Microdermabrasion explained - what it is, how it works and what it does
Microdermabrasion is a quick and convenient way to achieve smoother skin.
It can help reduce the appearance of any shallow wrinkles and acne scars, but microdermabrasion facials may also treat uneven pigmentation, exfoliate dry patches, and brighten your complexion too.
But how exactly does it work – and what results can you expect?
In this article:
Duration of results
6 to 8 weeks
Back to work
Full recovery time
24 to 48 hours
30 to 60 min
Pain relief unnecessary
What is microdermabrasion?
A non-invasive, non-surgical treatment, microdermabrasion buffs away dead skin cells using abrasive diamonds or crystals.
Microdermabrasion facials can reduce the appearance of scarring, sun damage, redness and wrinkles. The treatment can also be used on other body areas, such as the back.
What does microdermabrasion do – and how does it work?
There are two main stages to the treatment. There is no need for any numbing creams or anaesthetic, nor are any artificial chemicals involved.
After cleaning the area to be treated, your clinician will use a small machine to buff away dead skin cells on the skin’s outer surface. The crystals used vary from practice to practice but can sometimes contain aluminium oxide and sodium chloride.
Removal of dead skin cells
After exfoliating, the microdermabrasion tool then uses suction to remove dead skin cells. It acts like a tiny vacuum sweeping away impurities, improving circulation and promoting rejuvenation. Your skin will begin to replace the dead cells with healthy ones.
Your skin will likely feel sensitive for 24 to 48 hours after your microdermabrasion treatment. It’s important to wear SPF creams and reapply often, as well as avoiding products with harsh chemicals. It’s also generally recommended you avoid wearing makeup for the first 24 hours, to give your skin time to heal. Try to avoid exercise for a day or so too.
You’ll likely see results after just one session, but the effects aren’t permanent – as skin cells regenerate on a regular basis (between six to eight weeks). It’s a good idea to book a course of treatment as you might also benefit from a deal on prices.
What else do I need to know about microdermabrasion?
Does microdermabrasion hurt?
The process isn’t usually painful, though you may find the sensation slightly uncomfortable or strange to begin with. If you do feel any pain, be sure to let your clinician know, as some people’s skin can be more sensitive than others.
Who is microdermabrasion suitable for?
Microdermabrasion treatments are suitable for those who want to improve the appearance of their skin, whether that be lessening the effects of acne scars, reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, or achieving noticeable plumpness and youthfulness on the skin’s surface. Although it is suitable for all adults, the best results are often seen on those in the early stages of ageing, between 35 and 50.
However, it may not be suitable for those with extremely sensitive skin or those with certain skin conditions, such as eczema, severe acne, lupus or rosacea. Speaking with your doctor or clinician before undergoing this treatment can help to check and ensure that your skin will react well.
How long does a microdermabrasion facial take?
The process is usually quick and convenient, taking around 30 minutes to an hour, including prep time.
What are the alternatives?
Staying hydrated and eating healthily can help to improve your complexion.
When it comes to water, drinking three-and-a-half litres per day is recommended for men, with two-and-a-half recommended for women.
In terms of diet, diversity really is the way. Look to eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables rich in fibre and polyphenols, cut out trans fats and reduce the amount of saturated fat and sugar you eat.
Consider investing in retinol creams to apply vitamin A, which can improve pigmentation, boost collagen production and help treat wrinkles and spots. Over time, this can result in an incredible, revitalising glow. Apply in small doses, less often at first, to help your skin adjust. There’s really no rush when it comes to finding the perfect formula.
Peels can be a great way of applying acid exfoliants to the skin with a professional treatment, to both rejuvenate and treat the surface. Glycolic acid is often effective but can inflame the skin. Lactic acid is a good alternative, as it can provide similar results minus these levels of irritation. Salicylic acid meanwhile is extremely good at treating acne. Visit our chemical peels guide to find out more.
This treatment rolls tiny needles over the skin to help stimulate collagen production. By ‘tricking’ the skin into feeling it has been injured, it then creates new healthy tissue – which can revitalise the area. Needling can be especially effective for acne scars. Learn more with our microneedling guide.
This innovative technique is at the cutting-edge; using a concentrated beam of heat to stimulate collagen production at a deep and focused level. It can help treat scarring and hyperpigmentation, as well as smoothing out lines and wrinkles. Discover everything you need to know with our laser resurfacing guide.
- Microdermabrasion is a relatively modern technology – first invented in Italy in 1985. Several decades on it has become increasingly popular, with the global market expected to reach more than US$800 million by 2023.
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