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. 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. Dermabrasion uses surgical instruments to remove the affected skin layers, while chemical peel uses an acid solution. Laser resurfacing uses CO2 laser to vaporize the top layers of the skin. Your surgeon 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 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. Laser resurfacing is used for all these problems especially where they extend over the whole face and are combined with some degree of skin laxity or sagging.
If you would like more information on chemical peel or lasers, click on those topics.
Dermabrasion can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but neither treatment will remove all scars and flaws or prevent subsequent aging. Before you decide to have a skin-refinishing 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, black skin, Asian skin, and other dark complexions are not suitable for dermabrasion as they may become permanently discolored or blotchy after a skin-refinishing 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. The most common risk is a change in skin pigmentation. Permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by exposure to the sun in the months following treatment, occurs in some in some patients especially where they disregard our advice to avoid the sun post-operatively. You will find that after dermabrasion the treated skin remains a little lighter, than the non-treated sundamaged skin.
You may develop tiny whiteheads after surgery and these usually disappear on their own. 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.
You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon such as your surgeon, and closely following his advice.
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, 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 usually prefer to use general anaesthesia, in which case you’ll sleep through the procedure. Attempts at performing the surgery under local anesthesia and sedation are usually uncomfortable and unsatisfactory.
Dermabrasion can be performed fairly quickly. 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 motorized 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 ointment, this is the only “dressing”.
Right after the procedure, your skin will be quite red and swollen, and eating and talking may be difficult. You’ll probably feel some tingling, burning, or aching; any pain you feel can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon. The swelling will begin to subside in a few days to a week.
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, skin will grow upward from the hair follicles and sweat glands over the first 7-10 days.
A new layer of tight pink skin then forms. Your face 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 nurse aestheticians are here to help you throughout your recovery period.
If you notice the treated area beginning to get worse instead of better -f or example, if it becomes increasingly red, raised, and itchy after it has started to heal it may be a sign that abnormal scars are beginning to form. Call your surgeon as soon as possible, so that treatment can begin early.
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.
Refinishing treatments can offer dramatic improvements in the surface of your skin, but it will take some time before you see the final results.
The pinkness of your skin will take about four to twelve weeks to fade. In the meantime, you’ll probably want to wear non-allergenic makeup when you go out. Your surgeon’s staff will be happy to supply specialist camouflage cosmetics for you, and instruct you in their use. When your new skin is fully repigmented, the colour should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.