Microdermabrasion: How it Works

Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that resurfaces the skin, using a high pressure blast of crystals to remove the top layer of skin cells. A quick and non-invasive procedure, it is usually performed in spas, medi-centers, and dermatology offices by trained professionals. Microdermabrasion is alleged to correct acne, clogged pores, acne scarring, pigmentation, age spots, fine lines, and to help increase the growth of newer, younger skin cells. Here’s some information about one of the most popular cosmetic procedures, and what it can do for your skin.

How Does It Work?
The most popular form of microdermabrasion involves a wand that uses air pressure to blast particles (usually aluminum crystals, zinc, or natural salt) against the skin cells. An adjacent vacuum contained in the wand simultaneously sucks up the used crystals and microscopic pieces of skin that the crystals have knocked loose. The top layer of the skin, often called the horny layer, is comprised of dead skin cells; by removing the layer with microdermabrasion, the fresh, glowy skin underneath is revealed. Microdermabrasion also further renews the skin by stimulating the deepest layer of the dermis, and encouraging new basal skin cells to be produced.

What’s It Like?
The procedure itself can last anywhere between ten and thirty minutes, depending on whether just a small area or the entire face is being treated. A single microdermabrasion treatment can cost anywhere between $65 and $300 dollars, although most professionals agree that the remedy is most effective when performed repeatedly, in a series of about six.

Although microdermabrasion does not hurt, you may feel a mildly uncomfortable stinging or rubbing sensation. The treated skin will be slightly reddened directly following the procedure, and may feel hot- almost as if you have a sunburn. For a few days afterward, the treated skin may feel very dry and slightly sensitive. You may begin to peel, but it is important not to interfere with this natural process by picking or rubbing. You can speed up the recovery process by applying a hydrating moisturizer regularly, and avoiding sun exposure until your skin is fully healed.

What Are The Risks?
Because microdermabrasion is such a non invasive procedure, there are generally no major risks. However, there can be a risk of hyper pigmentation (dark spots or patches of color on the skin) if a professional machine is used improperly. There can also be a risk of infection if the machine parts (mainly the wand) are not sterile or the crystals have been used previously on another patient. It is best to have this procedure in a spa or medical office you trust. Tell your esthetician or doctor if you have recently had a chemical peel or if you are using Retinol medications like Retin-A. These two treatments can affect the thinness of the skin, and may require modification of the microdermabrasion procedure by whoever is administering it.

Can I Duplicate This Procedure At Home?
Today, you may see many products being marketed by skincare companies as “at-home microdermabrasion”. These products work as exfoliants, and remove dead skin cells when granules are rubbed against the surface of the skin. Unfortunately, this action is merely superficial; while these products can offer a slight improvement in skin tone and texture, they are not powerful enough to provide noticeable improvement of conditions such as fine lines, pigmentation, and scarring. If used consistently, you will see results similar to that of a daily scrub treatment, and may observe less clogging of the pores, as well as an overall glow. However, you can not expect to see results comparable to an actual microdermabrasion treatment, no matter how long you continue to use the product regimen.

What Can I Expect?
Once the redness subsides after your first microdermabrasion treatment, the first thing you will notice is a fresh, dewy glow, accompanied by a newly softened skin texture. Scars, pigmentation, and fine lines may appear to be slightly less prominent. As you progress through your series, these imperfections will continue to fade, and may even disappear completely. As an added bonus, microdermabrasion treatments increase the ability of your skincare products to penetrate the outer layers of the skin, increasing their efficiency. If you want to increase the results of your microdermabrasion treatments, try coupling them with the regular use of an active skincare product designed to treat your skincare concerns. The active ingredients will work better on your freshly abraded skin, and will augment the results of your microdermabrasion treatment.

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