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The procedures of dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are effective at treating a range of skin conditions. Both cosmetic procedures should be administered in close consultation between doctor and patient as they can be designed to treat a range of specific conditions. There are, however, some key differences in the two procedures.

What is dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a technique whereby a device is used to abrade or level the upper layer of skin. The procedure is carried out with a wire brush or diamond-dust coated wheel. With the upper layer of skin removed some bleeding and rawness does occur – although this is necessary to allow new skin to grow in its place. Because of its intensity, dermabrasion requires significant prepping, such as anaesthesia, and post-procedural treatment and care to ensure its safety and efficacy.

What is microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion differs from dermabrasion in its level of intensity and its ability to apply ‘finer brushstrokes’. The procedure utilises a special device that bombards the skin with fine aluminium oxide crystals to target specific areas in need of attention. The skin exposed beneath these targeted, ‘dead’ layers is younger and healthier and starts to experience its own increased collagen and elastin production. The downtime following microdermabrasion is significantly lower than that for dermabrasion, which is far more invasive.

What do these two procedures treat?

Microdermabrasion is effective at treating light acne scarring, fine wrinkles, age spots, enlarged pores and skin discolouration.

Dermabrasion is sometimes required to treat deep facial and acne scarring and extreme sun damage.

Are there any side effects of microdermabrasion?

Due to the non-invasive and non-surgical nature of microdermabrasion, side effects – even mild ones – are extremely rare. The process, too, is not a painful one and can be completed in the time it takes to go on a lunch break. There might be some slight sensitivity following treatment, but this can be mitigated through good practice and consultation with your treating professional.

Why get microdermabrasion?

Some pharmacies and day spas will offer DIY or cosmetic microdermabrasion kits or services. Medically qualified professionals, however, are bound by strict practice guidelines to ensure sterilisation of their equipment. This limits the risk of any infections or further complications. And because of their increased power and efficacy, professionally administered microdermabrasion will also require less frequency of use and fewer overall treatments for greater results.