What it is:
Microdermabrasion (also known as particle resurfacing and by other names, including Power Peels, Derma Peels and Parisian Peels) is a relatively new skin polishing technique, performed both by aestheticians in spas and salons as well as by technicians in dermatologists' and plastic surgeons' offices. The operator uses a handheld device that blasts fine particles of sand like crystals (aluminum oxide or table salt) against the client's skin and vacuums away the used crystals, dirt and dead surface skin. Microdermabrasion is also called a "lunchtime peel," because it takes only 20 to 30 minutes for a full-face treatment. (The procedure also can be used on the neck and chest.) The patient can then return to work with only mild skin redness, which can be covered up right away with makeup. The redness will fade on its own after an hour or two. This procedure is not painful (patients feel a slight tingling as it is being done), requires no anesthesia and will not adversely lighten or darken African American skin, as some exfoliating treatments do. The treatment leaves the skin with a healthy glow. To achieve optimal benefits, five to 10 treatments, every seven to 10 days, are needed; most patients see improvement after the fourth or fifth session. After the initial series, periodic maintenance treatments (from once a month to once every three months, as needed) are often recommended.
$75 to $200 per treatment. Some places offer package deals, offering patients one free treatment if they sign up for a package offer.
Smoothing away roughness and fine lines, improving leathery, sun-damaged skin and irregular, blotchy pigmentation and minimizing broken capillaries and age spots; also effective for cleaning out blackheads and whiteheads. Along with other doctors, David H. McDaniel, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Virginia Beach, Va., has found that with repeated microdermabrasion treatments,collage nproduction below the skin's surface is increased.
Microdermabrasion exfoliates skin faster and more efficiently than any salon facial or products used at home, and penetrates the skin more deeply than a glycolic acid peel. But it is still a superficial approach to skin resurfacing and, according to Michael S. Bumagin, M.D., a Fort Worth plastic surgeon, has to be repeated periodically. It won't help prominent acne scars, including "icepick" scars, other deep facial indentations, severe wrinkles around the mouth or furrows in the forehead; even fine wrinkles and scars may not disappear completely. "Nor is microdermabrasion indicated to erase crow's feet," cautions Dr. Bumagin, "because the crystals can cause eye irritation if blasted too close to the eyes and delicate eyelid skin can be damaged by the machine's suction."