Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion can decrease the appearance of wrinkles. It can also improve the look of scars, such as those caused by surgery or acne.

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1 Dermabrasion Introduction Dermabrasion is a procedure that resurfaces a person s skin. A health care provider uses a device known as a dermabrader to quickly sand away the outer layers of skin. After dermabrasion, the skin that grows back usually looks smoother and younger. Dermabrasion can decrease the appearance of wrinkles. It can also improve the look of scars, such as those caused by surgery or acne. This reference summary explains dermabrasion. It discusses the procedure, its risks and its results. The Skin The skin is the body s largest organ. Skin protects us against heat, light, injury and infection. Skin also regulates body temperature and stores water and fat. It helps the body make vitamin D, an important nutrient needed for the body to stay Epidermis healthy. The skin is made of two main layers: the outer epidermis and inner dermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. It is made of flat, scale-like cells called squamous cells. The deepest part of the epidermis contains melanocytes. These cells produce melanin, which gives the skin its color. Dermis Anatomy of the Skin As we get older, our skin changes. It starts to wrinkle, lose its elasticity and sag. Smoking and sun exposure increase the speed of changes to the skin caused by aging. These changes can lead to facial wrinkles. 1

2 Our faces are the first thing people see and notice. They show our expressions, feelings and personalities. Women s faces start to change at an earlier age than men s. This is because women s skin is thinner and does not have as much blood supply. Changes usually start in the early 40 s for women and the late 40 s for men. Acne is a common skin disease that causes pimples. Pimples form when hair follicles under your skin are clogged. Most pimples form on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. Anyone can get acne, but it is common in teenagers and young adults. It is not life threatening, but it can cause scars. A scar is a permanent patch of skin that grows over a wound. It forms when your body heals itself after a cut, scrape, burn or sore. You can also get scars from: Surgery that cuts through the skin. Infections like chickenpox. Certain skin conditions. Scars are often thicker, as well as pinker, redder or shinier, than the rest of your skin. Dermabrasion Dermabrasion, also known as surgical skin planing, is a cosmetic procedure. It is used to exfoliate, or remove, the outermost layer and middle layers of skin cells from the epidermis. Dermabrasion can be used to treat or remove: Scars caused by acne, surgery, disease or injuries. Wrinkles, especially those around the mouth. Sun damaged skin, including age spots. Uneven skin tone. Dermabrasion can also be used to treat: Rosacea, a chronic swelling and redness of the face. It may cause skin sores that look like acne. Stretch marks. Rhinophyma, or swelling and redness of the nose. Actinic keratoses, skin patches that have the potential to develop into cancer. 2

3 Dermabrasion can also be used to remove a tattoo on the body. You might consider tattoo removal if: You regret a tattoo. You are unhappy with the look of your tattoo. The tattoo has faded or blurred. You have developed an allergic reaction to the tattoo. The decision to have dermabrasion is reached by you and your health care provider. To make an educated decision, good communication is important. The health care provider needs to evaluate your general health and find out what you expect from dermabrasion. He or she will then examine your skin to determine what changes can be made. The tone and thickness of your skin might affect your results. Be prepared to answer questions about: Current and past medical conditions. Any medications you're taking or have taken recently. Any cosmetic procedures you've had in the past. You should have realistic expectations about what dermabrasion can do for you. You should also understand the possible risks and complications, as well as the cost of the procedure. Dermabrasion may not be covered by your insurance provider. Dermabrasion isn't for everyone. It may not be right for you if you: Have taken certain acne medications in the past year. Have a personal or family history of keloids. Keloids are ridged areas. They are caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue. Have acne or a skin condition. Have recurring cold sores. Have burn scars or skin that has been damaged by radiation treatments. 3

4 Before dermabrasion, your health care provider may recommend that you: Stop using certain medications, including blood thinners and any medications that may cause skin to become darker than normal. Stop smoking for a week or two before and after dermabrasion. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. Take an antiviral medication or oral antibiotic to prevent infection. Use a retinoid cream to help speed healing. Avoid unprotected sun exposure. The Procedure Dermabrasion is usually done in an office procedure room or outpatient surgical facility. This procedure usually takes anywhere from a minute to over an hour, depending on the treatment area. Before the procedure, a member of your health care team will clean and mark the area that will be treated. A topical anesthetic may be applied to your skin to decrease sensation. Your skin will then be numbed with local anesthetics. Anesthetics are drugs that cause a loss of feeling or awareness. The type of anesthetic you are given will depend on the size of the area being treated with dermabrasion. General anesthetics may be used if the area is large. These cause a loss of feeling and a complete loss of awareness. It feels like a very deep sleep. A dermabrader is a small, motorized device. It has an abrasive wheel or brush for a tip. During dermabrasion, a member of your health care team will hold your skin tightly. Your health care provider will move the dermabrader across your skin with constant, gentle pressure. He or she will carefully remove the outer layers of skin to reveal new, smoother skin. You may have more than one dermabrasion treatment if you have deep scarring or if you are having a large amount of skin treated. Risks Dermabrasion can cause various side effects. After dermabrasion, treated Dermabrader skin will be red and swollen. Swelling will start to go away within a few days to one week. But it might last for weeks or even months. After dermabrasion, treated skin may bleed a little. With proper skin care, bleeding will stop on its own. 4

5 Dermabrasion might cause your pores to grow larger. Typically, pores shrink to near normal size after swelling decreases. You might also notice tiny white bumps on treated skin. These bumps, known as millia, are similar to acne. They usually disappear on their own. If they do not disappear, they can be treated with the use of soap or an abrasive pad. Dermabrasion might cause freckles to disappear from treated areas. If you are a person who often develops allergic skin rashes or other skin reactions, dermabrasion might cause a flare up of your symptoms. Dermabrasion often causes treated skin to temporarily become: Darker than normal. Lighter than normal. Blotchy. These problems are more common in people who have darker skin. They can sometimes be permanent. Rarely, dermabrasion can lead to: A bacterial, fungal or viral infection. A flare up of cold sores. Scarring. Steroid medications can be used to soften the appearance of scars. After the Procedure If you were sedated or had general anesthesia during dermabrasion, you will need help getting home after the procedure. Arrange for a ride home from a family member or friend. Skin treated with dermabrasion will be sensitive and bright pink for several weeks. After dermabrasion, treated skin will be covered with a moist, nonstick dressing. Your health care provider can examine your skin and change your dressing about 24 hours after treatment. At home, change your dressing once a day for about five days or as long as your health care provider recommends. You can then begin cleaning the treated area and applying ointments, such as petroleum jelly. 5

6 While you're healing: Treated skin will be red and swollen. You will probably feel some burning, tingling or aching. Treated skin may ooze a yellowish liquid. A scab or crust will form over treated skin as it begins to heal. The growth of new skin may be itchy. Your health care provider may prescribe pain medication to ease your symptoms. You might have difficulty eating or speaking if the treated area is close to your mouth. Eating soft foods can reduce stress on your skin. You might want to stay at home while you're healing from dermabrasion. Keep treated areas out of chlorinated water for at least four weeks. Your health care provider may also recommend avoiding active sports, especially those involving a ball, for four to six weeks. After one or two weeks, new skin should completely cover the treated area. You can use cosmetics to hide redness. Once the treated area begins to heal, you will notice that your skin looks smoother. Protect your skin from the sun with sun block to prevent permanent changes in skin color. Your health care provider might prescribe a bleaching agent to help even out your skin tone. Contact your health care provider if your skin looks like it is getting worse instead of better, or if you notice any signs of scarring. Dermabrasion results might not be permanent. As you age, your skin will continue to wrinkle. New sun damage can reverse your results. 6

7 Summary Dermabrasion is a procedure that resurfaces a person s skin. A health care provider uses a device known as a dermabrader to quickly sand away the outer layers of skin. After dermabrasion, the skin that grows back usually looks smoother and younger. Dermabrasion can be used to treat or remove: Scars caused by acne, surgery, disease or injuries. Wrinkles, especially those around the mouth. Sun damaged skin, including age spots. Uneven skin tone. Tattoos. During dermabrasion, a member of your health care team will hold your skin taut. Your health care provider will move the dermabrader across your skin with constant, gentle pressure. He or she will carefully remove the outer layers of skin to reveal new, smoother skin. While you're healing: Treated skin will be red and swollen. You will probably feel some burning, tingling or aching. Treated skin may ooze a yellowish liquid. A scab or crust will form over treated skin as it begins to heal. The growth of new skin may be itchy. 7

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