One of the more recent skin care treatments available in the mainstream market, having essentially crossed over from the Hollywood is the microdermabrasion process.
More popularly known as the ‘instant facelift,’ it is one of the most effective skin treatment alternatives, compared to other expensive procedures like plastic surgery, Botox treatments and chemical peels.
Men and women alike are trying out this new treatment wherein, they can get the desired skin type without having to pursue invasive cosmetic procedures. As it gains more popularity in the mainstream market, several questions are being raised – what exactly is involved in the process and how it helps achieve the desired look and skin texture?
Does one need the assistance of a doctor, or can the process be rendered by oneself? We have taken some of these most imminent questions and have discussed the process in this article.
Basics behind the process
Our skin is made of two layers- the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis, or the topmost layer is basically formed of a set of dead skin cells that are layered on top of one another and is in a continuous process of maturing.
Known as the stratum-corneum, this layer essentially forms a barrier between the outside world and the lower skin layers, protecting the lower living layers from harmful agents. It is in this layer that the microdermabrasion process is effectuated. This light cosmetic procedure is implemented through the application of tiny rough grains to the topmost layer of the skin used to buff away the surface layer.
The procedure has become very popular since it is non-invasive and is conducted in two parts – first an exfoliating material like crystals or diamond flakes are used to ensure deep but controlled abrasion of the uppermost layer of the skin, post which a machine based suction is used to gently lift up the skin.
There are different products and treatments available in the markets today that are associated with this method, including medical procedures and beauty treatment regimes at salons. Specialized scrubs and creams are available across the skincare markets of the world that can be applied to achieve the effect on the face, neck, chest, arms or hands.
Microdermabrasion at salons
If the patient goes to a clinic a skilled technician performs the process, usually with the help of specialized tools designed especially for the procedure. The tool utilized is designed to shoot streams of tiny crystals made of aluminum oxide, sodium chloride or sodium bicarbonate, which is used to collect the dead skin cells from the stratum-corneum as well as the used crystals.
The tool is equipped with a vacuum mechanism which:
- Selects a small area of the skin and raises the same for the technician to work upon
- Creates a mild swelling on the skin surface, which consequently brings the impurities to the surface
The tool then shoots off streams of crystals to the targeted area of the skin, which results in controlled abrasion after which it collects the used crystal and dead skin cells and disposes them. The technician moves the tool over the selected patch of skin and usually passes the same area two to three times, being careful not to affect the lower skin layers.
The patient is then prescribed some moisturizers and lotions that will help in the rehydration of the skin and promote the growth of new and healthy cells, creating the ‘facelift’ affect.
Watch a video on how microdermabrasion is done
as explained by Diane Zdesar, a skin care specialist
Effects of Microdermabrasion
Whether the process is conducted with the help of trained professionals or at home, the process works on the principle of removing or breaking of the topmost layer of the epidermis, which the body interprets as a mild injury and thus replaces the lost cells with a batch of healthy and fresh cells.
Within the first hour of the treatment, there is a mild edema and erythema causing swelling and redness of the skin, which may last from anything between a few hours to two days, depending on the person’s skin type.
Benefits of Microdermabrasion
The process comes with several benefits – with the stratum corneum gone, the skin layer is injured and the healing process brings forth newer skin cells, making the skin appear smooth and fresh.
The visible imperfections of the epidermis, like the wrinkles and the sun damage, are also eliminated in this process. If the process is conducted regularly it can influence the lower layers of the skin to grow and replace the upper layers and thus can be effective even against severe scars.
For those suffering from the aftereffects of acne in the form of severe blemishes and scars, microdermabrasion for acne scar treatment is often recommended by skincare experts. Though the process is time-consuming, healthcare science has proven that the rapid loss of moisture leads the skin cells to heal progressively over time, and thereby improve the overall appearance of the skin.
Who undergoes the process?
Known to be very effective in unclogging blocked acne pores, the process is extensively used by people whose skin is too sensitive for the acne treatment drugs like Retin-A. People looking forward to remove their tan, or reduce wrinkle-lines and scars are also known to have benefited from this treatment.
However, since the process involves active buffing of the skin, people with the following conditions are deemed unsuitable:
- Fragile capillaries
- Active rosacea
- Widespread acne
- Open sores
- Anyone taking anti-coagulants
- Diabetes mellitus
Though the process has gained immense popularity because of its efficacy, if not done properly it can be significantly damaging to the skin. Microdermabrasion can bruise or discolor the skin if wrongly performed; the vacuum tool used can cause blemishes, if the skin tension is lost or is uneven.
It is important to note that the lip area is the most susceptible to bruising and the eyelids should be avoided at all times. While the process performed optimally, can give the skin an entirely new look, incorrectly done, it may leave the skin severely damaged.