Dermabrasion is a procedure in which the skin is frozen and then a specialized instrument is used to “sand” the skin. This abrasive or planing action improves skin contour as a new layer of skin replaces the treated skin. The new skin generally has a smoother appearance.

When Is Dermabrasion Used?

When dermabrasion was first developed, it was used predominantly to improve acne scars, pox marks and scars resulting from accidents or disease. Today, it is used to treat other skin conditions, such as tattoo scars, age (liver) spots, wrinkles and skin lesions. Dermabrasion is not effective in treating congenital skin defects, most moles or pigmented birthmarks, or scars due to burns.

What Happens Prior To the Dermabrasion Procedure?

During the consultation, the doctor describes the type of anesthesia to be used, the procedure and what results might realistically be expected. The doctor also explains the possible risks and complications that may occur. Photographs are taken before and after surgery to help evaluate the amount of improvement. Preoperative and postoperative instructions are given to the patient at this time.

How Does Dermabrasion Work?

Dermabrasion can be performed in the clinic. Medication to relax the patient may be given prior to the procedure. The affected area is thoroughly cleansed with an antiseptic cleansing agent and then your doctor will apply a special spray is applied that freezes the skin. A high-speed rotary instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush is used to remove the outer layers of the skin and improve any irregularities in the skin surface.

What Happens After Dermabrasion?

After the procedure, your skin will feel as though it has been severely “brush-burned” for a few days. Your doctor can prescribe or recommend medications to help reduce any discomfort you may have, such as an over-the-counter pain reliever. Healing usually occurs within seven to ten days. The newly formed skin, which is pink at first, gradually develops a normal color. In most cases, the pinkness largely fades by six to eight weeks.

Makeup can be used as a cover-up as soon as the skin is healed. Generally, most people can resume their normal activities in seven to 14 days after dermabrasion. Patients are instructed to avoid unnecessary direct and indirect sunlight for three to six months after the procedure, and to use sunscreen on a regular basis when outdoors.