Microdermabrasion is an anti-aging, corrective and preventative skin care treatment designed to ultimately result in more youthful skin. This ultimate effect comes from the treatment's ability to reduce the appearance of skin discoloration, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, lend the skin's complexion an even-toned, fresh appearance, and improve softness. Since this nonsurgical cosmetic procedure is effective in changing the skin's color and texture, it can also be used to reduce the appearance of scars with continual and consistent use.
What It Is
Microdermabrasion is a skin care treatment that uses a fine-toothed "sander" to sweep exfoliating crystals over the outer layer of the skin. The treatment is most commonly performed on the face, but can also be used to improve other skin areas of the body, such as the arms, back of the hands, shoulders, back and chest.
How it Works
The skin is "sanded" with the small device and the exfoliating product, usually composed of aluminum oxide crystals, salt granules and/or baking soda. The top, most outer layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, is shed of its dead skin cells to reveal a new, fresh layer of skin. The process induces the production of new skin cells in the deepest layer of the dermis.
Effectiveness on Scars
Because microdermabrasion treatment removes old cells and stimulates new cell and collagen growth, the skin's color and evenness in texture is improved. Thus, microdermabrasion is effective in reducing the appearance of scars, and is often the method used to get rid of acne scars. However, the ability to completely remove a scar's visibility depends on the size, darkness and depth of the scar. Multiple microdermabrasion treatments are required to diminish a scar, and vanishing the scar might require incremental treatments over a year or longer.
Sources of Microdermabrasion Treatment
Years ago, an appointment with the dermatologist was the only way one could receive microdermabrasion. Demand and market growth have dramatically affected its availability, however, and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that microdermabrasion procedures in the United States accounted for almost 1 million of the total top five nonsurgical cosmetic procedures in 2007. The treatments can now be performed not only in the offices of dermatologists and plastic surgeons, but in beauty salons and spas, as well. In the mid-1990s, top cosmetic companies, such as Neutrogena and L'Oreal, began manufacturing microdermabrasion kits for home use. Since then, such kits have been mass marketed, and many people have incorporated microdermabrasion as an essential part of the home skin care regimen. (See "Resources" for a link to a list of at-home microdermabrasion kits.)
While microdermabrasion is effective in giving the skin a more youthful appearance, and can diminish the visibility scars, it also produces a rather ironic side effect. The new skin cells are substantially more sensitive to the sun's UV rays, among other environmental influences. Therefore, it is even more crucial that a strong suncreen be applied daily to protect the skin. Dermatologists also recommend that wide brimmed hats be worn outdoors after microdermabrasion treatment.
Isobel Washington has been a freelance journalist since 2007. Washington's work first surfaced in Europe, where she served as a restaurant critic and journalist for "LifeStyles" magazine. Her love of travel and culture inspired her first novel, which is currently underway. Washington has a 10-year career in marketing communication and holds a Bachelor of Science degree.