Smoothing Skin with Microdermabrasion

Exfoliating your skin is a popular anti-aging regimen, and one readily available procedure is microdermabrasion. Just don’t confuse it with dermabrasion, which is a deeper removal of skin layers with a longer healing time and must be done by a physician, such as a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Facial microdermabrasion can be done at home, a spa, or a doctor’s office.

Skin microdermabrasion means superficially abrading, or sanding, some of the top skin layer. Skin looks rejuvenated because microdermabrasion softens fine lines and shallow wrinkles. Microdermabrasion acne treatments can also be helpful to improve the look of your complexion.

Microdermabrasion techniques depend on whether you’re trying the treatment at home or having it done by a professional. If you buy an at-home kit, you’ll typically use a manual pad that contains fine crystals to sand your skin. If you go to a spa or medical office, an aesthetitician, nurse, or doctor will use a machine that will shoot out small crystals at a high velocity and suction them back up to smooth the skin, explains Monica Gavin, MD, owner and medical director of Azani Medical Spa in Bethlehem, PA. As a result, you’ll see an improvement in fine lines and wrinkles and your skin will look revived.

There’s also a similar procedure called Vibradermabrasion. This method uses a vibrating paddle, rather than crystals, to sand the top layer of skin. The technique allows the user to get closer to the eye, where wrinkles tend to settle, without risking injury to the eye. Vibradermabrasion is also able to go a little deeper and infuse medical-grade skin care products into the skin.

How do you know which skin microdermabrasion approach is right for you? Consider their pros and cons.

Microdermabrasion at Home

Time and money are the biggest reasons people don’t opt for professional skin microdermabrasion, Gavin says. But using an at-home kit is better than not exfoliating at all.

  • Pros: At-home kits are by far the most affordable. Most are under $100 and some cost as little as $20. They can be used once a week by most people, Gavin says. However, if you have very sensitive skin, you may want to limit treatments to once every two weeks.
  • Cons: The quality of at-home kits can’t compare to a professional dermabrasion treatment, Gavin says. You’ll get more noticeable results at a spa or doctor’s office.

Microdermabrasion at the Spa

You won’t need to exfoliate as often when you get skin microdermabrasion from a professional. Gavin recommends a professional microdermabrasion treatment once a month. However, if time and money prevent that, once every three months is adequate, she says.

  • Pros: A professional microdermabrasion treatment will give you better results than using an at-home kit and you’ll get the treatment in the luxurious setting of the spa.
  • Cons: When you’re going to a spa for facial microdermabrasion, you have to take the extra step to ensure that a medical doctor oversees the facility. Microdermabrasion can cause broken capillaries, skin bruising, or eye damage if the crystals get into the eye, Gavin says. However, the risk is low when medically trained professionals are performing the procedure. Also, be sure you don’t have it done too often — no more than once a month — because it can cause skin inflammation.

The procedure will also be more expensive at a spa than at home. Gavin estimates that microdermabrasion typically costs about $100 to $150.

Microdermabrasion at the Doctor’s Office

A doctor’s office offers the security of having the treatment done in a medical setting.

  • Pros: Microdermabrasion in a medical facility will give you better results than an at-home kit. And because you’re in a doctor’s office, you don’t have to worry about staff, as the physician performs or oversees the treatments.
  • Cons: Going to a doctor’s office will usually cost more than going to a spa for microdermabrasion. Expect to pay around $200 at the doctor’s office. You should make sure that the doctor is well trained, has plenty of experience, and is board certified.
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