Dermabrasion for Sun-damaged Skin

Dermabrasion, sometimes known as dermaplaning, is a procedure that removes sun-damaged skin through controlled surgical scraping.

Before (left) and after (right) hydroquinone, retinol cream and microdermabrasion to treat melasma.

Photo courtesy of Pearl E. Grimes, MD - Los Angeles, California

Why choose dermabrasion for sun-damaged skin

Dermabrasion is minimally invasive. The treatment can be performed in the doctor’s office. Recovery time is minimal.

What you should know about dermabrasion for sun-damaged skin

A freezing spray is first used to numb the treatment. The doctor then removes the sun-damaged skin in the numbed area using a special brush, which allows the healthy skin beneath to replace it. The new skin typically appears smoother and refreshed. Outcomes can be dramatic and long-lasting.

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there is a risk associated with it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Scarring
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Acne flare-ups
  • Loss of skin color
  • Tissue damage caused by excessive freezing
  • Infection

What to expect after the procedure

Recovery and healing time after dermabrasion depends on the size and depth of the area treated. Patients must:

  • Cleanse the treated area several times daily to prevent infection.
  • Change ointments and dressings to promote healing.
  • Avoid exposure to the sun.

Skin regrowth occurs within five to eight days. New skin is pink or red in appearance, fading to normal skin tones in six to 12 weeks. Pain and swelling is generally minimal after the procedure, though pain killers and steroids are prescribed in some cases. Your ASDS dermatologist may schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure. A week or so before treatment, dermabrasion candidates should:

  • Stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin.
  • Stop smoking, if a smoker.
  • Avoid certain skin care products.
  • Stay out of the sun.