Cosmetic Procedures
Microdermabrasion: What to Expect Before, During, and After

If you want fresher, more youthful looking skin and no downtime, your dermatologist may recommend a cosmetic procedure called microdermabrasion. The following explains what happens before, during, and after this procedure.

What to Expect Before Microdermabrasion
Before performing microdermabrasion, your dermatologist will gather your medical history, ask what signs of aging concern you, and examine your skin. This helps ensure that microdermabrasion is appropriate for you.

Be sure to tell your dermatologist if you have had a cosmetic procedure in the past, scar easily, or have ever had a keloid (a type of raised scar). It also is important for your dermatologist to know if you have taken isotretinoin (a prescription medication used to treat severe acne). Dermatologists often recommend waiting 6 months or longer after taking the last dose of isotretinoin. This reduces the risk of side effects from microdermabrasion.

An at-home skin care plan may be prescribed. If a plan is prescribed, it usually is followed for at least 2 weeks before the first treatment.

What to Expect During Microdermabrasion
Before microdermabrasion, the skin to be treated is cleansed to remove oils and makeup, ensuring a more effective procedure. You will be asked to remove contact lenses and be given eye protection.

Once you are ready, the dermatologist will use a handheld device that sprays very fine particles onto your face while simultaneously vacuuming them away. Sometimes an abrasive handheld device is used instead. Both devices exfoliate the top layer of skin. You may feel the sanding, but this is not painful. Anesthesia is not required.

Microdermabrasion usually requires less than an hour. Treating the face usually takes 30 to 40 minutes, and the neck about 20 minutes.

Once the skin is treated, the skin is cleaned of stray particles, dried, and an ointment or moisturizer is applied.

What to Expect After Microdermabrasion
After a microdermabrasion procedure, the treated skin may be pink or slightly red and swollen. If the skin is red and swollen, this should disappear within a day.

You will be given a skin-care plan that includes sun protection. Sun protection helps ensure the best possible results and reduces the risk of side effects.

Monheit GD and Chastain MA. “Chemcial and Mechanical Skin Resurfacing.” In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors. Dermatology. 2nd edition. Spain, Mosby Elsevier; 2008. p. 2322-3.

Rivera AE. “Acne scarring: A review and current treatment modalities.” J Am Acad Dermatol article in press; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.05.029.

Whitaker E. “Microdermabrasion.” eMedicine. Available at:  Last accessed September 12, 2008.

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Cosmetic Procedures: Microdermabrasion





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Page last updated 10/8/08

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