What is dermabrasion?

A popular way to improve the surface appearance of the skin, dermabrasion is an exfoliating technique which makes use of a rapidly rotating instrument (a wire brush or diamond wheel with rough edges, referred to as a fraise or burr), known as a dermabrader, to remove the outer (superficial) layers of the skin. The spinning or rotating action of the instrument levels off (also known as planing or abrading) the top layers of the skin, revealing newer and smoother ones for re-growth.

This process is abrasive and does ‘injure the skin’ somewhat, causing it to bleed a little. The skin that grows back during the healing process, replacing the damaged layers of skin, is usually younger-looking and smoother.

The depth of skin removal may depend on the following factors:

  • The amount of pressure that is applied (and the duration of time)
  • The overall condition of the skin being treated
  • The coarseness of the instrument used and how fast it rotates

Usually an outpatient procedure done in a dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s office, this treatment is most often used for correcting sun damage, fine lines, rosacea, uneven texture and acne scars (often on the facial area). The appearance of unwanted marking such as lines and scars can be considerably reduced with dermabrasion treatments.

Many have dermabrasion treatments for these purposes as stand-alone procedures or in combination with other recommended cosmetic procedures. The ‘sanding down’ of skin can leave it feeling rather sensitive and inflamed for a short period of time (a few weeks), which gradually fades. 

NEXT Why is dermabrasion performed?

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