Risks Associated With Microderm Abrasion Skin Resurfacing

Microdermabrasion may be one of the most popular non-surgical skin resurfacing procedures but it’s not completely free of risks or contraindications (no cosmetic treatment is completely safe; if there were such a treatment, everyone would only have that). This is the complete list of side effects associated with microderm abrasion (some experienced by people I know myself).

One thing you cannot ignore is your medical history. It gives you useful clues as to which procedures suit you and which don’t. Fortunately, there was nothing major in my medical history to prevent me from having microabrasion but I had to see a doctor first to get the all-clear.

Contraindications Of Microdermabarasion

Can I have microdermabrasion if… is a common question I get, particularly for three conditions:

With both teenagers and pregnant or nursing women, hormones can inhibit or change the effects of microderma abrasion. It’s best to wait until the hormones settle down before having it.

The third condition I often get asked about:

  • Can I have micro abrasion if I am/have been on Accutane recently?

I understand that you want to get rid of your acne scars as soon as possible, now that Accutane has cleared your breakouts, but doing so may cause serious damage to your skin. Accutane increases skin sensitivity which is why you should wait 6-12 months before having ANY skin resurfacing technique, not just micro derma abrasion. The same applies to recent laser surgery.

Most doctors also agree that micro dermabrasion is not recommended to keratosis sufferers, people with undiagnosed lesions, active rosacea or acne (although people with mild acne have seen good results), weeping acne (stages 3 to 4), diabetes, auto-immune disorders, fragile capillaries, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis or lupus. Microderm also has no visible on active herpes lesions or malignant skin tumors (warts).

Usually, the best microdermabrasion candidates are those with acne-prone skin or blotchy skin, fine scars, rhytides, enlarged pores, milia, sebaceous hyperplasia and those with sun-damaged skin.

What Are The Side Effects Of Micro Derma Abrasion?

There is only one, though minor, risk associated with microdermabrasion: tampering with the skin’s color balance (in other words, you may get dark or light patches from micro dermabrasion). It’s important to remember that scarring and pigmentary changes are common complications for other skin rejuvenation techniques, like laser resurfacing, dermal abrasion and chemical peels.

The reason the risk is so small with microderm abrasion is because it’s a very gentle procedure. It only removes the top layer of skin (which is formed only of dead skin cells), leaving the live tissue underneath intact. However, it’s a well known fact that people with darker skin (Type IV, V and VI on the Fitzpatrick Scale — see below) are more prone to pigment problems and while the risk of micro dermabrasion tampering with the pigmentary equilibrium is very small (smallest of all rejuvenation procedures) with darker skin types, it’s still there.

Fitzpatrick Skin Scale

  • Type I: Your skin is white; it always burns in the sun and never tans.
  • Type II: Your skin is white; it usually burns in the sun and tans with difficulty.
  • Type III: Your skin is white; it burns mildly in the sun and tans moderately.
  • Type IV: Your skin is moderate brown; it rarely burns and tans easily.
  • Type V: Your skin is dark brown; it rarely burns and tans very easily.
  • Type VI: Your skin is black; it never burns and tans very easily.

The Fitzpatrick Scale helps dermatologists predict how our skin might react to different cosmetic procedures and tell which techniques are best suited for it. For example, a Fitzpatrick Type I person will respond better to laser resurfacing for wrinkle removal than a Type IV.

What Are The Risks Associated With Microderm?

The general consensus is that micro dermabration is not a risky procedure but just like earthquakes can happen, there are things that could go wrong during or after microderma abrasion.

  1. When the microdermabrasion machine is not properly handled or has not been properly sterilized, it can result in hyperpigmentation, skin injuries or infections (extremely rare, but possible).
  2. It’s also possible to inhale micro crystals from the microderm machines used during the procedure. Aluminum oxide crystals, however, (the most common abrasive agent used in micro dermabrasion) cause no allergic or adverse reactions. They are neither toxic nor non-carcinogenic. Ingesting micro crystals in extremely large quantities, however, can cause respiratory problems – but so would dust – (extremely unlikely, but possible).
  3. A few years back, I read about people having eye problems after stray crystals from microbrasion machines found their way into the eyes during treatment. These days, however, all plastic surgeries, spas and beauty salons offer special eye protection (plastic or rubber goggles) during microderm abrasion.
  4. I have increased sun sensitivity, flaking and redness after micro dermabrasion and some people also see temporary discoloration in the skin. These are fairly common reactions but not if they persist.

Next, home microdermabrasion kits help eliminate most of the problems mentioned above, though at the expense of effectiveness.

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