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Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion: how are they different?

20th March 2013

Micro means small, derm is skin (think dermis), and abrasion is scraping (like sand paper is abrasive).

Dermabrasion, which is recommended for fair skin and not dark skin, was developed to improve acne scars, pox marks, and scars from accidents or disease. It has to be done in the doctor’s office, and you need painkillers and maybe some Xanex or something to help you relax. Then the doctor takes a high speed wheel or brush (this is the abrasive part) and uses it to remove layers of skin. This is a fairly aggressive procedure: possible side effects include uneven changes in skin color, formation of a scar, infection, tempoary (rarely permanent) darkening of the skin caused by sun exposure following the procedure.

Microdermabrasion, which works on all skin types and colors, is more subtle. It doesn’t work on deeper problems such as scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, or deep acne scars. Rather, it’s an exfoliation and skin rejuvenation technique designed to help you achieve softer and brighter skin. You’ll use a microdermabrasion machine to spray tiny crystals onto the skin to gently remove the outer layer of your skin. Because it’s much less aggressive than dermabrasion, you don’t need numbing medicine.

With microdermabrasion, you can even do some maintenance work on your own – between professional treatments that is, with microdermabrasion kits . Here, the patient uses a micro-needle roller (sounds like it hurts but it really does not) to penetrate the epidermis in order to stimulate collagen and elastin growth. You can get better skin tone, clarity and texture with this at home technique.

It’s even possible to leave the crystals out of the crystal microdermabrasion. Crystal free machine tips are disposable — doctors do not need to scrub, soak and sterilize so they get to the next patient that much faster. No need to dispose of crystals or worry about bacteria. It’s not only for doctors, though. Less dead tissue in the air is good news for everyone involved. And specifically for patients, the main side effect would be crystals in your eyes. Easy enough to wear eye protection but even better if there are no crystals to worry about.

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