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Dermabrasion is a procedure designed to smooth either the whole face or just an area of the face. Through controlled surgical "sanding" of the damaged skin, dermabrasion allows smoother, younger-looking skin to form.

If you are considering a dermabrasion, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult a facial surgeon who is board certified or has completed a residency program that included instruction in this procedure.

*Dermabrasion costs around $100 for a spot treatment and as much as $4,000 for a more in-depth procedure.

*Dermabrasion, like the deeper chemical peels, is very effective in reducing the appearance of vertical wrinkles around the mouth.

Dermabrasion is a procedure with long-lasting results.





  1. What are some of the most common benefits of this procedure?
  2. How is a dermabrasion performed?
  3. How long does it take?
  4. Will I need to stay in the hospital?
  5. How much pain is there?
  6. What can I expect after the procedure?
  7. What is the recovery period like?
  8. What is the long-term outcome for most people?
  9. Ideal candidate:
  10. Alternatives:
  11. Risks and limitations:

What are some of the most common benefits of Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion can produce smoother, more attractive skin texture It removes damaged skin, and softens the sharp contours and irregularities caused by wrinkles, scarring, and acne. Dermabrasion can also successfully treat liver (age) spots and some skin lesions. It is also used to remove pre-cancerous growths (keratoses).

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How is a dermabrasion performed?

The doctor will begin by covering your eyes and the hair. Next, he/she will numb your skin, perhaps by injecting anesthesia or by spraying your skin with a refrigerant. Before spraying the skin, the doctor may apply a cold pack to numb the area. You may also be given a sedative.

Dermabrasion consists of a measured scraping of damaged skin from the face to create an area where a new layer of skin may form. To remove the skin, the doctor uses a handheld, motorized instrument, often with a brush, or a sanding wheel containing diamond particles, on the end that touches the skin.

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How long does it take?

Dermabrasion is a fairly quick procedure. The time that it takes depends on the size and the condition of the area to be treated. Usually, it is completed in 30 to 60 minutes.

If the skin needs severe correction, or there is a large area of skin to be treated, the doctor may decide to perform the dermabrasion in several staged procedures, rather than all at once.

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Will I need to stay in the hospital?

Dermabrasion is most often performed in the doctor's office, although it may also be done at an outpatient surgical center or at the hospital, depending on your preferences as well as your doctor's.

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How much pain is there?

Although there is some bleeding during this procedure, there is not a much pain during the procedure itself, which is usually performed under local anesthesia.

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What can I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, the treated area may be covered with an ointment, a wet or waxy covering, and/or a dry covering.

For a few days after the procedure, the skin looks and feels as if it has been scraped (such as in a fall). A scab will form over the treated area within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.

The skin is usually swollen for the first day or two afterward. Oral pain medication may be taken to ease the discomfort. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed as well to prevent possible infections.

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What is the recovery period like?

After several days, the outer layer of skin, including any scabbing, begins to loosen and fall off. Once this layer is gone, the skin is very pink, but that pinkness fades at about three to six weeks. During this time, special soaps and cosmetics may be applied to the area. It may be possible to perform your work duties within the first two days, although your skin may still be red and sore. However, most people return to work in about two weeks, giving the skin a chance to heal. Talk to your doctor about your particular preferences with regard to discretion.

For the first two weeks, you'll also need to avoid strenuous physical activity. Men are advised to avoid shaving during this time as well. Sunlight should be avoided for several weeks.

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What is the long-term outcome for most people?

Dermabrasion can produce dramatic results. The outcome depends on the original condition of the skin, skin tone, the depth of wrinkles and other imperfections, and individual healing ability.

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Ideal candidate:

In general, the best candidates for dermabrasion are people:

  • In good physical health
  • Psychologically stable
  • Aware of the processes involved
  • Accepting of the physical limitations involved in the healing process
  • Free of active acne
  • Who have not had a previous chemical peel, severe sunburn, or radiation treatment
  • Without unidentified skin sensitivities
  • Who have not taken Accutane any time in the past year and a half
  • Can realistically avoid exposure to direct sunlight for several weeks following the procedure
  • Well informed about variations in the procedure's outcome, especially as it pertains to different skin tones and skin types (Patients with fair skin tones generally have better results from dermabrasion than patients with darker skin.)
  • With realistic expectations for the procedure's outcome

The above is only a partial list of the criteria that your doctor will consider in determining whether or not this procedure is appropriate for you. Be sure to ask your doctor if he / she considers you an ideal candidate for dermabrasion.

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Dermabrasion may be combined with other resurfacing procedures such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser resurfacing. These procedures may also be used instead of dermabrasion. To determine the best procedure for you, discuss your expectations with your doctor.

Dermabrasions are often used in combination with facelifts. Dermabrasion corrects the surface and texture of the skin, and facelift corrects loose, sagging skin on the face. Note: patients with fair skin tones generally have better results from dermabrasion than patients with darker skin.

If you want to remove or improve facial scars from acne or surgery, you'll need to discuss the timing of the procedure with your doctor. It may be necessary to wait a few months, or even a year before having a dermabrasion treatment. It's possible to perform dermabrasion on skin with active acne, but it is generally best to control the acne prior to the performing the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic medication such as tetracycline to control the acne before the treatment.

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Dermabrasion Risks and limitations:

Infection and scarring is rare, but can occur. If too much scar tissue forms, it may be softened with steroid injections. Occasionally, hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin) occurs, but this may be treated with bleaching cream. Skin lightening or patchiness can also occur, especially on people with naturally darker  skin tones.

After the procedure, some patients get small whiteheads called milia. These usually disappear after washing, but some may require the doctor's help to remove them. You should tell your doctor if you have this problem. You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your doctor, both before and after a chemical peel.

Pre-existing conditions may also put you at risk. To reduce your risks, let your doctor know if you have a history of fever blisters of cold sores, such as herpes or shingles. Taking an anti-viral medicine before the procedure may help prevent the flare-ups afterwards.

Also tell your doctor if you have taken Accutane in the last 18 months. This medication can impede healing and increase the risk of scarring.

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Costs source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

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