Developed relatively recently, microdermabrasion is a non-invasive cosmetic treatment designed to intensively exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells and leaving the patient’s face looking fresher and younger. It is commonly used to treat mild acne scars, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage, and reducing oiliness.
In contrast to dermabrasion, where the skin is rubbed off through manual means (such as sandpaper!), microdermabrasion uses a special tool that shoots a stream of tiny crystals of corundum or aluminium oxide. These crystals are used because their jagged edges make them ideal for abrasion, while their chemical composition means they are safe for use on the skin. They also have antibacterial properties which are good for the treatment of acne.
The tool often employs vacuum suction to raise a specific area of the skin for treatment, as well as collecting the crystals and dead skin for disposal. This stimulates collagen production from the skin, making it naturally fill out light scars until they are almost invisible – for this reason, microdermabrasion is also used to treat stretch marks. Other tools use a diamond-tipped wand on the skin rather than a stream of particles.
Usually, a procedure will begin with the doctor cleaning the patient’s skin with a specially-formulated gel. After this, they will move the tool back and forth over the face to ensure even coverage, and finally another gel will be applied to the patient’s face to soothe it and protect it from the sun. The entire procedure is often over in less than ten minutes, which is why so many people have it done during their lunch breaks.
The process itself does not hurt – most people describe it as a mild scratching sensation. Afterwards, the skin will be tender for a few days, with a feeling like mild sunburn as it heals. Recommendations for frequency of treatments vary from provider to provider – for instance, MYA advises a course of treatments approximately every two weeks, with repeat treatments every one to three months afterwards.
Microdermabrasion is popular because the procedure is so quick and free from the complications sometimes associated with comparable treatments that use chemicals. While the treatment is not recommended for deep scarring, it is a convenient and painless way to alleviate many of the most common signs of ageing without needing to worry about side effects.
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