Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a skin-resurfacing procedure done to reduce the appearance of scars, fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage, uneven skin tone, rhinophyma (excessive redness and swelling of the nose), patchiness and markings caused by acne. This procedure uses a rapidly rotating device to sand the outer layers of skin to remove dead and damaged skin leading to new skin to grow in its place. The new skin is smoother and younger looking creating a radiant glow.

Who is a good candidate for dermabrasion?

In order to be considered a good candidate for dermabrasion your must be in overall good health and a non-smoker. If you do smoke you will be asked to refrain from smoking for at least two weeks before your procedure. You will also need to remain smoke free as you heal to give your skin a chance to receive ample oxygen. Smoking interferes with the brain’s ability to properly take in oxygen and it’s important that you get enough before, during and after your treatment.

Those with sun damage, acne scars and marks, uneven skin tone and extreme redness are ideal candidates for dermabrasion. However, if you have keloids (overgrown scar tissue that sit on top of the skin), cystic acne, herpes simplex, pus-filled acne, radiation damage or have taken certain oral acne medications you will not be able to undergo a dermabrasion procedure.

What does the recovery process following a dermabrasion procedure entail?

As soon as your treatment is completed, your surgeon will cover your skin with a moist, non-stick dressing. Your surgeon will schedule a follow up shortly after your procedure so that your dressing can be changed and he/she can address your skin’s progress. Your doctor may also give you instructions on how to change the dressing yourself.

Following your dermabrasion procedure your skin will be red and swollen. Some people experience extreme itching, burning or tingling while others only mildly experience these side-effects. As the old layers of skin beging to fall off, a scab or crust will form before allowing the new skin to emerge. As the new skin begins to grow you may find your face itchy but this will fade. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication to help you deal with your discomfort. Although, many people are able to use over-the-counter pain relief medications such as Tylenol to manage their discomfort.

You will need to wait until your surgeon gives you clearance to begin washing your face as normal. In the interim your doctor will let you know when you can start applying protective ointments like petroleum jelly or sunscreen. When you return to work is up to you but it’s recommended that you stay at home for two weeks and avoid active sports, swimming or intense exercise for at least 4-6 weeks.

Makeup can only be worn once the new skin has completely grown in. Your skin may remain pink or reddish for about three months and be completely sensitive to the touch during that time period as well. This is normal and only a cause for concern if you notice a rash, swelling or infection. Should these things occur, visit your doctor immediately so he/she can prescribe antibiotics or steroid cream to deal with this unfortunate turn in your skin.

What to look for in this type of surgeon?

Although, dermabrasion is not technically a surgical procedure it must be performed by a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. There is only one recognized body of plastic surgeons in the country and it is the Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (CSAPS). Your surgeon must be a member of CSAPS and board-certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Dermatologists must be accredited by the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) in order to practice in Canada.

Below you’ll find three questions to ask potential surgeons and dermatologists to see if they’re the right fit to perform your dermabrasion procedure:

1. How many dermabrasions have you done?

2. Where did you do your training?

3. How long have you been a practicing surgeon/dermatologist?

What happens during this skin-resurfacing procedure?

Before your dermabrasion, you will receive a numbing agent or local anesthetic for your skin. Your doctor can also give you a sedative or general anesthesia if you are nervous. Then, while a member of your surgeon’s team will hold your skin taut as your surgeon moves the dermabrader across your face. The dermabrader is a small handheld motorized device with a wheel or brush tip that safely removes the outer skin layers to reveal the smoother skin underneath.

Dermabrasion can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. It depends on how much skin is being treated and how much scarring you have. Your surgeon may recommend that treatment be done in stages if your skin is severely damaged.

Before undergoing a dermabrasion procedure you will need to stop using certain medications such as blood thinners. You will also need to stop smoking and avoid unprotected sun exposure. Additionally, your surgeon may prescribe antiviral medication or an oral antibiotic if your skin is acne-prone. Finally, you may be asked to use a retinoid cream a few weeks prior to your dermabrasion (depending on your skin type) to promote healing, keep your pores unclogged and ensure collagen growth isn’t interrupted.

Microdermabrasion is a skin-resurfacing technique that removes the superficial layer of dead skin. Instead of removing multiple layers of skin as a dermabrasion would do, a microdermabrasion is only a surface-level treatment. This mild skin-resurfacing technique doesn’t need to be performed by a surgeon or dermatologist but a certified technician at a spa or wellness centre.

Dermabrasion is not a cure for acne. This procedure will remove any scarring or marks caused by acne but it will not keep it away completely.