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What is Microdermabrasion?

Look up the word ‘Microdermabrasion’ in a dictionary and you’ll get descriptions along the lines of…

‘A cosmetic procedure in which layers of facial skin are removed by the application of a fine abrasive spray’

So however the term is dressed up or disguised, microdermabrasion in a nutshell is a process of removing the top layer of your skin by means of blasting it off with a combination of a jet of (high pressure) air and an abrasive material. (Isn’t that called sandblasting?) The abrasive materials are generally in the form of crystals, and are typically made of very fine, medical grade aluminum oxide. Other inert crystals can be used, including magnesium oxide, sodium chloride (salt), and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

The air and abrasive material is vacuumed away instantly along with any skin cells that are removed in the process.

Take a pause for a moment and consider the basics of this treatment. Like plenty of competing topical anti-ageing treatments or procedures, microdermabrasion is essentially a process of exfoliation, or the removal of the top layer(s) of skin. (You can see why it has a more pleasing euphemistic name!)

Some treatments are more aggressive than others, but all of them are removing the top layer of dead skin to a greater or lesser degree.

Is Microdermabrasion Effective?

Microdermabrasion is very effective. Regardless of any intervention, your (healthy) skin will regenerate itself approximately every 30 days or so anyway, but unless you exfoliate regularly, your skin may well look tired, sallow and a little old before it’s time.

By regularly exfoliating, you are exposing newer and younger skin with the aim of looking younger overall.

Which body parts can I microdermabrade?

For the vast majority of people, the face is the most common area for microdermabrasion; however, all skin including neck, chest, back, and hands may be treated.

Is Microdermabrasion Popular?

Microdermabrasion is very popular and it’s becoming more so, because until relatively recently, it was a treatment that was performed by either a medical professional or a trained beautician. However, this treatment has become so popular and in such a short space of time, that there are now plenty of cost-effective options that can be carried out personally in the comfort of your own home. As yet, there are no age or gender restrictions, but this kind of skincare treatment really shouldn’t be required by anybody under the age of fifteen and it’s suitable for all skin types, even sensitive. (Anybody under that age requiring this procedure would only do so under the care of a medical professional).

Ok let’s cut to the chase, what are the benefits of microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion is effective for the following skin imperfections:

  • Softens fine lines and wrinkles
  • Smoothes unevenly textured skin
  • Reduces the appearance of acne and acne scars
  • Minimizes enlarged and open pores
  • Helps diminish age spots
  • Evens out uneven skin pigmentation
  • Enlivens dull, stressed or congested skin
  • Fades superficial scars
  • Reduces blackheads and white spots
  • Helps prevent clogged pores
  • Allows increased moisturizer/skin care product absorption

Where Can I Get Microdermabrasion Done?

Regular microdermabrasion is generally conducted in either a spa, a beauty salon or the home.

Professional microdermabrasion machines can cost anything upwards of $10,000, but personal or home microdermabrasion units can be bought for between two and three hundred dollars which such suddenly makes this treatment a viable option for the home.

Whilst standard microdermabrasion machines do require ongoing consumables (abrasive crystals), other variants of microdermabrasion machines include even simpler (vacuum) units, which have interchangeable tips of varying coarseness that attach to the end of a vacuum tube, which is pulled across the skin producing the same results. These units are much more cost effective, as they require no ongoing commitment to consumables.

Can I Carry Out Microdermabrasion Myself?

Yes. Microdermabrasion is a fairly simple, easy, painless, and non-invasive, skin rejuvenation procedure that carries little risk provided you follow any manufacturer instructions carefully.

As it is a non-invasive treatment, there are no needles or anesthetics required. Vacuum pressures and speed should be adjusted depending on the sensitivity and tolerance of the skin. Always perform a test on your forearm before moving on to your face.

How Long does Microdermabrasion Take?

A treatment session can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, it really depends on how much skin you want to abrade. Because it isn’t an invasive treatment, little or no recovery time is required after microdermabrasion with most people returning immediately to their regular routine after a session.

As microdermabrasion is a skin resurfacing procedure, it has the advantage of being low risk and having a rapid recovery time, compared to other more invasive resurfacing methods such as dermabrasion, chemical peeling, and laser resurfacing which must all be performed by a professional. Since microdermabrasion produces only a very superficial depth of removal, it works best on improving skin conditions such as (mild) sun damage, fine lines, age spots, enlarged pores, acne, and superficial scarring.

And How Often Should I Undergo Microdermabrasion Treatment?

You should see visible improvements almost immediately, with softer, smoother and rejuvenated skin being the result. But ongoing regular weekly treatments should produce significant improvements. After a couple of months, you may choose to move to monthly or bi-monthly treatments to maintain your complexion.

Some Precautions and Potential Side-Effects of Microdermabrasion…

You may choose to use protective goggles during treatment, but they’re by no means essential. You may also choose to remove makeup and cleanse the skin to be treated.

During microdermabrasion treatment, the skin is stretched slightly to provide some tension in order to achieve better abrasion and vacuum. The handheld wand is moved over the skin with repeated, smooth passes. Usually, 2 to 4 passes per area should be enough.

Post treatment, your skin may be rosier in the treated areas due to your bodies natural reaction to push blood to any areas of the skin that it perceives to be damaged or in distress. This rosiness should subside soon after treatment.

You may also potentially display some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Some skin tightness
  • Some skin flushing or redness
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Small skin abrasions
  • Spots of bleeding
  • Fine broken blood vessels

Treated areas will also more sensitive to the sun, so you will be required to apply plenty of sunscreen and moisturizer.

All in all, treatment risks are very minimal and may include temporary skin discoloration but side effects are temporary and are significantly less compared to other more traditional resurfacing procedures.

A quick word on Dermabrasion…

Microdermabrasion should not be confused with dermabrasion which is an invasive surgical procedure performed usually by dermatologists, medical professionals or plastic surgeons under local or general anesthesia.

Dermabrasion is performed under anesthesia because it is much more invasive and would prove to be much too painful to conduct otherwise.

Once again though, this treatment at it’s most basic, is an exfoliating treatment, albeit a seemingly extreme one!

This method of exfoliating your skin is performed with the use of a tool specially designed for dermabrasion. The top surface of the skin is usually removed with the aid of a rapidly rotating wheel, which can have various surface materials such as rough-edged diamonds, sand paper like products and it’s even possible to complete this procedure using a wire brush!

Needless to say, the areas treated in the dermabrasion procedure will bleed. This relatively mild injury has the effect of both removing old dead skin cells (exfoliating) and evening out (smoothing) the surface of the skin. This mild injury encourages the natural response in the body to produce new cells, which will speed the healing process, and will add to your skin’s glow  once fully healed.

The resulting open wounds can take between 5 and 20 days to completely heal. Unfortunately, post procedure, there is also an increased risk of infection due to treated areas being essentially an open wound.

Please remember, this procedure should only be undertaken by, dermatologists, medical professionals or plastic surgeons.

Are there Alternatives to Microdermabrasion?

Hanging on to the coat tails of microdermabrasion treatments are a whole range of at-home kits for people who are seeking an at-home solution but without the mechanized removal of their top layer of skin. These kits usually include abrasive creams or scrubs and some form of applicator tool. The abrasive creams often contain aluminum oxide crystals, which are a tip of the hat to professional microdermabrasion practitioners.

In addition to creams and scrubs, there are microdermabrasion cloths and sponges which have abrasive aluminum oxide crystals embedded within them as a means to achieve the result of skin resurfacing.

To conclude: In short, all of the above can and do produce effective skin rejuvenation to a greater or lesser degree and their popularity show no signs of abating.

As ever, choose you treatment wisely.

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