids?

A: Home microderma tools should not be used on your eye-lids even if it's especially formulated as a face microdermabrasia cream. Using a face microabrasion cream on your eye lids may result in irritation or scarring (the lids are too thin and can easily be damaged). Surgeon-performed microabrasion is not suitable for use on eye lids either.

Q: Does Microdermabasion Make Skin Complexion Less Visible?

A: This procedure exfoliates the top layer of skin which consists of dead skin cells. Microdermabasion set stimulates collagen production, essential to healthy skin and also removes blotchy skin texture and tone.

Q: Who Is The Right Candidate For Microdermbrasion?

A: The right candidate for microdermabrasian is anyone over 14 who wants to get rid of superficial acne scars, blotchy skin, large pores, age or sun spots, fine wrinkles or uneven skin tone and texture. All skin types and colors can be treated with microdermabrasions. But if you are pregnant, nursing or suffering from a chronic skin disease, or have been on Accutane or had laser surgery recently, consult with a specialist before having this treatment.

Q: How Can Microdermal Abrasion Make Hyperpigmentation Fade?

A: Microdermabasion kit works on hyperpigmentation. The micro-crystal flow abrades the top layer of the skin where unevenly pigmented skin cells are stuck. Several office microderm abrasions are required to even out skin tone and get rid of hyperpigmentation.

Q: Is Microdermabration Good?

A: According to thousands of online testimonials, clinic microderm is good on superficial skin imperfections. But like with most non-surgical procedures, the results depend on your medical condition, your body's ability to recover and on who performs the procedure on you. Most patients who have tried micro derma abrasion say the procedure was effective in reducing fine lines, age spots, enlarged pores, acne scars, red marks, stretch marks and dull skin More severe skin imperfections cannot be improved with this non-invasive technique, because it only sandblasts the top layer of the skin, not being able to reach deeper layers of skin.

Q: Does Micro Derm Abrasion Work For Pimple Scars?

A: By removing the top layer of skin, micro abrasion evens out skin texture and helps improve superficial pimple scars. Deeper pimple scarring needs more invasive non-surgical techniques, like deep chemical peeling or laser facial resurfacing.