What is dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a procedure that uses a wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges to remove and level the upper layer of skin. The treated area heals, allowing new skin to grow in its place. It often is used for facial procedures.


Is dermabrasion painful?

Dermabrasion can be uncomfortable, so local anesthetics are used to numb the skin before treatment. A freezing spray may also be used to numb and prepare the treated area. For larger treatments, such as full facials, a general anesthesia may be used. Ice packs may also be used during the procedure. After treatment most patients report little or no pain, though some require pain relievers as well as a corticosteroid for swelling.

What should first be done before considering dermabrasion?

Patients should understand that dermabrasion injures the skin and must be prepared with how they will look immediately after treatment and during the healing process. Post-procedure instructions must be carefully followed to avoid infection and ensure proper healing. It’s also important to have realistic treatment expectations. Typically a 50 percent improvement in the skin condition is considered a good result. It may take several weeks or months for full results to become apparent.

Who is not a candidate for dermabrasion?

Patients are not good candidates if they have:

  • Used isotretinoin to treat acne within the last six to 12 months.
  • Recently had a facelift or browlift.
  • A history of keloid or hypertrophic scarring.
  • An active herpes infection or other skin infection.
  • Skin that is overly sensitive to cold.
  • A skin, blood or immune disorder that could make healing more difficult.

When is dermabrasion appropriate?

Dermabrasion can be used to treat:

What can I expect after having had dermabrasion?

Patients will be required to follow a post-procedure regimen that includes:

  • Cleansing the skin several times a day to avoid infection and remove crusting.
  • Changing the ointment or dressing on the wound to keep the area moist and promote healing.
  • Avoiding sun exposure and, after healing, using a daily sunscreen.
  • Possibly taking an antiviral drug to prevent infection.
  • Several follow-up visits to monitor your skin's healing and to identify and treat early signs of infection or other complications.

What are the potential complications of dermabrasion?

  • Uneven changes in skin color.
  • Darkening of the skin, usually caused by sun exposure in the days and months following surgery.
  • Swelling.
  • Scarring.
  • Infection.