Microdermabrasion: the new fountain of youth?

MicrodermabrasionPossibly, or at least many people think so. Microdermabrasion began to be used in the United States in 1990, and has become increasingly popular. It is an esthetic procedure, which by using miniscule crystals or tiny, rough grains, manage to buff and smooth away the outer layer of the skin, or the stratum corneum.

In order to understand what microdermabrasion is, one must first understand the function of the skin and how it works, and consequently, how the microdermabrasion technique works on the skin.

What part of the skin does it affect?

The skin is actually the largest organ in your body, and it consists of two primary layers whose main purpose is to protect the body from extreme temperature, like a sunburn or dangerous chemicals. The epidermis, or to be more precise, the stratum corneum, is the outer layer of your skin, and the surface of the epidermis has the consistency that includes dead skin cells and keratin. There are no blood vessels contained in the epidermis or the stratum corneum . . . only dead skin cells. It is these dead skin cells that the microdermabrasion focuses on removing.

The layer under the epidermis is referred to as the dermis and is in no way involved in microdermabrasion treatment. The dermis contains 60% water and consists of dense connective tissue, the majority of which is termed collagen. The dermis is usually where skin rejuvenation occurs, and; therefore, dermabrasion is performed by physicians and or specialist and is for serious and medicinally treated patients. It also requires a lengthy healing time, which is almost completely unneeded with microdermabrasion.

Why should I use it?

The outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis, and on top of that, the stratum corneum, consists of dead skin cells. The presence of these dead skin cells is what makes skin, most especially the face, lack the lustrous glow that we had as youths – an automatic function as we age, we lose our collagen (a protein in our skin), and therefore our elasticity.

Furthermore, the presence of these dead skin cells prevent lotions and creams from completely penetrating down to the epidermal layer and providing the moisture where it is most needed. Consequently, having those dead skin cells removed by using microdermabrasion is an ideal way of restoring one’s youthful appearance, as well as assisting lotions and creams to reach their target areas – the epidermis.

Although collagen is located in the dermis portion of the skin, due to the effectiveness of microdermabrasion’s removal of dead skin cells, it allows the new cells from the dermis to become involved in the healing process. This healing process replenishes the dead skin cells from the stratum corneum, resulting in collagen being grown in the dermis.

The ideal person that should use microdermabrasion would be someone who has dull skin, a history of acne and clogged pores, smoothed or fine lines and wrinkles, stretch marks or for someone who just wants their face, hands, back, and arms exfoliated. Microdermabrasion reduces small areas of early sun damage, and mild, shallow acne marks. In fact, over time, microdermabrasion may actually decrease hyperpigmentation or deeper blemishes, as well.

Furthermore, due to the fact that the stratum corneum is gone, the epidermis is more likely to absorb a greater amount of medicinal creams and lotions. This is beneficial due to the inability of these creams and lotions to penetrate the stratum corneum pre-treatment. As a firm reminder, after you have had microdermabrasion, always apply a moisturizing cream, especially with a minimum of 30 SPF for protection against the damaging rays of the sun, at least seven days.

How does it work?

Post TreatmentMicrodermabrasion treatments are essentially a shortcut to rejuvenating the skin on your face, hands and arms, chest or back. No surgery or anesthesia is involved, and therefore it decreases the risk of danger to your health immensely. There are two different types of microdermabrasion: one is a device that you hold, and the other is a device that has a diamond tipped wand.

In most instances, the microdermabrasion device contains a pump, connecting tube, you even a vacuum, and something to hold the device when working with it.

There are four types of crystals that are known to be used with microdermabrasion systems: aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide, sodium chloride, and sodium bicarbonate. When the microdermabrasion device is turned on, the pump contained within the system creates a high pressure stream of one of these types of crystals in order to provide a mild abrasion to the skin. This abrasion causes the exfoliation, and the vacuum within the device removes any of the excess debris or the dead skin cells. The largest concern with using this type of device is that if any of the crystals become embedded in the eye.

Consequently the other type of device that is used as a microdermabrasion is the diamond microdermabrasion. The diamond microdermabrasion unit is much safer to use, and the tip of the diamond is rough and then causes the same abrasive maneuvers that the crystals do without the possible and dangerous consequence of having one of the crystals projected into the eye or inhaled nasally or orally. The device is slowly maneuvered over a portion of the face or the skin, and the more frequently the device has moved over a particular area, the deeper the microdermabrasion treatment.

It is important to remember that neither the microdermabrasion device nor in the diamond microdermabrasion device is a laser. The procedure is performed in a clean environment with sterile, or disposable equipment.

Should I tell my doctor?

Process TreatmentWith any type of medical procedure, it is wise to ask your physician about the use of the equipment involved and if you are on certain medications or have certain conditions. For example, if you have herpes simplex 1 of the lips or lupus, or are taking Coumadin, which is a blood thinner.

The microdermabrasion device is no different than any other medical procedure that you are undergoing, and your physician should be informed. While the device and the process of microdermabrasion are known to be painless, with the worse and unlikely side effects being a piece of crystal inhaled or embedded in your eye, especially if one does not close their eyes, your doctor should still be aware of your intentions because he or she knows your medical history.

The microdermabrasion device is highly effective at exfoliating and rejuvenating the skin on your face. However, it is important that you understand that it is not a miracle worker and has limitations. For example, microdermabrasion can help those with ongoing acne, mild acne discoloration, mild pock marks, and those with very superficial skin discolorations. Individuals with deep acne scars and pock marks are less likely to see any benefit from this treatment.

The ideal candidates for microdermabrasion are those men and women who are in good health, have good skin tone, and have appropriate expectations of the microdermabrasion results. The best skin type that reacts to microdermabrasion are those people with oily skin or who are acne-prone and have not shown relieve with normal acne remedies. Microdermabrasion can be performed on all skin colors and all types of skin.

Are there side effects?

While microdermabrasion is considered painless and is becoming more and more popular, there are still some common side effects to be aware of and these include the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Tightness of the skin
  • Potential bruising
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Abrasions
  • Small areas of bleeding
  • Eye or skin bruising
  • Reoccurrence of herpes simplex 1 or cold sores around the lips

A significant warning post-treatment is that you must stay out of the sun for at least seven days and wear a minimal 30 SPF. You are also advised to immediately put on facial cream after you receive a microdermabrasion in order to rehydrate your skin. Moreover, to prevent eye damage, bring with you eye protection, such as eye pads. The desired effect you want after the microdermabrasion is some mildly pink skin, which usually reverts back to its original condition within a few hours.

Furthermore, some patients say they feel as if they have had a mild sunburn for several days. Once again, it is imperative that you stay out of the sun for at least seven days, wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, and ensure that you moisturize your face several times a day after the microdermabrasion procedure. Even a professional performing microdermabrasion on a client can discolor the skin if the device is not used properly, as well as cause bruising. The vacuum must be held with even tension, or it may cause blemishes. Most susceptible to bruising is the lip area and you never, ever, want to have microdermabrasion done on your eyelids.

What conditions should not be treated?

  • Recent herpes simplex Type 1 or cold sore breakouts
  • Lesions that it not been diagnosed yet
  • Warts
  • Actively weeping acne
  • Rosacea that is active
  • Diabetes, types 1 and 2, that is unstable
  • Those with autoimmune disorders

What is the post-care treatment plan?

  • Avoid direct sunlight for seven days post microdermabrasion treatment
  • Do not go swimming the day of your treatment
  • Avoid any strenuous activities the day of and following your treatment
  • Do not use any type of skin exfoliation for three days before a treatment and two to three days after treatment
  • If at all possible, avoid wearing full facial make-up

Who uses it?

It is not just a treatment for the celebrities anymore, due to its affordability to the “everyday” person. Compared to dermabrasion, which requires anesthetic and sterile procedures, microdermabrasion is a less complicated treatment which is now affordable for almost everyone.

This popularity is because microdermabrasion is affordable by the ordinary person, and you can perform the procedure with a microdermabrasion device, or even by strictly using ingredients found among your kitchen. It’s being promoted as an “instant facelift,” but this device does a lot more than that for a great number of people

In need of some FYIs?

Almost any man or woman can receive a microdermabrasion, and they may feel or see the difference from the very first treatment, or after two or three treatments at most. The skin rejuvenates every 30 days; consequently a microdermabrasion should be repeated every two to four weeks, with significant improvements noticed after six to 12 treatments. Microdermabrasion may be performed on a weekly basis for roughly three to four weeks, and then on a monthly basis. The cost of microdermabrasion treatment varies from $100 to $200 per treatment at a salon or spa, and it is not covered by insurance unless deemed medically necessary.

In the long run, it would seem appropriate to purchase a microdermabrasion device for your personal use or an at home microdermabrasion kit skin care product that serve as the microdermabrasion, minus the vacuum. The potential problem of repeatedly buying the skin care products is that they get costly after a while, whereas if you buy a microdermabrasion device from such places as Hammacher & Schlemmer, at $299.00 (with a lifetime warranty and diamond wand), Nordstrom’s Personal Microderm Device for $179.00 (uses crystals), or Olay Pro-X Microdermabrasion Plus Advanced Cleansing System for $42.99, these devices may save you money in the long run. If you are going to spend the money on a microdermabrasion device, be certain that it is a good one and that you have done your research on the device. Remember that this is a device that you will be using on your face.

Great at home products? Try to exfoliate with a pumice stone, loofah sponge, or use a mix of brown sugar and honey rub or an Epson salt scrub. Whatever method it is that you choose, always remember safety first. Be careful maneuvering around your eyes, your nostrils, and your lips, and gently scrub your face or body part using care not to overdo. Here’s to a more beautiful you (on the outside), with radiant skin!