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Dr. Michaels' Blog

Microdermabrasion; what is it? What can it do for me?

In 2013 microdermabrasion was one of the top 5 non-surgical cosmetic procedures performed in the United States. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons,  974,000 microdermabrasion procedures were performed in 2013, an increase of 8% from 2012.

Techniques to sand the skin have been around a long time. Ancient Egyptian physicians used sandpaper to smooth scars. When German surgeons in the early 1900’s developed rotating wheels to remove the upper layers of the skin, dermabrasion was invented.

Dermabrasion became mechanized in the 1950’s when a drill-like machine was used to spin a sanding wheel. Results became more reliable. The procedure removed the upper layers of skin to improve the appearance of scars and wrinkles. Downsides to the patient with this early form of dermabrasion included the need for anesthesia, 10-14 days of healing and the risk of additional scarring.

There were also risks to the physicians. In 1985 Italian dermatologists, Drs Mattioli and Brutto, feared they might inhale aerosolized viruses during dermabrasion and could theoretically contract diseases like Hepatitis B and HIV from their patients. They developed a technique similar to sandblasting which used a “closed-loop” system to filter the air. They found that using this method they could turn down the power and still achieve a result without actually breaking the skin.

Nowadays microdermabrasion is used to improve the texture of the skin, remove blackheads and blotches, and polish the skin with no pain or downtime.  Superficial scars are softer and smoother. And after microdermabrasion, topical creams penetrate the skin more effectively, and makeup looks better.