September 09, 2020

Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are two of the most effective methods of getting rid of scars. They are surgical procedures carried out by a skincare therapist or aesthetician. 

Dermabrasion was developed in the early 1900s to rejuvenate the skin, but in the 1950s, it was modified to a modern and improved form. 

Microdermabrasion, on the other hand, is a more recent invention. The first microdermabrasion machine was invented in 1985 by two Italian doctors, namely, Mattioli and Brutto.


Dermabrasion vs. Microdermabrasion

What is the Difference between Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion? Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion have many differences. 

This article will help you understand the differences between dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, how they work, risks, and aftercare post-procedure. 


What is dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a cosmetic exfoliating procedure that uses a robust, abrasive device such as a diamond wheel, wire brush, salt crystals, sterilized sandpaper, or other mechanical means to scrape the outer layers of skin.

This is a treatment method commonly used by people who wish to improve the appearance of their skin. It removes the upper skin layer and exposes the fresh layer of skin beneath that appears smoother and younger, giving you a healthy glow


What is microdermabrasion treatment?

It is non-invasive or minimally invasive, unlike dermabrasion. There are two main types of microdermabrasion procedures. 

They include crystal microdermabrasion that involves using tiny exfoliating crystals that are usually sprayed on the scarred skin. The second one is the diamond microdermabrasion procedure, which consists of peeling and rubbing off dead skin cells with a diamond tip wand.


Types of Conditions Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion Treats

What is dermabrasion used for? Some of the conditions that dermabrasion can heal include:

  • Stretch marks
  • Fine wrinkles
  • Age spots
  • Sun damage
  • Precancerous skin patches
  • Injury or surgery scars 
  • Acne scars
  • Redness, rhinophyma, and thick skin on the nose
  • Tattoos
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Hyperpigmentation

A point to note is that some conditions on your skin could prevent the doctor from performing dermabrasion on your skin. For example, if you have inflammatory acne, radiation burns, recurrent herpes flare-ups, or burn scars, you cannot undergo it.

Dermabrasion is not effective in treating pigmented birthmarks, most moles, congenital skin defects, or burn scars. Advance in technology has led to the advent of laser therapy, which makes removing certain marks like tattoos much easier and quicker.

The treatment is also not recommended for people with dark skin tones, resulting in discoloration or scarring. The best treatment for people with darker skin tones is hydradermabrasion.

If you’ve taken certain medications with skin-thinning effects, dermabrasion may not be suitable for you. So, it’s vital to always talk to your dermatologist to understand all the different treatment options for specific conditions.

Unlike dermabrasion, Microdermabrasion can work on all skin colors and types and doesn’t cause skin discoloration or scarring. However, it’s also not effective on deeper wounds, extensive wrinkles, or severe scarring.

Microdermabrasion works best on issues like dull skin, age spots, and brown spots. People with skin infections like cold sores, skin healing problems history, or those taken isotretinoin in the last 6-12 months cannot undergo the microdermabrasion procedure.


At what age can the procedures be performed?

Anyone can undergo these procedures from mid-teens onwards. The only concern that you should have is your condition, the color, and the type of your skin. Consult with your doctor first before you go for this treatment to know if it’s safe for you.

What to do Before Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion Treatment

Book an appointment with your therapist. On the consultation visit, be ready to discuss all the details with your doctor. Let your doctor know your reasons for seeking the treatment and ask any questions you may have.

The doctor will be able to examine you physically, review your medical history, and determine if you are an ideal candidate for the procedure. He/she may ask about any medications that you are taking, including any nutritional supplements and over the counter medicines.

Tell your doctor if, in the past year, you’ve used isotretinoin (Accutane). Some medications could increase your risk of bleeding or even darken your skin. So, let your doctor know everything you’re using.

After understanding your medical history, the physician will explain the procedure, associated risks, and everything you can expect during and after the treatment and its total cost.

The doctor will let you know the type of anesthesia(in dermabrasion) used and the follow-up instructions that you should adhere to before and after the treatment. Sometimes, photos are taken before and after the procedure to see the results.

Sometimes, the doctor may recommend that you stop smoking a few weeks before and after the procedure. Smoking causes premature skin aging, slows the healing process, and decreases blood flow to the skin. Also, you may be required to minimize sun exposure a few weeks before and after treatment.

Doctors also recommend the use of:

  • Oral Antibiotic

Taking the oral antibiotic will prevent a bacterial infection, which is more common, especially if you’re treating acne.

  • Antiviral medication

These are used before and after the dermabrasion procedure to prevent viral infections

  • Retinoid Cream

This cream derived from vitamin A, helps promote healing.

Dermabrasion procedure hurts, and so you’ll want to arrange for a ride back home after the procedure. Also, the anesthesia after-effects may make it unsafe to drive.

When undergoing the microdermabrasion procedure, the consultation is similar. Only that, with microdermabrasion, the talk about anesthesia and risks is not there as this is a much simpler procedure.


Dermabrasion vs. Microdermabrasion: How the Treatment Works

Dermabrasion is a clinical procedure conducted at the doctor's office. Before the process starts, the doctor may give you medication to help you relax. Then, thoroughly clean the skin and numb the affected area or the whole body with anesthesia.

The procedure involves removing the outer skin layer with a high-speed brush or abrasive wheel to improve the skin surface and remove the irregularities.

After the procedure is complete, the physician will cover the area with a thin film of burnt cream or antibiotic ointment and possibly a synthetic sheeting layer to protect the tissue as they heal.

In the microdermabrasion procedure, the process involves spraying tiny crystals on the affected area to eliminate the outer skin layer gently. This procedure is not as aggressive as the dermabrasion one, and so anesthesia is not necessary. The process leaves the skin rejuvenated, brighter, and softer. 

Microdermabrasion is painless though some people get some bits of discomfort. The procedure leaves redness or pink streaks on the skin. Within a day or so, the lines disappear. 


What Happens After Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion?

After the dermabrasion procedure, the doctor will give you the aftercare instructions to follow while recuperating at home. This can include how to cover the treated area, change the dressing(if necessary), or which products to use. You will be okay in two weeks after treatment and can resume your daily duties.

Following the procedure, the skin will appear swollen and pinkish. You may feel some tingling or a burning sensation. A clear or yellow liquid may ooze from the skin, and the area may crust over while healing. To completely recover and the pinkiness to fade, it will take up to three months. You can wear makeup when the skin heals.

Avoid the sunlight for a few weeks after the pink color fade. Use a sunscreen with a broad spectrum of SPF of 30 and wear a brimmed hat when going outside.

After the microdermabrasion procedure, the skin will also appear pinkish but will feel a bit dry and tight (like windburn or sunburn). This will only last for about 24 hours. Also, use a moisturizer and a broad spectrum of sunscreen when getting exposed to the sun. Apply makeup 24 hours after the procedure.

Risks of dermabrasion vs. Microdermabrasion

Some of the main complications of dermabrasion include an allergic reaction to the anesthesia, swelling, scarring, infection, acne flare-ups, sun sensitivity, skin tone changes, redness, and enlarged pores (temporary), loss of freckles, and rashes. In microdermabrasion, you may get an irritation from crystals getting into the eyes if they are unprotected.

Some people develop keloids and other forms of excessive scarring though rare. In such a scenario, steroid medications are ideal for softening the scars.

To minimize the risks, follow your doctor’s advice, and go for all the recommended follow-up appointments. Remain gentle to your skin and avoid using harsh skincare products or cleansers. Also, avoid picking at or scrubbing your skin. Be sure to use moisturizers and sunscreen on sunny days when going outside.

With microdermabrasion, there is no risk of scarring. And, there is minimal risk of mild skin pigment changes that clears up within a month.


After Care After Dermabrasion vs.Microdermabrasion

After the dermabrasion procedure, doctors may recommend avoiding:

  • Smoking or drinking for some time, 
  • Aspirin, or other products that contain aspirin or ibuprofen for a week or so, 
  • Sun exposure for three to six weeks. If going outside, the use of moisturizers and a broad spectrum of sunscreen are vital.

The doctor will give instructions on properly cleaning your skin, changing the dressing, using vinegar soaks or cold packs, and more.

Go for the follow-up visits to help monitor your healing. Take your antiviral drugs (if needed) and antibiotic medications directed by your doctor to keep off infection.

Microdermabrasion clears up within a day, and so there is little aftercare follow-ups. But, there is a need to wear sunscreen when getting exposed to direct sunlight and using moisturizers.


Parting Shot

If you follow your doctor’s advice for before, during, and aftercare, the results of the dermabrasion & microdermabrasion procedures will be maximum and permanent. Be sure to get the procedure done in the right medical facility and by a licensed doctor.