Treatment Focus: Dermabrasion

Steven Cohen


December 1st, 2014

In previous posts on Confidence Corner,  we’ve discussed different types of skin refinishing and resurfacing treatments that help reduce the appearance of acne scars. (See Dr. Spencer’s post on chemical peels and Dr. Bruce’s on nonablative laser treatment). Dermabrasion is another available resurfacing option and for  this post, I’ll be providing an overview of the process and some of the side effects to keep in mind.

Dermabrasion  uses a controlled scraping technique to remove the upper surfaces of the skin. Usually a mechanical wheel attached with an abrasive material is swept across the face in a rotating motion to lift and eliminate dead surface skin cells. Similar to other resurfacing techniques, the process spurs epithelization—the process of growing new healthy skin that is more even and smoother. Because dermabraion can penetrate down to the papillary dermal layer (see anatomy of skin), it can be highly effective for medium-depth rolling and box car scars.

Please note that this procedure requires local or general anesthesia, because taking off layers of skin can be painful! Regarding side effects, your skin can be sensitive for seven to 10 days following the procedure. Complications from the procedure can include bleeding, infection, photosensitivity, and hypertrophic scaring. Complete healing will happen gradually, and you should see final results around the six month mark. To decide if  dermabrasion is right for you, consult with a dermatologist. During your appointment, the dermatologist can also review if microdermabrasion is a better option to consider. More on that treatment approach in a future post!

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