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Microdermabrasion before and after: What to expect from this procedure

Fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, uneven skin, or sun damage discoloration - all these can be very unpleasant and difficult to hide in the long run. Constantly covering with make-up is also not a satisfactory solution for most of those affected. As a result, the skin may become even more irritated due to daily product coverage.

Turning to cosmetic procedures may be the only way to combat these imperfections, and, fortunately, there is a non-invasive method designed to exfoliate your skin gently, aiming to reduce all these imperfections while giving your face a smoother, healthier glow.

What is microdermabrasion?

In simple terms, this procedure is designed to remove the oldest, damaged layers of skin to promote new, healthier skin regeneration. Many patients choose to have this treatment for medically indicated reasons such as acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Some patients seek microdermabrasion treatments without having noticeable imperfections, resorting to these procedures for the simple fact that it makes their skin look refreshed and healthy due to the production of new collagen and elastin.

The term 'microdermabrasion' describes a form of mechanical peeling in which the upper layer of the skin is removed in a controlled manner. For this gentle form of abrasion, VIVAA specialists use a diamond-tipped wand to remove the dead skin layer. The 'diamond method' has less common side effects due to its capacity to remove more dead cells from the skin's epidermis with less pressure than its counterparts that use aluminum oxide crystals.

The device works without chemical agents solely through mechanical action. Because only the top layer of skin is treated during this treatment, there are minimal risks of injury to the surrounding tissue.

Microdermabrasion before and after: procedure explained

Before starting the procedure, the skin's current condition is analyzed and, if necessary, recorded photographically. The treatment itself begins with a thorough skin cleansing. For this, the esthetician will use specific products that degrease the skin and support the peeling effect. The next step is selecting the right diamond attachment and beginning the actual microdermabrasion procedure.

The specialist will use the brush-like tip covered with tiny diamond particles over the skin to loosen the upper skin cells and sucks them off with a vacuum pump. After the treatment, the skin will be professionally cleaned once again, applying the proper after-treatment products. Thanks to microdermabrasion effects, the skin will now better absorb the active ingredients it contains.

Ultimately, the esthetician will recommend an appropriate skincare routine and inform you on what behavior to adopt in the days following treatment.

In general, patients can feel comfortable socially immediately after their microdermabrasion treatment. However, slight scales or, very rarely, crusts may appear in the days following treatment. In addition, the skin may be slightly reddened right after the session. With proper follow-up care, those side effects will not last very long.

What makes microdermabrasion unique?

A variety of techniques are used in cosmetic skin treatment. Basically, most of these procedures aim to remove dead skin particles or unevenness and refine the pores. The different peeling methods vary, for example, in the fineness and depth of the removal, the extent of skin irritation, and the use of chemicals and other active ingredients.

In contrast to many manual peeling methods, microdermabrasion is a particularly gentle, skin-friendly, and sterile treatment. The skin is not treated with chemical additives but rather polished through the action of tiny diamond particles using a special device. In addition, the excess skin flakes are directly absorbed using a vacuum.

In this way, the esthetician can ensure those skin impurities, dirt, and pollutants are completely removed without leaving any residue. With different settings and a variable number of grinding levels, the treatment can be adapted to the needs of each patient.

The effectiveness of microdermabrasion has been studied extensively in clinical trials, and it is a safe treatment option for the removal of dead skin cells.  It has been found that microdermabrasion can remove up to 40% of the top layer of dead skin cells after only one treatment - which is more than twice as effective as most other professional treatments available on the market today.

In addition to this increased effectiveness over similar types of treatments, microdermabrasion offers several additional benefits that can't be experienced with other abrasion-based treatments:

✔ It works by removing the outermost layers of skin without using harsh abrasives, such as those found in some chemical peels or dermabrasion procedures.

✔ Effective for both lightening the skin complexion and diminishing acne scars - unlike many other types of peels which can cause irritation and further breakouts.

✔ Promotes absorption of topical skincare products due to increased cellular turnover.

For these reasons, microdermabrasion is an excellent choice for those who want to rejuvenate their complexion quickly and effectively. It is also a great treatment option for sensitive skin that does not tolerate chemical peels well.

Microdermabrasion vs dermabrasion

The truth is that microdermabrasion is quite similar to dermabrasion, which is why the two are often confused by patients. Although both are exfoliation methods, the difference lies in how they work and the amount of downtime you will experience while receiving each treatment.

Microdermabrasion is one type of non-invasive cosmetic treatment that uses a limited, controlled form of abrasion to eliminate impurities from the skin's surface. In contrast, dermabrasion is a more aggressive method, which uses mechanical or chemical means to strip away the outermost layers of skin and often requires stitches and may come with side effects like scarring and infection. The two procedures also differ by how deep into the skin they go; microdermabrasion only buffs away the epidermis while dermabrasion penetrates as far as the dermis.

While both procedures have some risks associated with them, microdermabrasion has proven to be much safer for all skin types, especially sensitive (skin), due to the fact that it does not exacerbate the skin conditions or cause scarring.

Which body areas and problems can be treated?

Microdermabrasion works on two different levels. On the one hand, it removes the dead cells layer along with all impurities accumulated there. On the other hand, it has a regenerating, rejuvenating, and firming effect on the skin's cell structure. That means it can be used to treat superficial skin imperfections as well as a natural anti-aging method.

Microdermabrasion is suited for the following skin problems:

  • Acne scars
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Enlarged pores
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Age spots and blackspots
  • Pigment spots caused by sun damage
  • Melasma
  • Tired looking skin

The microdermabrasion technique is suitable for the entire body, but it is often done on the face, chest, and decollete area. It can also effectively treat other skin conditions like stretch marks or subtle scars, or hyperpigmentation.

Microdermabrasion pros and cons

Microdermabrasion stimulates the skin to produce more young and active cells. With regular use, the skin gains density and structure. It has been proven that active ingredients in skincare products can be absorbed better following this treatment.

The main advantages of microdermabrasion:

  • Suitable for almost all skin types
  • Removes dead cells to aid in cellular turnover
  • It is a gentle and safe process
  • It is a procedure of minimum difficulty
  • Minimal downtime required
  • The upper skin layer is removed in a controlled and targeted manner.
  • The device can be adapted to each skin type.
  • The skin better absorbs skincare products after the treatment.
  • It makes other anti-aging treatments more effective by increasing absorption through microperforations/microscopic holes left behind.
  • It helps achieve the glow effect.

For the most part, microdermabrasion's unique ability to safely remove the outermost layer of the skin, combined with its minimal downtime, makes it an ideal option for many individuals looking to improve their skin appearance.

Risks and side effects

Some minor side effects that you might experience during or after the treatment include redness, itching, tingling, discomfort, and a burning sensation.  Sunscreen should always be worn afterward to prevent hypersensitivity to sunlight.

Additionally, small amounts of bleeding may occur if you have especially fragile skin around your eyes or mouth - these areas would probably need a numbing cream beforehand. However, most patients can return to their regular activities immediately after treatment.

Keep in mind that if the treatment is performed incorrectly, it can cause dry, flaky, and itchy skin or even permanent damage to your skin.

Microdermabrasion can result in irritation to your eyes if they come into contact with any micro-particles during treatment, which is why goggles are worn at all times. If you have had a facial extraction or laser peel on the area being treated, you should wait until all healing occurs before considering microdermabrasion.

What does it feel like?

The treatment is not painful, but it does take some getting used to. In general, patients perceive the treatment differently during microdermabrasion. That’s because every skin type as well as the sensitivity of each person differ.

Some patients describe it as similar to having their face 'sandblasted' without all the pain and peeling that comes with traditional sandblasting. For others, the treatment feels like a cat's tongue and can be unpleasant (it may tickle), and some say it feels like tiny rubber bands snapping against their faces. However, the feeling is most tolerable and not too uncomfortable at all.

Who is a good candidate?

Microdermabrasion is suitable for all skin types. Typically, teens over the age of 12 and adults through age 65 can undergo this procedure. Senior citizens over the age of 70 can still undergo the procedure, but they should be advised that they may experience more swelling, bruising, and similar side effects.

People who should not have this treatment include those who have had microdermabrasion completed within the past two weeks, anyone with dry skin or very delicate skin, people who have active colds or infections on their face, and pregnant women.

Treatment should also be avoided, for example, in the case of fresh acne scars, wounds, warts, an auto-immune system disorder, or unstable diabetes, or inflammations. Patients with active herpes must temporarily forgo this treatment. Patients should also refrain from waxing or tanning the skin for several weeks before treatment.

The best way to find out if you're a good candidate for microdermabrasion is to come in for a consultation with one of our specialists. At that time we can advise you about any associated risks. Generally speaking, though, this treatment is quite safe.

Some of the things you should not do:

  • Do not apply: AHAs (glycolic acid or lactic acid) Retinoids (retinoic acid, tretinoin) Any oil-containing product AHA/BHA acne treatments oyl peroxide Salicylic acid Benzoyl peroxide.
  • Do not use: Any exfoliating product within 24 hours of a microdermabrasion treatment or any other topical product for a minimum of 24 hours after your microdermabrasion treatment.

Avoid makeup, including mineral makeup, for 24 hours after microdermabrasion because it contains irritating ingredients such as bismuth oxychloride. Your skin may be too sensitive to those ingredients.

If you are currently on Accutane or have taken it within the last 12 months, microdermabrasion may not be appropriate due to the potential scarring. However, as the potential scarring risk is light, VIVAA specialists may treat you with gentler sessions.

Correct behavior after the treatment

Despite the very little downtime after the treatment, your skin needs up to 3 days to fully rebuild its own protective ability. This structure of the so-called lipid protective coat can be optimized by minimizing disruptive influences and stimuli.

The absolute rule you must follow is to protect yourself from the sun. It is crucial to use good sunscreen that also has nourishing properties. We recommend using the SPF-50 sunscreen with UVA and UVB filters.

Avoid the following influencing factors in the next few days:

  • Sun exposure
  • Self-tanner
  • Visits to the sauna or steam bath
  • Heavy sweating
  • Other scrubs and home peelings
  • Seawater
  • Chlorinated water (swimming pool)
  • Hair removal (including dermaplaning)
  • Working in a dirty environment

Until your skin heals, avoid using any products with microbeads, crushed fruit pits, and apricot kernels for polishing or scrubbing because these types of ingredients can damage your new skin cells.

Avoid retinoids and AHAs. Do not use benzoyl peroxide, sodium sulfacetamide-based cleaners, trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peels or topical vitamin A creams such as tretinoin (Retin–A), Adapalene (Differin) or Tazarotene (Tazor). These products may cause irritation. You can still use low-strength glycolic acid, but it is advisable to ask your doctor first.

Don't use any creams or lotions until your skin has healed. If you have oily skin, avoid moisturizers because they will make your face appear greasier than usual. It's best to keep your face clean and dry, so it doesn't become irritated by excess oil or bacteria in moisturizers.

When you do apply moisturizer, select a light product that contains ceramides, cholesterol or hyaluronic acid instead of the heavier petrolatum-based ointments that may clog pores. You can also try using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to ease irritation.


When are the first microdermabrasion results visible?

The tightening effect can usually be felt immediately after  microdermabrasion. However, the first visible results can be seen a few days after the treatment. In some cases, several treatments are required before the complexion visibly improves.

How many treatments do I need? 

Superficial irregularities can be permanently removed with the help of microdermabrasion. For optimal results and long-term effects, the microdermabrasion must be done several times. The number of treatments required depends on the type and severity of the skin damage.

What can I expect after microdermabrasion? 

Typically a gel or cream will be applied to the skin following the treatment, but this is a totally optional step, and you are welcome to apply your own moisturizer if you wish. After treatment, expect your skin to feel dry, tight, and sensitive – this should only last a few hours.

What is the downtime after microdermabrasion? 

There is zero to minimal downtime following this procedure, depending on each patient. In general, it's safe for you to return to all daily activities, including work and exercise, post-treatment. You may notice skin that has become dry and flaky in the days/weeks after treatment, so you should moisturize regularly, as the doctor recommends.

What products to avoid after this procedure? 

After 24 hours, you can resume the use of any topical products that do not contain glycolic acid or lactic acid, retinoic acid (Retin A), salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, BHA (beta hydroxy acid), or AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids). If in doubt about whether a product will interfere with your microdermabrasion treatment, ask your VIVAA specialist before using it.


Dr. Sidhu
Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

Author - Dr. Ramandeep Sidhu

SPECIALTIES: Percutaneous aneurysm repair, endovascular treatment of peripheral arterial disease, treatment for varicose veins, open vascular surgical procedures, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism treatment and aesthetic services.


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