Decisions, Decisions. Is Microdermabrasion in the Cards for You?

What is microdermabrasion? What can it do for your skin? And if you can do it yourself in the privacy of your own home, why should you bother seeing a facial plastic surgeon or dermatologist for the treatment?

Microdermabrasion is a facial rejuvenation procedure that involves spraying tiny crystals across your face to remove the top layer of your skin — including dead skin cells. Treatment takes about 30 minutes and is virtually painless. (It may cause a little discomfort around the delicate area under the eyes.) A series of treatments are often needed to see any meaningful results, and maintenance microdermabrasion is often recommended every one to three months. At $200 per treatment (on average), this can add up. DIY microdermabrasion devices tend to cost upwards of $150.

Is Microdermabrasion Right for Your Skin?

Courtesy of AAFPRS

Microdermabrasion leaves your skin looking smooth, clean and bright, especially if you have:

  • Mild acne
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Large pores
  • Light scarring
  • Age spots
  • Uneven skin texture or tone
  • Tiny cysts

That said, microdermabrasion may do more harm than good if you have:

  • Keloid or raised,red scars
  • A history of recent herpes outbreaks
  • Active acne

DIY versus In-Office Microdermabrasion

From late-night infomercials to Sky Mall catalogs, DIY microdermabrasion kits — some of which are hawked by celebs and reality TV stars — are widely available. Even Pinterest has a whole board devoted to these at-home tools and their skin-refreshing benefits.

Some DIY products are power devices, whereas others are microdermabrasion disks or pads that can be bought at the drug stare. While DIY microdermabrasion kits or products may be great for some, others may do better with a more aggressive skin care treatment or regimen. Only a dermatologist, licensed aesthetician or facial plastic surgeon can correctly match the right treatment with your skin type and needs.

Still, microdermabrasion is relatively safe whether done at home or in the office. Side effects may include mild redness that lasts a few hours. Potential risks such as hyperpigmentation, pinpoint, round spots that are the result of bleeding under the skin, and infection (if the machines are not sterile) may be magnified if you do it yourself and don't take the necessary precautions. The overall result may also be better if the procedure is done by an expert with advanced equipment.

Another advantage of seeing a doctor for your microdermabrasion treatment is that he or she can tell you what you can and can't do before and after your treatment to make sure that you get the best possible results. This may include diligent use of sunscreens and steering clear of hard exfoliating scrubs. If you go the DIY route, read and follow the instructions carefully.

Our advice? Try the less pricey pads and check in with your skin doctor before investing in an at-home machine.

  • Halaas 58x57

    Yael Halaas, MD, FACS

    60 E. 56th Street
    3rd Floor
    New York, NY 10022
    (332) 239-6439

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    Mune Gowda, MD

    3270 West Big Beaver
    Suite 415
    Troy, MI 48084

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    Sean Maguire, MD

    Physician's Center for Beauty
    24 Chenoweth Lane
    Louisville, KY 40207
    (866) 774-9105