Dermabrasion is another method of fine “processing” the surface layers of the skin. It most often improves the appearance of facial skin altered by scars (surgical or traumatic, the effects of acne), tattoos or superficial wrinkles, most often as a result of excessive sun exposure. Sometimes it can be the method of choice for precancerous lesions on the skin (keratosis). With this treatment, we smooth the sharp edges of surface unevenness, giving the skin a softer look.
The most important factors when choosing a candidate are the type and color of the skin, ie. degree of pigmentation. Caution is required in patients with the active stage of acne, changes caused by medical radiation or previously performed chemical peels.
DERMABRASION - PROCEDURE
Dermabrasion is performed under local anesthesia, with the possibility of combining it with a sedative. The duration of the procedure depends on the type and area of the treated change. It is also possible to perform the procedure in several sessions. Technically speaking, dermabrasion consists of removing the surface layers of the skin with a diamond drill (cutter). The abrasive procedure lasts until the operator reaches a safe level of depth in the skin at which the scar or treated wrinkles are not visible.
POSTOPERATIVE CARE AND PRECAUTIONS
Immediately after the procedure, the skin becomes red and swollen, there is a burning or localized pain, and there may be discomfort when speaking or chewing. The swelling disappears in the first week. Any scabs formed after treatment disappears at the time of the formation of a new pink solid layer of skin, which is a sign of uninterrupted healing. In case of more severe itching and burning, your operator may recommend one of the ointments to relieve the symptoms. For men, it is recommended to use an electric razor for some time after the procedure.
The skin takes on a light pink color in the first few weeks, and some precautions are needed during this period. At least two weeks after the procedure, no activity is recommended that could result in a blow/punch to the face. More active sports, especially with the ball, should be avoided for 4-6 weeks. It is necessary to avoid excessive exposure to the sun and wind, as well as bathing in chlorinated water for at least 4 weeks (pools). After about a month, alcoholic beverages can be consumed without the risk of developing redness of the skin.
In the later period of development of the new pigment in the skin (6-12 months), sun protection measures are necessary. When complete pigmentation occurs, the color of the treated area should be the same or very similar to the surrounding skin and barely noticeable.
DERMABRASION - COMPLICATIONS AND RISKS
The most significant risk of dermabrasion is the possibility of changes in skin pigmentation. Some patients may experience permanent changes in the form of darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation), usually with more exposure to the sun. On the other hand, some patients may develop lighter tone (hypopigmentation). It is also possible the formation of small whitish spot changes (milia) that usually disappear quickly, and less often it is necessary to remove them. Sometimes after dermabrasion there is an expansion of the skin pores, a change that also disappears after a short time.
A very rare possibility is the development of scar tissue in the form of a keloid or hypertrophic scar. In these cases, after the already completed healing, itching occurs, the treated area becomes red, elevated from the level of the surrounding skin. These can be early signs of the onset of an abnormal scar. Then steroid injections help to soften the scar tissue. It is important to contact the operator immediately to examine the operated area and determine the therapy, if necessary.
Chemical peels are one of the alternatives to dermabrasion.
Generally speaking, exfoliation more often treats finer wrinkles, while rougher and deeper changes and scars are removed by abrasion. In individuals with slightly darker skin, dermabrasion is preferred, especially at limited application sites. The choice of one or the other procedure lies with the operator and his experience.
Finally, it should be emphasized that none of the methods of superficial skin rejuvenation (dermabrasion, peeling) is able to remove all traces of scars or prevent changes caused by skin aging, but it can certainly contribute to significant improvement.