Microdermabrasion is essentially a more intense physical exfoliation. It is a mechanical exfoliation that causes a light resurfacing of the skin. If your skin tends to look dull or the texture a little bumpy, then a trip to a clinic for a course of microdermabrasion will leave your complexion soft and glowing in no time.
If your complexion is really suffering, then you can book microdermabrasion as a quick and effective standalone treatment. It can also be found as the exfoliating step in many facials—a thorough bout of microdermabrasion, which essentially sandblasts your skin smooth, will clear away dead cells making way for any masks, serums or moisturizer to sink in more effectively afterward.
To get the lowdown on this souped-up exfoliating treatment, we called on Costas Papageorgiou, MD, FACS, who has been handpicked by Dr. Colbert (whose clients include Robin Wright and Jennifer Lawrence) to head up the UK outpost of his New York Dermatology Group at The Wellness Clinic in Harrods. Here's everything you need to know.
What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive exfoliating technique that aims to improve the texture and clarity of the skin by physically removing the superficial, sluggish dead cell layers, thus promoting cell regeneration.
Are There Different Types?
Yes, there is crystal microdermabrasion where cell exfoliation occurs by implementing a gentle flow of ultra-fine crystals (usually made from inert materials like aluminium oxide) targeting the face. The system also includes a vacuum that optimizes surface contact by pulling the skin closer to the crystals and simultaneously removing the used crystals from the skin (during the procedure).
Diamond microdermabrasion is where dead/dry skin cell exfoliation occurs via a wand tipped with a laser-cut diamond.
Both techniques may be equally effective and are usually recommended as a series of treatments to optimise the results. Crystal dermabrasion can be considered as "sandblasting," while the diamond can be thought of as "sandpapering."
The Benefits of Microdermabrasion
This noninvasive cosmetic procedure removes excess oil, dirt, and dead cells on the surface of the skin to reveal the younger, brighter skin cells underneath. Patients with fine facial lines or wrinkles, sun damage, uneven hyperpigmentation, clogged pores, skin texture problems, blackheads/whiteheads, superficial age spots, and minor scars can all benefit from microdermabrasion.
Is This Treatment Suitable For Everyone?
- Crystals used in microdermabrasion machines can create heat and inflammation after abrading the skin, whereas the diamond machines do not, making the diamond microdermabrasion machine a more suitable option for vascular and inflammatory conditions.
- Microdermabrasion is not recommended for inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, dilated capillaries and active acne.
- Microdermabrasion should be avoided if you have a sunburn, have used Accutane in the last year, or have active herpes lesions.
- The use of retinoids should be avoided three nights before a treatment.
- Additionally, if one has an auto-immune disorder, they should consult their dermatologist first.
Can You Do Microdermabrasion at Home?
Unfortunately, the home kit devices cannot replicate the technology of microcrystals/vacuum pressure or the high-end quality of diamond tips, elements that are critical for the delicate process of exfoliation and cell regeneration. As with any facial aesthetic intervention, a consultation with a qualified professional is critical to achieving the desired outcomes.
Does It Hurt?
Microdermabrasion is meant to be a comfortable and painless experience. By adapting the flow of microcrystalline and/or vacuum and manual pressure the procedure is versatile and adaptable to each patient's skin tolerance. There is little to no downtime
Is it a Standalone Treatment?
Although patients notice improvement as a standalone treatment, usually a course (so an induction phase followed by maintenance sessions) is recommended to optimize the outcome. In addition, microdermabrasion can be combined with other procedures, as in the NYDG Triad Facial, where it promises to facilitate the penetration of infrared laser waves targeting the deeper layers of the skin.
How Often Should You Have Microdermabrasion?
Depending on the individual needs and age of the patient, microdermabrasion can be performed on a routine basis with most patients benefiting from monthly sessions. An induction phase of three treatments in weekly intervals may optimize outcomes depending on your skin's tolerance and desired cosmetic effects.
When it comes to effective exfoliation, nothing really beats an in-spa or -clinic treatment but these face scrubs come pretty close.
La Mer The Replenishing Oil Exfoliator
The sugar crystals, sea salt, and sea kelp fibers in La Mer's scrub promise to gently flick away any lingering dead skin cells, but it's the base of buttery oils that'll add the nourishment back into the complexion.
Grown Alchemist Polishing Facial Exfoliant
This is the scrubbiest scrub you will ever use. Save this one for when things get really flaky.
L'Occitane Reine Blanche Illuminating Face Scrub
With floral extracts and gentle grains, L'Occitane's scrub will simply make skin a little more glowy each time you use it.
L'Oréal Paris Smooth Sugars Glow Scrub
This super-grainy scrub buffs away dead skin cells whilst plying the complexion with hydrating Monoi oil.
Lancer The Method: Polish
Along with physical grains, this exfoliator contains pomegranate enzymes meant to break down dead skin cell buildup.
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Loesch MM, Somani AK, Kingsley MM, Travers JB, Spandau DF. Skin resurfacing procedures: new and emerging options. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2014;7:231-241. doi:10.2147/CCID.S50367