Dermabrasion is a technique that uses a wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges (called a burr or fraise) to remove the upper layers of the skin. The brush or burr rotates rapidly, taking off and leveling (abrading or planning) the top layers of the skin. This process injures or wounds the skin and causes it to bleed. As the wound heals, new skin grows to replace the damaged skin that was removed during dermabrasion.
Things that affect the depth of the resurfacing include how coarse the burr or brush is, how quickly it rotates, how much pressure is applied and for how long, and the condition and features of your skin. The face is the most common site for treatment, but other areas of the skin can be treated this way. Dermabrasion is used most often to improve the appearance of acne scars and fine lines around the mouth. It also may be used to treat an enlarged nose (rhinophyma ) caused by rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition.
How it is done
The areas to be treated are cleaned and marked. A local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) is usually used to numb the skin before treatment, and ice packs are applied to the skin for up to 30 minutes. A freezing (cryogenic) spray may sometimes be used to harden the skin for deeper abrasions if the anaesthetic and ice packs do not make the skin firm enough. For deep abrasions, or if the entire face is going to be treated, you may need stronger anaesthesia, pain killers, sedation, or general anaesthesia.
One small area at a time is treated. The freezing spray (if needed) is applied for a few seconds and then the rotating burr or brush is used to take off the top layers of skin. Gauze is used to stop any bleeding, and the area is covered with a clean dressing or ointment. Dermabrasion is almost always done in your doctors office or on an outpatient basis.
What To Expect After Surgery
Your recovery and healing time after dermabrasion depends on the size and depth of the area that was treated. Someone who has a full-face dermabrasion, for example, will have a longer recovery time than someone who has just a small area of skin treated. Deeper abrasions take longer to heal. In general, regrowth of skin occurs in 5 to 8 days. This new skin is a pink or red color, which usually fades in 6 to 12 weeks. Until then, your normal skin tones can be achieved using makeup. Many people have little or no pain and can get back to their regular activities soon after the procedure. Some people need pain relievers. If swelling occurs, a corticosteroid such as prednisone may be used to reduce the swelling.
Proper care of the treated area while the skin is healing is extremely important. This involves: Cleansing the skin several times a day to avoid infection and to get rid of the crusting that sometimes occurs. Changing the ointment or dressing on the wound to keep the area moist and to promote healing. Avoiding sun exposure and, after peeling has stopped, using sunscreen every day. New skin is more susceptible to sun damage. You may be given an antiviral drug called acyclovir to prevent infection if you have a history of infection with the herpes simplex virus. Several follow-up visits to your doctor may be needed to monitor the skins healing and regrowth and to identify and treat early signs of infection or other complications.