Back to Document

Dermabrasion/Dermaplaning

What is dermabrasion?

Similar to a chemical peel, dermabrasion is a procedure that removes fine wrinkles and/or minimizes scars on the skin. The difference between a chemical peel and dermabrasion, however, is the method used. Dermabrasion involves the surgeon using a high speed rotating brush to remove the top layer of skin. The size and depth of the scars, as well as the degree of wrinkling, determine the appropriate level of skin that will be surgically sloughed.

Possible complications associated with dermabrasion

Possible complications associated with dermabrasion may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fever blisters. Dermabrasion can cause fever blisters to reappear in those who are prone to frequent herpes simplex infections. Antiviral medications are often used to treat this symptom.

  • Pigmentation changes. Some individuals may develop a change in the pigmentation of their skin after undergoing the procedure. Treatment for this symptom may include the use of bleaching creams, as prescribed by a doctor. A decrease in pigmentation can be permanent.

  • Thickened skin. Thickening of the skin can develop. This symptom may be treated with cortisone creams or injections which help the skin return to its normal state.

What is dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning is used to treat deep acne scars with a hand-held instrument called a dermatome. The dermatome resembles an electric razor and 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.

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. Neither treatment, however, will remove all scars and flaws, or prevent aging.

Who can benefit from dermabrasion or dermaplaning?

Men and women of all ages can benefit from dermabrasion and dermaplaning. Important factors that help to determine the effectiveness of both treatments include the following:

  • Skin type

  • Skin coloring

  • Medical history

About the procedure

Although each procedure varies, dermabrasion and dermaplaning surgeries generally cover the following considerations:

  • Location options may include:

    • Surgeon's office-based surgical facility

    • Outpatient surgery center

    • Hospital outpatient

    • Hospital inpatient

  • Anesthetic options may include:

    • Local anesthesia, combined with a sedative (allows the patient to remain awake but relaxed)

    • A numbing spray may be used along with or instead of local anesthesia

    • General anesthesia

  • Average length of procedure:

    • From a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area of skin to be refinished. The procedure may be performed more than once, or in stages.

  • Some possible short-term side effects of surgery:

    • The skin may be red and swollen.

    • Eating and talking may be difficult for a few days following the procedure.

    • Tingling, burning, or aching may occur.

    • Swelling and scabbing may occur.

    As the new skin begins to grow, it may appear and feel swollen. The skin may also be sensitive and bright pink in color, which may take about three months to fade. Protection from the sun is very important following this type of procedure.