Dermabrasion is a technique that uses a wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges (called a burr or fraise) to remove the upper layers of the skin. The brush or burr rotates rapidly, taking off and leveling (abrading or planing) the top layers of the skin. This process injures or wounds the skin and causes it to bleed. As the wound heals, new skin grows to replace the damaged skin that was removed during dermabrasion.
Factors that affect the depth of the resurfacing include how coarse the burr or brush is, how quickly it rotates, how much pressure is applied and for how long, and the condition and features of your skin.
The face is the most common site for treatment, but other areas of the skin can be treated as well. Dermabrasion is used most often to improve the appearance of acne scars and fine lines around the mouth. It also may be used to treat an enlarged nose (rhinophyma) caused by rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition.
The areas to be treated are cleaned and marked. A anesthetic (such as lidocaine) is usually used to numb the skin before treatment, and ice packs are applied to the skin for up to 30 minutes. A freezing (cryogenic) spray may sometimes be used to harden the skin for deeper abrasions if the anesthetic and ice packs do not make the skin firm enough. For deep abrasions, or if the entire face is going to be treated, you may need stronger anesthesia, pain killers, sedation, or general anesthesia.
One small area at a time is treated. The freezing spray (if needed) is applied for a few seconds and then the rotating burr or brush is used to take off the top layers of skin. Gauze is used to stop any bleeding, and the area is covered with a clean dressing or ointment.
Dermabrasion is almost always done in your doctor’s office or on an outpatient basis.
Common temporary side effects of dermabrasion include:
- Redness. This usually fades within 6 to 12 weeks.
Depend on area.
Your recovery and healing time after dermabrasion depends on the size and depth of the area that was treated. Someone who has a full-face dermabrasion, for example, will require a longer recovery time than someone who has just a small area of skin treated. Deeper abrasions take longer to heal.
In general, regrowth of skin occurs within 5 to 8 days. This new skin is a pink or red color, which usually fades within 6 to 12 weeks. Until then, your normal skin tones can be achieved using makeup.
Many people have little or no pain and can get back to their regular activities soon after the procedure. Some people require pain relievers. If swelling occurs, a corticosteroid such as prednisone may be used to reduce the swelling.
- Flare-ups of acne or tiny cysts (milia). These can often be treated successfully with tretinoin. Antibiotics are sometimes needed.
- Increased color in the skin. The skin in the area that was treated may turn darker (hyperpigmentation) than the surrounding skin several weeks after dermabrasion.
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight.
Duration of Results: