Dermabrasion

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

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. It's also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is also 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.

Risks and recovery

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 may occur in some patients due to sun exposure in the days or months following surgery. 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 (the surgeon may have to remove them occasionally). 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 advi

Where Your Surgery Will Be Performed

Your treatment may be performed in a surgeon's office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It's usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. However, if you're undergoing extensive work, you may be admitted to the hospital.

Types of Anesthesia

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. In more severe cases, your surgeon may prefer to use general anesthesia, in which case you'll sleep through the procedure.

The Surgery

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed fairly quickly. The procedures usually take anywhere 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.