What is it?
Dermabrasion can help restore evenness to the surface of the skin for patients with an irregular facial skin surface resulting from facial wrinkles, acne scarring or injury. Talk with your surgeon about the many non-surgical options, such as laser resurfacing and chemical peels available to you to help smooth and even eliminate the appearance of fine lines on the face.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to "refinish" the skin's top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance. Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles, such as those around the mouth. It's also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is commonly used to treat deep acne scars.
Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.
The procedure when used in a series of treatments, promotes discernible changes in texture, color, and appearance. In conjunction with the BioMedic® process it is effective in treating the following common conditions.
- Blackheads and whiteheads
- Fine wrinkles
- Sun damaged skin
- Acne prone skin
- Age spots
- Post laser hyperpigmentation
Some Uncertainty and Risk
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning are normally safe when they're performed by a qualified, experienced board-certified physician. The most common risk is a change in skin pigmentation. Permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by exposure to the sun in the days or months following surgery, may occur in some patients. On the other hand, some patients find the treated skin remains a little lighter or blotchy in appearance.
You may develop tiny whiteheads after surgery. These usually disappear on their own, or with the use of an abrasive pad or soap; occasionally, the surgeon may have to remove them. You may also develop enlarged skin pores; these usually shrink to near normal size once the swelling has subsided.
While infection and scarring are rare with skin-refinishing treatments, they are possible. Some individuals develop excessive scar tissue (keloid or hypertrophic scars); these are usually treated with the application or injection of steroid medications to soften the scar.
You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon and closely following his or her advice.
Before the Surgery
Because these treatments have sometimes been offered by inadequately trained practitioners, it's especially important that you find a doctor (generally a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist) who is trained and experienced in the procedure. After all, dermabrasion and dermaplaning usually involve the most visible part of your body-your face.
In your initial consultation, be open in discussing your expectations with your surgeon, and don't hesitate to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have. Your surgeon should be equally open with you, explaining the factors that could influence the procedure and the results-such as your age, skin condition, and previous plastic surgeries.
The surgeon will discuss your medical history, conduct a routine examination, and photograph your face. He or she should explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period, and the costs. Insurance usually doesn't cover cosmetic procedures, however, it may cover dermabrasion or dermaplaning when performed to remove precancerous skin growths or extensive scars. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning may be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort. Sometimes a numbing spray, such a freon, is used along with or instead of local anesthesia. Or, in more severe cases, your surgeon may prefer to use general anesthesia, in which case you'll sleep through the procedure.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed fairly quickly. The procedures usually take from a few minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how large an area of skin is involved. It's not uncommon for the procedure to be performed more than once, or in stages, especially when scarring is deep or a large area of skin is involved.
In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the outermost layer of skin with a rough wire brush, or a burr containing diamond particles, attached to a motorized handle. The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible.
In dermaplaning, the surgeon uses a hand-held instrument called a dermatome. Resembling an electric razor, the dermatome has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly "skim" off the surface layers of skin that surround the craters or other facial defects. This skimming continues until the lowest point of the acne scar becomes more even with the surrounding skin.
The surgeon may then treat the skin in a number of ways, including ointment, a wet or waxy dressing, dry treatment, or some combination of these.
After Your Surgery
Right after the procedure, your skin will be quite red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult. You'll probably feel some tingling, burning, or aching; any pain you feel can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon. The swelling will begin to subside in a few days to a week.
If you remember the scrapes you got when you fell down as a child, you'll have an idea of what to expect from this type of surgery. A scab or crust will form over the treated area as it begins to heal. This will fall off as a new layer of tight, pink skin forms underneath. Your face may itch as new skin starts to grow, and your surgeon may recommend an ointment to make you more comfortable. If ointment is applied immediately after surgery, little or no scab will form.
In any case, you surgeon will give you detailed instructions to care for your skin after surgery. For men, this will include delaying shaving for a while, then using an electric razor at first. It's very important that you understand your doctor's instructions and follow them exactly, to ensure the best possible healing.
If you notice the treated area beginning to get worse instead of better-for example, if it becomes increasingly red, raised, and itchy after it has started to heal-it may be a sign that abnormal scars are beginning to form. Call your surgeon as soon as possible, so that treatment can begin early.
Your New Look
Refinishing treatments can offer dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results.
The pinkness of your skin will take about three months to fade. In the meantime, you'll probably want to wear non-allergenic makeup when you go out. (For tips on hiding your condition while it heals, ask your surgeon for the ASPS brochure on camouflage cosmetics.) When your new skin is fully repigmented, the color should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.