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:
- No more age spots on the face, neck, decolette and arms
- Less visible lines around the mouth
- Red spots and acne scars on my cheeks, chin and forehead gone (I still have 2-3 deeper scars on my cheeks which are still visible but fading nicely)
- No more blemishes
- Stretch marks from my pregnancies diminished
- I look 5 years younger (or so I’m told)
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:
- The least invasive dermatological procedure
- More affordable than surgical skin care treatments
- Available as home micro dermabrasion systems and kits
- Has no side effects
- Effective on all skin types and colors (including sensitive skin and black skin)
- Does not need anesthesia when performed at a beauty salon or physician’s office (unlike micro laser peel and dermabrasion)
- Gives the skin a healthy-looking glow
Next, some of the over-the-counter microderm products I’ve tried.