Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing technique that uses a rotating instrument to remove the outer layers of the skin and is usually performed on the face. A new layer of skin grows and replaces the treated skin, resulting in a smoother and younger appearance.
Dermabrasion is used to treat the damaged and defective outer layers of the skin that include:
- Scars on the face caused by acne
- Scars from surgery or injury
- Age spots
- Fine wrinkles around the mouth
- Precancerous skin patches
- Rhinophyma (redness of the nose)
- Sun damage
- Uneven skin tone
Your surgeon begins dermabrasion by thoroughly cleaning the area to be treated with an antiseptic cleansing agent. The outpatient procedure is performed under local anaesthesia and a freezing spray is applied to freeze and firm the area of the skin that is being treated. Your surgeon will then carefully move the dermabrader across your skin. The dermabrader is a small motorized dermabrasion tool with an abrasive surface such as a wheel or a brush. By moving the dermabrader, the outer layers of the skin are removed to the desired level so as to make the scar or wrinkles less visible. After the procedure is completed, your surgeon will cover the treated area with a dressing or an ointment.
The time taken to perform dermabrasion depends on the amount of skin that is being treated. For smaller sections, it takes around 30-60minutes, while large sections of skin may require treatment in multiple sessions.
Some risks are the same as those associated with other surgical procedures while a few are specific to dermabrasion. Risks associated with this technique include:
- Redness – the newly grown skin usually appears pink and might take about three months to fade
- Acne, which normally disappears over time; soaps or abrasive pads may also be used if required
- Changes in skin colour, usually seen in people with darker skin
- Enlarged pores, which shrink to normal size with the decrease in swelling
- Scarring, occurs rarely, is treated with steroids
- Infections (occur rarely)
- Dermabrasion may also result in the loss of freckles (small brownish spots)
Limitations to performing dermabrasion
Dermabrasion is not recommended for skin conditions such as acne or pyoderma (bacterial infection of the skin), recurrent herpes infections, radiation burns, burn scars, family history of keloids (characterized by overgrowth of fibrous scar tissue) or if you have taken certain medications for acne.
Post procedure care
Following dermabrasion, your skin heals within 7-10 days and you can return to normal activities in about two weeks. Your surgeon will give you home care instructions that must be followed. Pain medications may be prescribed to help control any pain and discomfort. Antiviral medications may also be prescribed to prevent herpes simplex virus infection that causes severe cold sores.
- You must clean the treated area several times a day to avoid infections
- You must change the dressing or ointment regularly to keep the wound area moist in order to promote healing
- You must avoid exposure to sunlight for about 3-6 months post procedure and use sunscreen regularly to protect the newly grown skin from sun damage.