Dermabrasion

If You’re Considering a Skin-Refinishing Treatment…

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to refinish the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.

Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles, such as those around the mouth. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is commonly used to treat deep acne scars.

Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.

If you’re considering surgery to refinish the skin, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask your doctor about anything you don’t understand.

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Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can smooth scars left by acne, accidents, or previous surgery, as well as fine facial wrinkles, especially those around the mouth.

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In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the top layers of skin using an electrically operated instrument with a rough wire brush or diamond-impregnated burr.

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This cross section shows how dermabrasion smooths irregularities in the outermost layer of skin.
 

 

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Dermaplaning uses a dermatone to skim off surface layers of skin that surround facial defects.

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Several months after your procedure, pigmentation returns and the skin is much smoother than before.

 

Considering Alternative Procedures

If you’re planning surface repairs on your face, you may also be considering chemical peel, an alternative method of surgically removing the top layer of skin. However, dermabrasion and dermaplaning use surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses a caustic solution.

Many plastic surgeons perform all three procedures, selecting one or a combination of procedures to suit the individual patient and the problem. Others prefer one technique for all surface repairs. In general, chemical peel is used more often to treat fine wrinkles, and dermabrasion and dermaplaning for deeper imperfections such as acne scars. A non-chemical approach may also be preferred for individuals with slightly darker skin, especially when treating limited areas of the face, since dermabrasion and dermaplaning are less likely to produce extreme changes and contrasts in skin color.

 

The Best Candidates for Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-refinishing treatment, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

Men and women of all ages, from young people to older adults, can benefit from dermabrasion and dermaplaning. Although older people heal more slowly, more important factors are your skin type, coloring, and medical history. For example, black skin, Asian skin, and other dark complexions may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin-refinishing treatment. People who develop allergic rashes or other skin reactions, or who get frequent fever blisters or cold sores, may experience a flare-up. If you have freckles, they may disappear in the treated area.

In addition, most surgeons won’t perform treatment during the active stages of acne because of a greater risk of infection. The same may be true if you’ve had radiation treatments, a bad skin burn, or a previous chemical peel.

 

The Surgery

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed fairly quickly.  The procedures usually take from a few minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how large an area of skin is involved.  It’s not uncommon for the procedure to be performed more than once, or in stages, especially when scarring is deep or a large area of skin is involved.

In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the outermost layer of skin with a rough wire brush, or a burr containing diamond particles, attached to a motorized handle.  The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible.

In dermaplaning, the surgeon uses a hand-held instrument called a dermatome.  Resembling an electric razor, the dermatome has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly skim off the surface layers of skin that surround the craters or other facial defects.  This skimming continues until the lowest point of the acne scar becomes more even with the surrounding skin.

The surgeon may then treat the skin in a number of ways, including ointment, a wet or waxy dressing, dry treatment, or some combination of these. 

 

After Your Surgery

Right after the procedure, your skin will be quite red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult. You’ll probably feel some tingling, burning, or aching; any pain you feel can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon.  The swelling will begin to subside in a few days to a week.

If you remember the scrapes you got when you fell down as a child, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from this type of surgery. A scab or crust will form over the treated area as it begins to heal. This will fall off as a new layer of tight, pink skin forms underneath. Your face may itch as new skin starts to grow, and your surgeon may recommend an ointment to make you more comfortable. If ointment is applied immediately after surgery, little or no scab will form.

In any case, you surgeon will give you detailed instructions to care for your skin after surgery. For men, this will include delaying shaving for a while, then using an electric razor at first. It’s very important that you understand your doctor’s instructions and follow them exactly, to ensure the best possible healing.

 

Getting Back To Normal

Your new skin will be a bit swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks. During this time, you can begin gradually resuming your normal activities.

You can expect to be back at work in about two weeks. Your surgeon will probably advise your to avoid any activity that could cause a bump to your face for at least two weeks. More active sports-especially ball sports-should be avoided for four to six weeks. If you swim, stick to indoor pools to avoid sun and wind, and keep your face out of chlorinated water for at least four weeks. It will be at least three to four weeks before you can drink alcohol without experiencing a flush of redness.

Above all, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun until the pigment has completely returned to your skin- as long as six to twelve months.

 

Your New Look

Refinishing treatments can offer dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results.

The pinkness of your skin will take about three months to fade. In the meantime, you’ll probably want to wear non-allergenic makeup when you go out. When your new skin is fully repigmented, the color should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.