Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure used to renew overall skin tone and texture. It can improve the appearance of sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, acne scarring, melasma, and other skin-related concerns and conditions. The procedure uses a special applicator with an abrasive surface to gently sand away the thick outer layer of the skin to rejuvenate it.

In 2016 alone, more than 580,000 microdermabrasion procedures were performed in the United States according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

Microdermabrasion is considered a safe procedure for all skin types and colors. It commonly interests those who have the following skin concerns:

  • fine lines and wrinkles
  • hyperpigmentation, age spots and brown spots
  • enlarged pores and blackheads
  • acne and acne scars
  • stretch marks
  • dull-looking skin complexion
  • uneven skin tone and texture
  • melasma
  • sun damage

How much does microdermabrasion cost?

According to the ASAPS, the national average cost of a microdermabrasion procedure was $139 in 2016. The total cost will depend on your provider’s fees, as well as your geographic location.

Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure. Medical insurance doesn’t typically cover the cost.

Preparing for microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a nonsurgical, minimally invasive procedure. There’s very little you need to do to prepare for it. Make sure to discuss your skin concerns with a skin care professional to find out if microdermabrasion is the right fit for you. Discuss any past cosmetic procedures and surgeries, as well as allergies and medical conditions.

You may be told to avoid sun exposure, tanning creams, and waxing for about a week before treatment. You may also be advised to stop using exfoliating creams and masks approximately three days prior to treatment. Remove any makeup and cleanse your face before the procedure begins.

How does microdermabrasion work?

Microdermabrasion is an in-office procedure that usually takes about one hour. It’s typically performed by a licensed skincare professional, who may or may not be under the supervision of a healthcare provider. This depends on the state in which you live.

There are a few different ways to do the procedure, based on the specific device used:

  • A diamond-tip handpiece will gently exfoliate dead cells in your skin. At the same time, it will suction them off immediately. The depth of the abrasion may be affected by the pressure exerted on the handpiece as well as how long the suction is allowed to remain on the skin. This type of microdermabrasion applicator is generally used in more sensitive facial areas, such close to the eyes.
  • Crystal microdermabrasion uses a crystal-emitting handpiece to gently rub away outer layers of the skin. As with the diamond-tip handpiece, dead skin cells are suctioned off right away. The different types of crystals that may be used include aluminum oxide and sodium chloride.
  • Hydradermabrasion is a newer method. It involves combining simultaneous dermal infusion of products and crystal-free exfoliation. The entire process stimulates collagen production and maximizes blood flow to your skin.

It’s not necessary to use anesthesia or a numbing agent for microdermabrasion. During your appointment, you’ll be seated in a reclining chair. Your provider will use handheld device to gently sand away the outer layer of skin in the targeted areas. At the end of the treatment, a moisturizer will be applied to your skin.

Side effects of microdermabrasion

Common side effects of microdermabrasion include mild tenderness, swelling, and redness. These should go away within a few hours post-treatment. You might be advised to use a moisturizer to minimize dry and flaky skin. Minor bruising may also occur. This is mostly caused by the suction process during the treatment.

Microdermabrasion was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1996. Since then, hundreds of microdermabrasion devices have been produced.

What to expect after microdermabrasion

There is little to no downtime after microdermabrasion. You should be able to resume your daily activities immediately. Keep your skin hydrated and use gentle skincare products. Avoid using topical acne medications for at least one day post-treatment. It’s extremely important to protect your skin with sunscreen — your skin can be more sensitive to the sun in the few weeks after the treatment.

You can expect to see noticeable results immediately after the procedure. The number of microdermabrasion sessions needed will depend on the severity of your skin concerns as well as your expectations. Your provider should design a plan for the initial number of sessions, as well as periodic maintenance treatments.

According to the 2016 Consumer Survey conducted by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, microdermabrasion has a general satisfaction rate of 95 percent.