Friday, February 20, 2015

Microdermabrasion—What’s all the fuss about?

What is microdermabrasion? There is a lot written about this anti-aging procedure. Let’s take a look at what all the fuss is about.

There are no lasers or chemicals used in microdermabrasion. The procedure entails a small tube that sprays a jet of fine crystals (resembling sand) onto the skin’s surface, which helps remove dead and damaged cells. It is said to be painless and does not require anesthesia of any kind. It’s sometimes called a “lunchtime peel,” meaning you can go in on your lunch break and come out without looking too red or swollen.

Many clients (myself included) didn’t find the procedure to be 100% painless. And when I did some experiments, getting microdermabrasion facials on just one side of my face (I’m the eternal experimenter!), the side that was abraded was very sensitive—even to the touch—for several days.

Microdermabrasion helps regenerate new cell growth. It is said to stimulate collagen production and increase blood supply to the skin. With repeated treatments, you may notice some of your fine lines and wrinkles have diminished. Pigmentation irregularities, such as hyperpigmentation or chloasma, are said to show signs of improvement. (Remember, as long as you are prone to chloasma, it will continue to appear no matter what. This means that even if you have erased the dark spots with this or any other procedure or product, given time and sun exposure, you will be right back where you started from.)
Realistically, this could read: EXFOLIATE for younger, smoother skin.
Microdermabrasion is FDA approved and is usually performed by a licensed aesthetician. Keep in mind that not all aestheticians are skilled technicians, but everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon to make more money. Well, almost everyone—so there may be unqualified people offering microdermabrasion.

I would be very careful to find someone who has gone through proper training in this procedure. Just like searching for a good aesthetician, you want to ask a lot of questions and find someone who really knows what she’s talking about—not just someone who wants to take your money, promising you 20-year-old skin. 

Like with facials using glycolic acid, you are encouraged to get a series of microdermabrasion sessions along with using special products from the salon. Once again, if microdermabrasion is simply a mild topical exfoliation, I believe you could accomplish the same results by exfoliating more regularly at home as well as getting regular facial treatments.

If you had facials as often as they have you come in for microdermabrasion treatments, surely you would see a noticeable change for the better in your skin. On the other hand, if this procedure goes deep enough to affect significant changes in your pigmentation or even your wrinkles, it scares me to think of the consequences of microdermabrasion being performed by mere aestheticians.

Although the skin is resilient, it is still a delicate organ. I don’t believe in disrupting the outer dead skin with invasive or even semi-invasive procedures, but of all the current skin removal techniques, this particular one seems the least harmful.

I have not seen improvements in my clients’ pigmentation spots with this procedure, nor do I believe it truly stimulates collagen production. Microdermabrasion will improve the texture of your skin, as will any exfoliating process. Be aware, however, that microdermabrasion is pricey. In fact when my clients ask about microdermabrasion, I tell them to get it themselves and see what they think, but that I know for sure—for me—it is simply expensive exfoliation.

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