What is Dermabrasion?
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to "refinish" the skin's top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.
Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles. It's also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is also commonly used to treat deep acne scars.
Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal/revision or chemical peel.
If you're considering surgery to refinish the skin, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it's performed and what results you can expect. It cannot, however, answer all of your questions, as much depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask your doctor about anything you do not understand.
The cost of dermabrasion treatment can vary. The average cost of dermabrasion is AU$1,000.
Be sure to ask your surgeon about all costs involved in your dermabrasion treatment. Many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Best candidates for dermabrasion
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-refinishing treatment, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
Men and women of all ages, from young people to older adults, can benefit from dermabrasion and dermaplaning. Although older people heal more slowly, more important factors are your skin type, coloring and medical history. For example, black skin, Asian skin and other dark complexions may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin-refinishing treatment. People who develop allergic rashes or other skin reactions, or who get frequent fever blisters or cold sores, may experience a flare-up. If you have freckles, they may disappear in the treated area.
In addition, most surgeons won't perform treatment during the active stages of acne because of a greater risk of infection. The same may be true if you've had radiation treatments, a bad skin burn or a previous chemical peel.
Considering alternative procedures
If you're planning "surface repairs" on your face, you may also be considering chemical peel, an alternative method of surgically removing the top layer of skin. However, dermabrasion and dermaplaning use surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses a caustic solution.
Many plastic surgeons perform all three procedures, selecting one or a combination of procedures to suit the individual patient and the problem. Others prefer one technique for all surface repairs. In general, chemical peel is used more often to treat fine wrinkles, and dermabrasion and dermaplaning for deeper imperfections such as acne scars. A non-chemical approach may also be preferred for individuals with slightly darker skin, especially when treating limited areas of the face, since dermabrasion and dermaplaning are less likely to produce extreme changes and contrasts in skin color.
Also see information on microdermabrasion, a less invasive form of dermabrasion.
After your surgery
Directly after the procedure, your skin will be fairly red and swollen, and eating and speaking may be difficult. You'll probably feel some tingling, burning or aching; any pain you feel can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon. The swelling will begin to subside within a few days to a week.
If you remember the scrapes you got when you fell down as a child, you'll have an idea of what to expect from this type of surgery. A scab or crust will form over the treated area as it begins to heal. This will fall off as a new layer of tight, pink skin forms underneath. Your face may itch as new skin starts to grow, and your surgeon may recommend an ointment to make you more comfortable. If ointment is applied immediately after surgery, little or no scab will form.
In any case, you surgeon will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your skin after surgery. For men, this will include delaying shaving and using an electric razor your first time shaving post surgery. It's very important that you understand your doctor's instructions and follow them exactly, to ensure the best possible healing.
If you notice the treated area beginning to get worse instead of better (if it becomes increasingly red, raised and itchy after it has started to heal), it may be a sign that abnormal scars are beginning to form. Call your surgeon as soon as possible, so that treatment can begin early.
Getting back to normal
Your new skin will be a bit swollen, sensitive and bright pink for several weeks. During this time, you can gradually begin to resume your normal activities.
You can expect to be back at work in about two weeks. Your surgeon will probably advise you to avoid any activity that could cause a bump to your face for at least two weeks. More active sports (especially those involving a ball) should be avoided for four to six weeks. If you swim, stick to indoor pools to avoid sun and wind, and keep your face out of chlorinated water for at least four weeks. It will be at least three to four weeks before you can drink alcohol without experiencing a flush of redness.
Above all, it's important to protect your skin from the sun until the pigment has completely returned to your skin- as long as six to twelve months.
Your new look
Refinishing treatments can offer dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results.
The pinkness of your skin will take about three months to fade. In the meantime, you'll probably want to wear nonallergenic makeup when you go out (for tips on hiding your condition while it heals) When your new skin is fully repigmented, the color should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.