Dermabrasion- Dermatology, Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery

Derm stands for skin, and abrasion means the removal of something by scraping or due to wear. So, the literal definition of "dermabrasion" is "scraping off the skin."

A dermatologist or plastic surgeon will "sand" the skin during dermabrasion, also known as surgical skin planing. This abrasive or planing action removes the top layers of skin to reveal the smooth new skin underneath, improving skin contour.

It was primarily used to treat acne scars, chicken pox marks, and scars from accidents or diseases when the procedure was initially invented in the early 1950s. Today, dermabrasion is used to treat certain skin diseases, severe UV damage, deep facial wrinkles, and pigmentation issues.

Who Can Benefit From Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion can help many skin conditions, though not all. For example, if you have a fair complexion, you can get good results through dermabrasion. However, scarring and discoloration are more likely to occur on darker skin tones.

The procedure can improve:

  • Age spots
  • Fine lines and crow's feet
  • Tattoos and pox marks
  • Melasma and other dark spots on the skin
  • Thick, red skin on the nose (rhinophyma)
  • Benign (noncancerous) growths on the skin
  • Scars left by accidents, surgeries, or acne
  • Pre-cancerous patches on the skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Wrinkles and sun damage

How To Prepare For Dermabrasion?

Your doctor will conduct a physical examination before beginning treatment, review your medical history, and discuss the risks and outcomes with you. Any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter remedies and dietary supplements, should be disclosed to your doctor. Your doctor may advise you to pause them if they are likely to increase the chances of bleeding or unfavorably darken your skin.

If you have used isotretinoin (Accutane) during the previous 12 months, please inform your doctor. Additionally, quitting smoking for a few weeks before and after treatment is something your doctor will advise. Smoking speeds up the skin's aging process, reduces blood flow to the area, and slows recovery time.

You should also expect advice from your doctor regarding sun exposure. Without adequate sun protection, skin darkening from excessive sun exposure can occur two months after dermabrasion. You will also be instructed to wear sunscreen every day after your skin has recovered and to avoid exposure to the sun while it is still healing.

Additionally, your physician might advise the usage of the following before dermabrasion:

  • Oral antibiotics: If you have acne, it is incredibly crucial to avoid bacterial infections.
  • Antiviral drugs: These should be taken both before and after dermabrasion to avoid viral infections.
  • Retinoid cream: This cream, which is made of vitamin A, aids in the healing process.

What To Expect?

Before the procedure, you will meet with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to go over your expectations and goals. During your consultation, the dermatologist or plastic surgeon will go over the surgery, the kind of anesthesia you need, and the expected outcomes. A successful outcome is one where your skin's condition has improved by 50%.

Your healthcare practitioner will cleanse your skin with an antibacterial and administer any or a combination of the following to make you comfortable throughout the dermabrasion procedure:

  • Gel for topical anesthesia
  • Numbing Spray
  • A shot of local anesthetic

Once the numbing drug has taken effect, your doctor will use high-speed rotary equipment with an abrasive wire brush or diamond wheel to scrape away the top layers of the skin to reveal the new layers beneath. Your healthcare professional will apply a wet dressing to your skin after the treatment to keep it covered while it heals.

You must prepare yourself for how you will look as your skin heals. Without the proper post-procedure care, a scab-like crust could form on your skin, which could delay healing and worsen the situation. In addition, your skin will be extremely pink and raw.

The day after surgery, your skin may ooze and be covered in a moist dressing before beginning wound care at home. For the new skin to heal uniformly and without discoloring, it is imperative to avoid sun exposure during the healing process.

You may also want to take at least two weeks off work for your skin to heal completely. However, the complete results might not become apparent for several months.

In most cases, dermabrasion is an outpatient procedure in your doctor's office after numbing your skin with a local anesthetic. However, you can opt for inpatient surgery under general anesthesia if an additional cosmetic procedure, such as a facelift, is involved.

Along with taking pictures before and after the treatment to assess your findings, your healthcare practitioner will also go over the risks and potential difficulties that could arise.

What Are The Side Effects Of Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is not for everyone, as it may cause the following side effects in some individuals:

Swelling and redness: The treated skin will be puffy and red after dermabrasion. Within a few days to a week, swelling will start to go down, although it may continue for weeks or even months.

Skin sensitivity: For several weeks, your new skin will be sensitive and blotchy. Your skin tone may not return to normal for roughly three months.

Acne and milia: Pimples and little white bumps may appear on the treated area of the skin. Usually, these go away on their own or after using soap or an abrasive pad.

Enlarged pore size: Your pores may enlarge as a result of dermabrasion.

Alterations in skin tone: Skin that has undergone frequent dermabrasion has temporary hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, or blotchiness. People with brown or black skin experience are more prone to these issues, sometimes resulting in permanent problems.

Scarring: An excessive amount of dermabrasion might leave scars. These scars can be treated with steroid medications.

Infection: Rarely, dermabrasion can result in a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection, such as a cold sore outbreak from the herpes virus.

Additional skin reactions: Dermabrasion may exacerbate allergic skin rashes or other skin reactions if you are prone to them.

To read about Dermabrasion as one of the treatment options for hyperpigmentation, please click here.


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