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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a Dermabrasion?
A Dermabrasion is a surgical technique where the top layers of skin are removed to create a smoother surface much like sandpaper is used on a rough board. It is performed with a diamond imbedded burr which is rotating rapidly from a hand piece. The procedure is performed until the skin is raw and bleeding much like a severe scrape. The idea is to treat deep enough to create as smooth a surface as possible but not go so deep as to create scars. Gradually, over the next five to seven days, the skin cells that exist in the sweat glands and hair follicles grow out to repopulate and resurface the skin. Return to the Top
2. Is a Dermabrasion the same thing as a microDermabrasion?
MicroDermabrasion is an office procedure used for exfoliation to remove the outer layer of dead skin cells which requires essentially no recovery. It does not remove lines, wrinkles, scars or skin lesions. A Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure that treats into the lower levels of the skin and requires at least a week for recovery. Return to the Top
3. What conditions are improved with a Dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion is most commonly used for improving acne scars on the cheeks and fine lines around the mouth. Other conditions that can be improved with Dermabrasion include precancerous lesions, keratoses and irregularities of the tone and texture of the skin. Although some physicians use Dermabrasion for tattoo removal, laser tattoo removal is much more effective. Return to the Top
4. Can you get scars from a Dermabrasion?
Almost every type of skin treatment can result in scarring and Dermabrasion is no different. The deeper you treat, the greater the potential benefit of the treatment but also, the greater the risk of scars. The more superficial you treat, the lower the risk of scars but the less the potential benefit. The goal is to treat deep enough to obtain a significant benefit but avoid any permanent scarring. Return to the Top
5. What type of anesthesia is used for Dermabrasion?
Smaller areas such as around the mouth can be done under local anesthesia where as large areas such as the entire face usually requires general anesthesia. Return to the Top
6. What areas can be treated with Dermabrasion?
Any area above the neck, with exception of the eyelids can effectively be treated with Dermabrasion. Any area below the jaw line has a much higher risk of scarring. Return to the Top
7. Is there much risk of infection with a Dermabrasion?
Two types of infection are possible with skin resurfacing treatments such as Dermabrasion, chemical peel and laser surgery: bacterial and viral. Those who have had a history of cold sores should be treated with an antiviral medication starting before surgery and for several days after surgery to reduce the risk of a break out during the healing period. All patients should take antibiotics for the same time period. Fortunately, infection is relatively rare with skin resurfacing procedures. Return to the Top
8. Will my skin look the same after a Dermabrasion?
After surgery, your skin should be smoother with a more even tone and texture. The areas treated may be slightly lighter or darker in color than surrounding areas that were not treated. That is why areas are treated in aesthetic subunits that have natural start and stop lines; areas are treated into the hair lines and onto the pink portion of the lips to prevent lines of demarcation between the areas that were treated and those that were not treated. Return to the Top
9. How long is the recovery from a Dermabrasion?
Immediately after surgery, the area treated is covered with an antibiotic impregnated gauze and an antibiotic ointment. Over the next five to seven days, as the skin gradually grows back under the dressing, the gauze lifts off of the skin and may be trimmed away. It typically takes about one week for most of the scabs and gauze to come off. At that time, the skin is slightly swollen and pink; it can be covered with make-up if necessary. It generally takes several weeks for the pink discoloration to resolve. Return to the Top
10. Is it possible to have more than one Dermabrasion?
Generally, the greatest change is seen after the first Dermabrasion; however, incremental changes can be seen with additional procedures. Return to the Top
11. What is the difference between a chemical peel and a Dermabrasion?
Both procedures remove the outer layers of skin and allow it to heal in a smoother fashion. While a chemical peel uses an acid to remove the skin, a Dermabrasion removes the skin mechanically. There is typically more oozing and scabbing with a Dermabrasion which tends to be more effective with lines around the mouth than a chemical peel. A chemical peel is used more for sum damaged skin and is not very effective for treating acne scars. Return to the Top
12. Is there much pain after a Dermabrasion?
Surprisingly there is generally very little pain with a Dermabrasion; most patients take very little pain medication, if any. Return to the Top
13. I've heard that there can be a lot of itching after a Dermabrasion, what can be done to make it better?
There can be a lot of itching with any type of facial skin resurfacing as the skin cells are growing back. Most physicians recommend the use of 0.5% hydrocortisone cream rubbed into the skin twice a day to control itching. This can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Oral medications such as Benedryl' can also help with itching however this may also cause drowsiness. Return to the Top
14. I've had a Dermabrasion and I developed a lot of tine white bumps. What are they and how can I get rid of them?
These are called milia and they are small plugs of skin cells trapped in the pores. They can be removed with vigorous scrubbing, picked out with a small needle, or be allowed to resolve on their own. In some patients, the use of Retin A' can be helpful in eliminated milia. Return to the Top