Microdermabrasion is a general term that refers to the process of applying very tiny rough grains of crystals, diamonds and bristle tips to peel off the outermost surface of the skin. It is a cosmetic technique whose aim is to remove the topmost layer of the skin called the stratum corneum to create a rejuvenating effect and treat common skin problems such as acne scarring and mild discoloration, sun damage and wrinkles. It is in effect a painless, non-surgical procedure meant to get rid of the dead outer covering of the skin by applying fine abrasive crystals and vacuum suction to the skin. Typically, the process requires no needles or anesthetics, just a piece of sandpaper or facial scrub, or more technically, a simple machine composed of a vacuum suction, a connecting tube, a pump and a hand piece.
Microdermabrasion can be helpful in the treatment of common skin problems ranging from acne scars to sun damage and even more severe problems such as melasma and hyperpigmentation. The procedure can be administered to patients from the age of 12 up to 65 and can be done as frequently as about two weeks depending on the skin’s sensitivity and tolerance. Since the human outer skin typically regenerates itself every 30 days, microdermabrasion has to be done on a regular basis or in weekly sessions in order to record significant improvement on the skin’s cosmetic health.
Microdermabrasion is closely related to its mother term, dermabrasion, the latter of which is a deeper exfoliation of the outermost layer of the skin. One of the advantages of microderm over dermabrasion is that it is less risky and has a more rapid recovery rate. Essentially, the deeper the peel, the more time it takes to heel and the more risks involved. Therefore microdermabrasion has very minimal risks and side effects. However, a few possible side effects include the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, skin tightness, fine broken blood vessels and light bleeding. Although other parts of the body such as the neck, chest, hands and legs can be treated with microdermabrasion, the face is the most common area to be so treated. After this simple cosmetic procedure, the skin has been reported to look smoother, softer and rejuvenated with the increased production of collagen.
Uses and Benefits
Microdermabrasion is used for the treatment of a wide range of skin problems. It is the use of a mechanical process of abrasion to peel off the outermost part of the epidermis to get a better looking skin. Since 1985 when the first microdermabrasion unit was developed in Italy, it has helped with the treatment of acne scars and discolorations, hyperpigmentation, sun damage and melasma. It is also used, especially in recent times, as an effective alternative to plastic surgery which is more invasive and costlier. Many people continually use it as a means to instantly ‘lift’ their appearance. The process takes off the outer layer of the skin, and with the healing comes newer skin cells that make the skin appear softer and healthier. And because of the reduction in thickness of the skin’s layers brought about by this procedure, the skin’s sensitivity is greatly enhanced and this causes it to absorb more nutrients and ingredients from moisturizing creams as well as improve the overall appearance of makeup on the face.
Microdermabrasion is a simple and non-invasive cosmetic operation which usually takes about two to 60 minutes to perform. It is typically done by a dermatologist or cosmetician with a machine designed specifically for the procedure. It can also be done at home using some special facial scrubs and sandpapers, followed by the application of moisturizing creams and essential oils to the new layer of skin on the surface. Whatever method is used, it remains basically a painless medical procedure which requires no anesthetic or needles. The machine is built with crystals such as sodium chloride, aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide and diamonds which are pressurized by the pump to produce an abrasion of the skin. The vacuum raises a small section of the skin which the machine works on and thereafter removes the crystals and abraded skin cells.
Therefore, the speed of the machine over the skin and the number of passes made determines the effectiveness of the treatment. The skin is stretched to achieve tension in the area in order to get the best abrasion. When this is done, what is observed can be described as a mild pinkness of the skin which usually normalizes within a few minutes to a few hours after the abrasion, and if the process is repeated in secession for weeks, the results can be impressive. For best results, experts recommend multiple treatment regimens ranging from six to twelve sessions.
A typical microdermabrasion may be done by first preparing the skin for the operation by cleaning off all make up and oils on the surface. Eye protection is also necessary as crystals may get into the eyes in the process if not covered. Then the handheld device is moved across the skin slowly and repeatedly until enough outer skin is exfoliated from the surface. No needles or anesthetics are needed.
Because microdermabrasion only involves the epidermis and not the delicate portions of the skin, negative effects resulting from the procedure have been reduced to the barest minimum. Photosensitivity is a common side effect after the process of exfoliating the skin. This is due to the fact that new cells have been deployed to the abraded area and they are very sensitive to sunlight and even touch. Thus it is advised to always keep out of the sun and wear a sunscreen in cases where you have to go out. Skin tightness, bruising and redness may also be observed shortly after the process, but these do not persist for long as affected areas usually don’t take long to heal. The side effects of microdermabrasion are generally mild and only in rare cases would there be relative emergencies like broken blood vessels and bleeding. Obviously, the more benefits a microderm procedure promises, the greater the potential side effects.