Dermabrasion: It ain't new, but it sure works!

Dermabrasion, a dermatologic procedure that is more than 100 years old, has a long history of being the treatment of choice for resurfacing deep facial scars and defects.

However, as new resurfacing treatments became available that offer quicker results and shorter recovery times, many patients opt for these procedures instead.

But for patients whom the newer alternative resurfacing treatments aren’t appropriate, many dermatologists and patients are again looking to dermabrasion as the treatment of choice.

Dermabrasion is a non-thermal resurfacing technique especially well-suited for deep defects of the skin such as acne scars, heavy wrinkles and the disfiguring effects of skin conditions like rosacea.

The procedure involves the mechanical sanding of the upper layers of the skin and penetrates the skin deeper than microdermabrasion.

With this procedure, a new layer of skin replaces the abraded skin during healing, resulting in a smoother appearance.

This treatment is a surgical procedure that requires only local anesthesia and for a few days following the procedure, the severely "brush burned" feeling can be avoided by using semipermeable dressings, which let moisture and air reach the skin.

The new skin that appears is pink at first, but gradually develops a normal appearance.

Most patients heal within one to two weeks. It’s important for patients to remember to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect the new pink skin.

While newer laser resurfacing treatments and microdermabrasion can be used for superficial facial lesions and defects, this procedure is still the best treatment available for deeper scarring.

Such an option is an excellent alternative for patients whose skin may not respond well to laser resurfacing.

Utilizing dermabrasion instead of laser resurfacing can avoid unwanted scarring, loss of normal skin pigmentation, skin redness and dryness, which may be the result of excessive thermal injury.

There are many dermatologic conditions for which such a procedure is an appropriate treatment.

The most frequent use for this treatment is to treat acne scarring, particularly depressed scars that give the skin a crater-like appearance and deep "ice-picking" scarring.

While acne may have long ago faded, the disfiguring scars can last a lifetime if untreated.

The wire brush used to sand the skin in this procedure can sculpt away the sharp edges of these scars.

Individuals with prominent perioral rhytids, deep wrinkles around the mouth, can also benefit from dermabrasion.

These wrinkles, often called smoker’s lines, can also be the result of heredity, age and sun exposure.

Depending on the depth of these lines, which can often extend up into the eye area, dermabrasion is the best treatment for excellent results.

While dermabrasion can give skin a smoother and refreshed appearance, there are conditions for which this treatment is not indicated, including certain types of pigmented birthmarks, scars from burns and congenital skin defects.

It’s important that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of all resurfacing procedures in order to achieve optimal results.

The dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon are the most qualified to answer questions and perform any type of resurfacing procedures.

If you’re concerned about the experience of the individual performing your resurfacing, be sure to ask about their qualifications.