Microdermabrasion treatments are designed to rejuvenate skin through exfoliation. Unlike dermabrasion which removes the epidermis and even portions of the underlying dermis, microdermabrasion focuses on the surface of the skin. The very outermost layer of the epidermis is called the stratum corneum. This tissue is made up of dead skin cells. These serve an important purpose in protecting the skin from day to day. However, the stratum corneum is also where many of the visible signs of aging tend to accumulate. When this layer is removed through microdermabrasion, dull texture, age spots, and fine lines may be minimized. The treatment doesn’t go as deep as laser therapy or many chemical peels. So, the degree of improvement is usually modest.
In Office Treatment
The traditional in-office microdermabrasion treatment uses powdered aluminum oxide crystals to buff away dead skin cells. The size of the crystals determines the depth of abrasion achieved. The powder is sprayed against the facial skin through the tip of a hand held wand. Once the desired level of abrasion is achieved, the powder and dead skin cells are vacuumed off the skin using the same wand device. The whole process takes about 20-30 minutes. Some discomfort is normal during the treatment of sensitive areas on the face. However, there should be no pain if the procedure is done correctly. There may be some redness and irritation after treatment. Patients who have particularly sensitive skin or who are experiencing an active acne breakout may not be ideal candidates for this skin resurfacing therapy.
Materials such as baking soda or salt may be used in lieu of aluminum oxide crystals depending on the specific skin problems being addressed. Some dermatologists use a powder-free device with a diamond tip to perform microdermabrasion. This is a new type of machine. Not all physicians agree on whether it is an improvement over older methods or just another equally effective option.
At Home Microdermabrasion Treatments
There are many exfoliating products advertised as microdermabrasion kits for home use. They don’t perform as effectively as professional grade equipment. Multiple treatment sessions are required to achieve noticeable results. With home-use devices, the crystals are mixed into a cream base. Then, this cream is applied to the skin either by hand or using a sponge applicator. Fancier kits have the sponge attached to a motorized device that rubs the cream into the skin for deeper exfoliation. Using the microdermabrasion gel too often, rubbing too hard, or using it on sensitive skin can cause irritation.