Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance. Dermabrasion and dermaplaning left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles, such as those around the mouth. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is commonly used to treat deep acne scars.
Please ask Dr. Monteiro about anything you don’t understand in the information contained below.
If you are considering skin resurfacing
If you’re considering surgery to refinish the skin, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances.
Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as a facelift, eyelid surgery, light scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.
Considering alternative procedures
If you’re planning “surface repairs” on your face, you may also be considering chemical peel, an alternative method of surgically removing the top layer of skin. However, dermabrasion and dermaplaning use surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses a caustic solution.
Dr. Monteiro performs all three procedures, selecting one or a combination of procedures to suit the individual patient and the problem. In general, chemical peel is used more often to treat fine wrinkles, and dermabrasion and dermaplaning for deeper imperfections such as acne scars. A non-chemical approach may also be preferred for individuals with slightly darker skin, especially when treating limited areas of the face, since dermabrasion and dermaplaning are less likely to produce extreme changes and contrasts in skin color. If you’d like more information on chemical peel, click on the link at left to go to that section of our website on that topic.
The best candidates for skin resurfacing
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-refinishing treatment, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Monteiro.
Before the procedure:
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk.
Men and women of all ages, from young people to older adults, can benefit from dermabrasion and dermaplaning. Although older people heal more slowly, more important factors are your skin type, coloring, and medical history. For example, black skin, Asian skin, and other dark complexions may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin-refinishing treatment. People who develop allergic rashes or other skin reactions, or who get frequent fever blisters or cold sores, may experience a flare-up. If you have freckles, they may disappear in the treated area.
In addition, most surgeons won’t perform treatment during the active stages of acne because of a greater risk of infection. The same may be true if you’ve had radiation treatments, a bad skin burn, or a previous chemical peel.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning are normally safe when they’re performed by a qualified, experienced board-certified physician. The most common risk is a change in skin pigmentation. Permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by exposure to the sun in the days or months following surgery, may occur in some patients. On the other hand, some patients find the treated skin remains a little lighter or blotchy in appearance.
You may develop tiny whiteheads after surgery.These usually disappear on their own, or with the use of an abrasive pad or soap; occasionally, the surgeon may have to remove them. You may also develop enlarged skin pores; these usually shrink to near normal size once the swelling has subsided.
While infection and scarring are rare with skin-refinishing treatments, they are possible.Some individuals develop excessive scar tissue (keloid or hypertrophic scars); these are usually treated with the application or injection of steroid medications to soften the scar.
Planning your surgery
Preparing for your surgery.
Dr. Monteirowill give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, and on avoiding aspirin and other medications that affect blood clotting. You may also be given special instructions regarding the care and treatment of your skin prior to surgery. If you smoke, you’ll probably be asked to stop for a week or two before and after surgery, since smoking decreases blood circulation in the skin and impedes healing.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two if needed.
Where your surgery will be performed?
Your treatment may be performed in the doctor’s office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It’s usually done on an outpatient basis, for cost containment and convenience. However, if you’re undergoing extensive work, you may be admitted to the hospital.
Types of Anesthesia
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed fairly quickly. The procedures usually take from a few minutes to an hour and a half, depending on how large an area of skin is involved. It’s not uncommon for the procedure to be performed more than once, or in stages, especially when scarring is deep or a large area of skin is involved.
1. In dermabrasion, the surgeon scrapes away the top layers of skin using an electrically operated instrument with a rough wire brush or diamond-impregnated burr, attached to a motorized handle. The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible.
2. This cross section shows how dermabrasion smooths irregularities in the outermost layer of skin.
3. In dermaplaning, the surgeon uses a hand-held instrument called a dermatome. Resembling an electric razor, the dermatome has an oscillating blade that moves back and forth to evenly “skim” off the surface layers of skin that surround the craters or other facial defects. This skimming continues until the lowest point of the acne scar becomes more even with the surrounding skin.
After your surgery.
Getting back to normal
Your new skin will be a bit swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks. During this time, you can begin gradually resuming your normal activities.
You can expect to be back at work in about two weeks. Your surgeon will probably advise your to avoid any activity that could cause a bump to your face for at least two weeks. More active sports-especially ball sports-should be avoided for four to six weeks. If you swim, stick to indoor pools to avoid sun and wind, and keep your face out of chlorinated water for at least four weeks. It will be at least three to four weeks before you can drink alcohol without experiencing a flush of redness.
Above all, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun until the pigment has completely returned to your skin – as long as six to twelve months.