What is 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 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.

What you should know before getting dermabrasion treatment

If you're planning "surface repairs" on your face, you may also be considering chemical peel, an alternative method of surgically removing the top layer of skin. However, dermabrasion and dermaplaning use surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses a caustic solution.

Many plastic surgeons perform all three procedures, selecting one or a combination of procedures to suit the individual patient and the problem. Others prefer one technique for all surface repairs. In general, chemical peel is used more often to treat fine wrinkles, and dermabrasion and dermaplaning for deeper imperfections such as acne scars. A non-chemical approach may also be preferred for individuals with slightly darker skin, especially when treating limited areas of the face, since dermabrasion and dermaplaning are less likely to produce extreme changes and contrasts in skin colour.

Be prepared to discuss:
  • · Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
  • · Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • · Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • · Previous surgeries
Your surgeon may also:
  • · Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • · Discuss the options available to you for dermabrasion
  • · Examine and measure different parts of your face
  • · Take photographs for your medical record
  • · Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
  • · Discuss likely outcomes of dermabrasion and any risks or potential complications

Important facts about the risks of dermabrasion

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.

The risks include:
  • · Redness and swelling around the treated area
  • · The new skin will be sensitive and bright pink for several weeks
  • · Acne
  • · Enlarged pores
  • · Changes in skin colour
  • · Infection
  • · Scarring
  • · Allergic skin rashes or other skin reactions
Be sure to ask questions

It's very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about dermabrasion. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.