Microdermabrasion: Benefits and What to Expect

While there are plenty of products you can incorporate into your skincare routine to get the smoothest skin possible, sometimes it takes a more powerful tool to rejuvenate it. That's when we turn to microdermabrasion.

This in-office treatment does involve some poking and prodding of the skin, but the benefits of microdermabrasion make it worth it in the end. We asked dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman; New York University Langone Medical Center dermatologist Arielle Nagler; and McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center dermatologist Lily Talakoub to break down everything from what the procedure is like to who should be getting it. Scroll down to see what they had to say.

What is it?

Nagler defines microdermabrasion as, "a minimally invasive procedure that uses a slightly abrasive instrument to gently exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells at the surface."

Engelman explains that you use some sort of mechanical exfoliation that vacuums dead skin and impurities. "If you take the word apart, micro means small; derm is short for dermis and means skin; and abrasion means the process of scraping away," she says. "So if you put it together, it literally means the process in which you use instruments to create microscopic abrasions in the skin to remove the thicker top layer of the skin."

5 Benefits of Microdermabrasion
Michela Buttignol/Byrdie

How does it work?

The procedure itself is pretty simple. "First the skin is cleansed. The machine uses a gentle vaccine pressure to spray crystals along the skin, and through gentle horizontal and vertical swipes of the handpiece, the crystals rub on the epidermal layer of the skin, exfoliating the dead skin cells off. The crystals are then gently wiped off the face with a brush or warm towel," says Talakoub.

Nagler also says most microdermabrasion devices use crystals or diamonds to remove dead skin, while others use a vacuum to suction it out.

It's also a pricey procedure. Talakoub says it can cost anywhere from $150 to $250 per session, depending on if it is combined with a peel, soaks, or treatment afterward. Engelman herself charges $200 for microdermabrasion sessions.

"It has the benefit of limited downtime and risk," Nagler says. "It can help brighten your skin temporarily. It may also improve dark spots and fine lines. It's important to know that the results are very subtle and often require multiple or adjunctive treatments," says Nagler.

"Any skin type can benefit from microdermabrasion. For people who are acne-prone, microdermabrasion can be used in combination with peels and medical extractions. Once that has been treated, they can go on to use retinoids like Differin Gel," says Engelman.



According to both Nagler and Talakoub, the benefits of microdermabrasion include the following:

1. Smoothness.

2. Brighter complexion.

3. Reduced appearance of fine lines.

4. Evened out skin tone.

5. Reduced appearance of dark spots.

6. Cleaned-out pores.

Side effects

According to our experts, one of the best parts of microdermabrasion is that side effects are minimal. Both Engelman and Nagler say that most people will experience short-term redness that will improve within just a couple of hours. If your physician happens to go to deep into the skin during treatment, Engelman says you may experience some burning or stinging, but that is only temporary.

Talakoub says to avoid using retinoids, acids, or peels in conjunction with a microdermabrasion treatment, as it will cause redness. "It should be done with gentle force, never on dry, thin, or sensitive skin," she says.

Engelman agrees and recommends that patients stop the use of any retinoid treatments two weeks before and after treatment. She also advises that you tell your physician if you have cold sore breakouts or if you tend to scar easily as a precautionary step.

Now that you have everything you need to know about microdermabrasion, if you can save up for it, we highly recommend it.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Karimipour DJ, Karimipour G, Orringer JS. Microdermabrasion: an evidence-based reviewPlast Reconstr Surg. 2010;125(1):372-377. doi:10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181c2a583

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