History of Dermabrasion
Since the Egyptians, abrasive stones and materials have been used to treat and improve the look of scars on the skin’s surface.
In early 20th century metal tools where used for the same purpose, sometimes powered by electric motors.
In 1953 Dr. Abner Kurtin, a New York dermatologist which is considered the father of dermabrasion, published a paper titled “Corrective surgical planning of skin” describing the use of a wire brush connected to a motor-driven rotary dental device, using numbing cold spray as anesthetic, to remove the epidermis and upper dermis layers.
How dermabrasion works
In modern days a wire brush or a diamond fraise, rotating at speeds between 15’000rpm and 30’000rpm, are used for this procedure. Local anesthetics or topical spray refrigerants and/or a sedative might be used for pain and anxiety control. A cycle of antiviral and/or antibiotic medications might be prescribed to be taken around the time of the procedure. The area selected for treatment will be cleaned and marked.
The upper layers of the skin up to the dermis are scraped away by the instrument. This way, the damaged cells and degenerative proteins (collagen, elastin, ..) are replaced by new healthy ones.
The skin is protected with a dressing or ointment depending on the extent of the procedure.
The new layers of the skin will grow back with a much smoother and younger look.
The whole procedure can take anything between a couple of minutes to one hour, depending on how large the treated area is; it can be performed all at once or in different stages too.
A follow-up appointment will be scheduled soon after treatment for the doctor to check the healing process and change the dressing if previously applied.
Indications of Dermabrasion
- Scars due to acne, chicken pox, surgeries or traumas
- Skin rejuvenation
- Planing of moderate to deep wrinkles caused by photodamage
- Fine lines on the face
- Tattoo removal
- Dyschromias, like hyperpigmentation
Dermabrasion is indicated for white skin types. Sometimes and with the use of some additional measures such as a bleaching cream before and after the procedure, moderate brown skin types can achieve good results too, without side effects.
Patients who underwent previous medical/surgical treatments, who have active infections or use certain medications, could not be good candidates for this procedure. The pretreatment consultation with your physician will make sure to cover all of these.
After the dermabrasion procedure
Avoid alcohol and don’t smoke. Some medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen are not to be taken for 1 week after the procedure. Other pain medications will be prescribed by the surgeon to control the initial discomfort.
After dermabrasion, the skin will feel like burned for a few days with redness and swelling that should subside within a week.
Re-epithelialization usually occurs within 7-10 days. The new skin cells are initially pink, but will gradually develop a normal color usually within 6-8 weeks. New skin is also more sensitive usually for up to a month.
Moisturizers are recommended to keep the new skin hydrated and the use of sunscreen is mandatory to reduce the chances of hyperpigmentation.
Possible Complications of dermabrasion
- Hypo/Hyper – Pigmentation
- Hypertrophic scarring
- Microdermabrasion is an alternative treatment for milder corrections of the skin’s surface. Only the outermost layers of the epidermis are removed and healing takes place in 24-48 hours.
- Resurfacing lasers are another possible alternative treatment. Several different laser types are available and will be discussed thoroughly on our blog.
- Chemical peels
All of these treatments work by exfoliating the outer layers of the skin. Sometimes they are used in combination to achieve better results. Leave the treatment choice to your doctor: he is the one with direct experience and knowledge and will advise you on the best modality to achieve your desired results.
Tips & Tricks
- Usually patients are comfortable going out in public and social setting after the first week. If the redness persists for a longer period, a green make up base can be applied to the red skin to neutralize the color;
- Apply the sunscreen each morning before make up is applied or before leaving the house.
- Careful on exposing the skin to the sun, especially when driving the car (the glass does not shield from UV rays!)
- Don’t smoke or drink for at least 1 week
- Take the antibiotic and/or antiviral therapy until the recommended course has been completed. Do not skip doses!