Thanks to cosmetic technology, you can now look younger than you are. One such non-invasive procedure is microdermabrasion.
Microdermabrasion is done to remove blemishes, scars and give you youthful skin. However, there are some very specific precautions you need to take and side effects you ought to know about, if you are contemplating a microdermabrasion session.
We give you the complete picture about microdermabrasion, from procedure to failures, alternatives to dos and don'ts.
- What Is Microdermabrasion?
- Microdermabrasion Treatment Procedure
- Best Alternatives To Microdermabrasion:
- Microdermabrasion Benefits
- Side Effects Of Microdermabrasion
- Microdermabrasion Failures
- How To Care For Your Skin After A Microdermabrasion Treatment?
- Chemical Peel Versus Microdermabrasion
- Micro-Needling Versus Microdermabrasion
- How Long Do The Effects Of Microdermabrasion Last?
- Who Should Avoid Microdermabrasion Treatment?
What Is Microdermabrasion?
The cosmetic procedure where a qualified professional removes your epidermis (top layer of the skin) with a handheld device is known as microdermabrasion. It is done to give the skin an even tone, a younger appearance and to remove scars.
Microdermabrasion does not give permanent results and needs several sessions to show effect. It is not painful as it is non-invasive.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, if done correctly by an expert, one session lasts for approximately one hour. The expert usually takes about 35-40 minutes for the face area and 20 minutes for the neck .
If you are undergoing microdermabrasion for younger looking skin and to reduce wrinkles, you may need anything from 5-16 sittings before you see visible results. There are home DIY kits also available these days. However, getting it done by a dermatologist is a safer option for your skin.
Microdermabrasion Treatment Procedure
There are different types of microdermabrasion procedures  available in the market. Depending on the area being worked on, the wand will gently sand away the top layer of the skin.
1. A Handpiece With A Diamond Tip:
Here, microdermabrasion is done to exfoliate and remove dead cells from the skin at the same time. This handpiece is mostly used for the more delicate areas of the face, like the thin skin near the eyes.
This is a more recent method for microdermabrasion where the skin is exfoliated and at the same time, hydrating ingredients are infused into the lower layers of the skin. The procedure is aimed at increasing the flow of blood to the skin and boosting the production of collagen.
3. Crystal Microdermabrasion:
This procedure uses a handpiece that spritz very minute crystals on the skin to remove the top layer and dead cells, which are also sucked in by the handpiece. The kind of crystals used in this treatment include sodium bicarbonate and aluminium oxide.
Best Alternatives To Microdermabrasion:
1. Do It Yourself Home Kits:
For those of you who prefer to do it yourself, there are microdermabrasion kits available online or OTC. These DIY kits may not give you results as good or as in-depth as the procedure done by a dermatologist.
The two kinds of kits in the DIY segment include a cream or a lotion that has an exfoliating chemical as part of its formulation. The chemicals used are sodium bicarbonate or aluminium oxide crystals, which are also used in the crystal microdermabrasion procedure.
The second option is a microdermabrasion handpiece identical to what a dermatologist would use. But, it is important to know the right technique to use these machines. That is because if done at home, you could go wrong with it and end up with scars or other skin conditions.
Dermabrasion  option is ideal for those who prefer results that last for a longer time and can spend the amount of time required to recuperate. It is also a surgical procedure that requires local or general anaesthesia. Its main advantage is its almost permanent results.
In dermabrasion, the surgeon will use a tool that rotates gently on the skin and removes blemishes, acne scars and dead cells. It works on deeper layers of the skin and not just the top layer like microdermabrasion. The procedure can take upto a few hours.
However, dermabrasion can cause bleeding or swelling and redness in the area that has been worked on. The skin may stay discoloured for anything from a few weeks to three months, unlike microdermabrasion that doesn’t need recovery time.
- Removal of acne scars
- Even and smooth skin tone
- Brighter complexion and younger looking skin
- No age spots
- Smoother skin texture
- Blemishes resulting from acne can be removed
- Effective for treating melasma 
- Can be used to improve absorption of anti-ageing or skin lightening products by enhancing penetration into the deeper layers of the skin
- Can help remove clogged pores, whiteheads and blackheads.
Side Effects Of Microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion may lead to side effects like redness, sunburnt skin, swollen skin, bruises or marks, heightened sensitivity to the sun and at times, even a sensation like a sting or a burn. This may happen some days after the procedure.
According to a report , statistics show that microdermabrasion treatments are not as popular as they used to be. Microdermabrasion has also been known to have adverse reactions, when the procedure has failed to produce results and instead, caused skin damage.
Microdermabrasion as a procedure has also had cases where the treatment has gone wrong due to various causes. Since the device uses crystals to exfoliate and vacuum the dead skin cells at the same time, sometimes the vacuum can remove more than the dead cells.
A 36-year-old woman ended up with lesions and scratch marks after a microdermabrasion treatment. The procedure stripped away more than the top layer of her skin and the peel applied after caused the stinging sensation to get worse.
A 65-year-old woman with very thin and sun damaged skin had broken capillaries at the end of the microdermabrasion procedure. When the vacuum was applied after crystal exfoliation, it pulled the blood vessels on the surface, leading to burst capillaries!
How To Care For Your Skin After A Microdermabrasion Treatment?
- Keeping your skin clean and hydrated is very important after a microdermabrasion treatment.
- Immediately after the treatment, gently dab your skin with a soft wet cloth. Then dab your skin with a moisturising toner to erase any remnants of dead skin.
- To prevent dryness and peeling of the skin, use a rich, hydrating moisturiser every day for at least a week.
- It is imperative to stay indoors for a minimum of eight days, as your skin could get damaged due to the UV rays of the sun and result in hyperpigmentation.
- After a week of staying out of the sun, whether you are indoors or stepping out, apply a sunscreen with a high SPF. Do this even if there is minimal sunlight and rainy weather as your skin gets sensitive to the sun after microdermabrasion.
- Hydrate yourself from within by drinking a lot of water throughout the day. Eat fruits and vegetables that are high in water content such as cucumbers and watermelons.
- Do not touch the skin of your face; if it itches or forms bumps, do not scratch or pluck on the area.
- Avoid the use of products that have strong and harsh chemicals as ingredients, like exfoliating scrubs and tanning solutions.
- Do not wax the skin of your face, use hair removal creams or any other procedure to remove facial hair for a minimum of two weeks after a microdermabrasion procedure.
- If you feel pain in any part of your face, or the redness doesn’t subside, it could be that your skin is infected and needs to be checked by a dermatologist.
Chemical Peel Versus Microdermabrasion
Depending on the problem you want to resolve -- acne scars, wrinkles, dull skin or age spots and crow’s feet -- you can consider alternative options to microdermabrasion. These also address your concerns regarding efficacy and budgets; recovery time and side effects.
An effective option to treat scars or other skin blemishes is a chemical peel . It is non-invasive and a chemical is used to treat the skin and remove freckles, age spots, acne scars and marks.
- A chemical peel treatment is done in three stages and the dermatologist will guide you as to which is best for your skin based on the outcome you seek.
- A chemical peel, like microdermabrasion, also requires repeated sessions, to see results.
- A light chemical peel will need to be done once a month and the procedure takes about 10-15 minutes.
- A medium chemical peel shows better results. It can be done once every six months or maybe even once a year. In this treatment, the skin takes at least six weeks to look normal.
- A deep chemical peel requires local anaesthesia and painkillers after the treatment. The redness in the skin and other side effects can take upto three months to subside.
- The results of a deep chemical peel can last for upto a decade, which makes it a viable choice for the long term, when compared to the light and medium chemical peels.
Micro-Needling Versus Microdermabrasion
Micro-needling  stimulates the skin to regenerate itself and produce more collagen. The device has rows of very small needles that create holes in the epidermis, prompting the lower layers of the skin to produce elastin and collagen in order to heal the micro punctures.
Micro-needling is also referred to as collagen therapy or percutaneous collagen production. It is effective in the treatment of scars due to burns, trauma, hypertrophy, stretch marks, melasma, androgenetic alopecia, wrinkles, crow’s feet and fine lines .
It is not recommended for those with rosacea , vitiligo , blood clotting disorders and who are undergoing chemotherapy. Microneedling is otherwise safe for all skin types. However, it is best to consult your dermatologist for the right procedure for your skin.
How Long Do The Effects Of Microdermabrasion Last?
Your skin takes a month to regenerate itself with dead cells being replaced with new ones. Microdermabrasion treatments will have to be repeated every two or four weeks for sustained results.
The effects of microdermabrasion are temporary and you will need at least 6-12 sessions to see substantial improvement.
Who Should Avoid Microdermabrasion Treatment?
- Microdermabrasion cannot be done to reduce the appearance of severe acne. It is not effective for dermatitis , eczema  or rosacea.
- If you are prone to cold sores, or if you have sensitive skin that can bruise easily, it is recommended that you avoid microdermabrasion. Those with diabetes are also advised to refrain from going in for a microdermabrasion treatment.
- If you havebeen taking medication for treating acne such as isotretinoin, as recently as six months before wanting a microdermabrasion treatment, it is advised you wait for some time as you could be more at a risk of side effects like scarring.
For anyone else who wants to go in for a microdermabrasion treatment, you need to ask your skin care specialist about the following:
1. The results you can expect based on the problem you are trying to have corrected.
2. The post session care, risk elements and side effects that could occur.
3. The number of sessions needed and the costs involved.
4. You can also ask the dermatologist to show you pictures of past clients with a before and after treatment picture to see the results; or, speak with one of their past clients to know what it entails.
Microdermabrasion is a procedure that you can have done professionally or in a not-so-effective way at home too. But you need to consult your dermatologist to check if you are eligible for it. You need to know what it entails and how it works before you take a decision. As it has had a history of failures and side effects, tread with caution.
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