Dermabrasion is used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles particularly around the mouth. It is also commonly used to treat deep acne scars.

Dermabrasion can only be performed on the thicker skin around the mouth, chin and cheeks. The skin around the eyes is delicate and therefore not suitable for dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, blepharoplasty, and scar removal or revision and browlift.

Chemical peels, are alternative methods of removing and resurfacing the top layers of skin, though rarely will these treat the deeper dermis that dermabrasion targets .

Dermabrasion uses a surgical instrument to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses some type of  acid solution. Laser resurfacing uses CO2 laser to vaporize the top layers of the skin, but is used less these days due to the prohibitive costs of the laser machinery/technology.

In general, chemical peel is used to treat fine wrinkles and sun damaged skin whilst dermabrasion is used for deeper imperfections such as acne scars and deep lines around the mouth.

Dermabrasion can enhance your appearance, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent subsequent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-resurfacing treatment, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

Dermabrasion can be performed at any age, though older people heal more slowly. More important factors are your skin type, colouring, and medical history. For example, dark complexions are not suitable for dermabrasion as they may become permanently discoloured or blotchy after a skin-resurfacing treatment.

People who develop allergic rashes or other skin reactions, or who get frequent cold sores, may experience a flare-up, it is important that you tell your surgeon if you suffer any of these problems. If you have freckles, they may disappear completely 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 or a bad sun burn.

Dermabrasion treatments are normally safe when they’re performed by a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon. You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon such as Dr McGovern, and closely following his advice before and after surgery.


Because these treatments have sometimes been offered by inadequately trained practitioners, it’s especially important that you find a plastic surgeon who is trained and experienced in the procedure. After all, dermabrasion involves the most visible part of your body, the skin of your face.

In your initial consultation, be open in discussing your expectations with your surgeon, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or express any concerns you may have. He will be equally open with you, explaining the factors that could influence the procedure and its results, such as your age, skin condition, and skin colour.

Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, conduct a routine examination, and photograph your face. He will explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period, and the costs. Dermabrasion costs may be partially covered by Medicare and health insurance if it is performed to remedy scarring. Our staff can advise if your claim is Medicare eligible.

Your surgeon will 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 be asked to stop 3 weeks 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.

Your treatment will be performed in an outpatient surgery centre, or a hospital. It’s usually done as a day procedure for cost containment and convenience. However, if you’re undergoing other procedures you may require an overnight stay in hospital.

Your surgeon will perform your surgery under  general anaesthesia, for your comfort and safety.  

The procedure usually takes up to an hour, depending on how large an area of skin is involved. It’s not uncommon for the procedure to have to be performed more than once, or in stages, especially when scarring is deep or a large area of skin is involved.

In dermabrasion, your surgeon scrapes away the outermost layer of skin with a variety of high-speed diamond burrs, attached to a motorised handle. This instrument is designed solely to perform dermabrasion and is used for nothing else.

The scraping continues until the surgeon reaches the safest level that will make the scar or wrinkle less visible.  After the surgery, your surgeon will cover the treated area with an occlusive ointment, and you will be asked to keep the area dry and keep applying  the ointment to prevent the skin drying out. You will continue this until your follow up visit 6 days following surgery.

Our beauty therapists and nursing staff are all available for you post procedure and will hold your hand throughout the healing phase. As your skin changes and heals, your skin regime will be adjusted for you.


Right after the procedure, your skin will be quite red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult if your treatment was peri-oral(around the mouth). You will  feel some tingling to  burning. You will be given prescriptions for pain medications prescribed by your anaesthetist. The swelling will begin to subside in the  few days.

If you remember the scrapes you got when you fell down as a child, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from this type of surgery. Just like when you gravel-rashed your knee, you will have a raw pink area at first. Underneath the applied ointment, your new skin will grow upward from the hair follicles and sweat glands over the first 7-10 days to form your new integument.

This new layer of tight pink skin may itch as new skin starts to grow. Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions to care for your skin after surgery. For men, this will include delaying shaving for a while, then using an electric razor at first. It’s very important that you understand these instructions and follow them exactly, to ensure the best possible healing. Our highly qualified beauty therapist and registered nurses  are here to help you throughout your recovery period.

Your new skin will be a bit swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks. During this time, you can gradually begin resuming your normal activities.

You can expect to be back at work in about two 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. Above all, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun until the pigment has completely returned to your skin , this may be as long as six to twelve months. Sunscreen every day is essential.

The pinkness of your skin will take about four to twelve weeks to fade. In the meantime, you can  wear mineral  makeup when you go out. When your new skin is fully re-pigmented, the colour should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.


Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk, as do all aspects of life. Risks common to all surgery will be explained in detail by Dr McGovern at your consultation.   

Risks specifically associated with dermabrasion- are check-listed below. All are unusual, however other and even less-common complications may also occur.

  • Herpes simplex (cold sores), infection and scarring
  • Scarring (including hypertrophic or keloid scarring) as a result of the any of the above problems occurring.
  • Roaccutane-induced scarring (if used in the year or two prior to surgery)
  • Ectropion (downward pulling of the lower eyelid)
  • Hypopigmentation (lighter than normal skin colour)
  • Hyperpigmentation (abnormally dark skin colour- usually due to sun exposure)
  • Persistent erythema (redness lasting longer than the usual four to eight weeks)
  • Demarcation lines (between treated and untreated skin)
  • Incomplete resolution or recurrence of skin problems
  • Need for further treatment or surgery.

In addition, the majority of individuals will experience:

  • Sun sensitivity. Sun avoidance, as much as possible after resurfacing procedures is essential.
  • Pseudo hypopigmentation (slightly paler skin due to removal of sun damaged skin) will occur as we have removed the damaged lates of the skin. This will normalise in time and the time this will take will depend on your skin type.

You can greatly reduce the occurrence of problems occurring by closely following Dr McGovern’s pre and post-surgery instructions, and in particular preparing your skin with medical grade skin care for as long as possible prior to your surgery, and keeping this up long term.

Dr McGovern is focused on your long-term satisfaction with the results of surgery and he and his staff will do everything possible to ensure that problems do not occur and that you are very happy with your results.