Dermabrasion, like all cosmetic procedures, carries its own risks and benefits. If you’re considering this treatment, keep reading for some need-to-know information.

Dermabrasion literally refers to a procedure that uses some form of abrasion to remove damaged layers of the epidermis. This can be achieved through a variety of advanced procedures — such as microdermabrasion, laser treatments, light therapies and more. Thus, while still implemented occasionally, the original dermabrasion technology has become somewhat antiquated, according to Stephen T. Greenberg, MD, renowned New York-based cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Greenberg explains that the original technology utilizes a tool with a small, rounded tip — also called a burr — with a rough texture. It is used to manually remove layers of skin. Rotating quickly, it abrades the skin taking away the desired amount of damaged epidermis. This allows new skin to generate as the controlled injury heals. But, Greenberg says, “Lasers are a more pinpointed, accurate way to do the same exact thing.”

Julian Gordon, MD, of Atlanta’s Plastikos Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery utilizes the original technology very infrequently, typically only to treat scars.

However, if you’re considering any form of dermabrasion, specifically the earliest modality, for cosmetic skin correction, continue reading to get the answers to some of your questions about the procedure.

What can I expect during dermabrasion treatment?

Because it can be an aggressive treatment, some form of numbing or sedation will be used. Because of this, you can expect to incur added expenses associated with anesthesia, and you should plan post-procedure transportation.

Depending on the amount of skin being removed (dermabrasion can be a light, medium or deep treatment), the duration of the procedure itself will vary, taking up to a couple of hours. You can expect some bleeding during and after the procedure, as well as redness, swelling and tenderness throughout recovery.

Occasionally, ice packs or some sort of skin freezing spray will be used to harden the flesh prior to treatment, especially if a medium or deep procedure is planned.

How do I heal after dermabrasion?

Of course, the deeper the treatment, the longer it will take to fully recover. New skin will begin to develop, on average, about a week after the procedure. The fresh skin will be pink and tender, and it can take up to twelve weeks for it to fully fade and for the appearance of the skin to return to normal.

You will need to keep the skin clean and well moisturized, and your doctor will likely give you some sort of rinse and/or topical cream to use while you heal. If dressings are applied, you will be responsible for changing them and keeping them clean. Also, avoid the sun while the new skin is developing. UV rays can lead to burning and hyperpigmentation.

Are there risks involved with dermabrasion?

According to New York cosmetic surgeon Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS, the two most common risks of dermabrasion are scarring and changes in the skin’s pigmentation. He says these can be minimized by selecting someone who has experience performing the procedure.

If your doctor or aesthetician goes too deeply, it can cause scarring. He also explains that people’s skin types need to be taken into consideration. With darker tones and deeper treatments, the changes for hyperpigmentation are higher. With paler skin, there is a small risk of losing pigment.

Also, enlarged pores and whiteheads are not an uncommon, temporary side effect.

If not properly taken care of, patients can experience infection during healing, although this is very rare, especially if you follow your doctor’s recovery instructions exactly.

Who is a good candidate for dermabrasion?

If your skin possesses overall good elasticity and you’re in overall good health, you’ve met two of the most important qualification of a strong candidate for dermabrasion. You should also possess a condition in need of correction — acne or other types of scars, discoloration, wrinkles and sun spots are all examples.

The original dermabrasion technology is not the most common cosmetic treatment used for skin correction, but it is still available. It can be an effective method of revising scars, and it can he