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The procedure is performed by a dermatologic surgeon.

When is dermabrasion used?
When dermabrasion was first developed, it was used predominantly to improve acne scars, pox marks, and scars resulting from accidents or disease. Today, it is used to treat other skin conditions, such as tattoo scars, age (liver) spots, wrinkles, and skin lesions.

Dermabrasion is not effective in treating congenital skin defects, most moles or pigmented birthmarks, or scars from burns.

What happens prior to the dermabrasion procedure?
During the consultation, the dermatologic surgeon describes the type of anesthesia to be used, the procedure, and what results might realistically be expected. The doctor also explains the possible risks and complications that may occur. Photographs are taken before and after surgery to help evaluate the amount of improvement. Preoperative and postoperative instructions are given to the patient at this time.

How does dermabrasion work?
Dermabrasion can be performed in the dermatologic surgeon's office or in an outpatient surgical facility. Medication to relax the patient may be given prior to surgery. The affected area is thoroughly cleaned with an antiseptic cleansing agent. Next, your doctor will apply a special spray is applied that freezes the skin. A high-speed rotary instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush then removes the outer layers of the skin and improves any irregularities in the skin surface.

What happens after dermabrasion?
After the procedure, your skin will feel as though it has been severely "brush-burned" for a few days. Your doctor can prescribe or recommend medications to help reduce any discomfort you may have. Healing usually occurs within seven to 10 days. The newly formed skin, which is pink at first, gradually develops a normal color. In most cases, the pinkness largely fades by six to eight weeks. Makeup can be used as a cover-up as soon as the skin is healed.

Generally, most people can resume their normal activities seven to 14 days after dermabrasion. Patients are instructed to avoid unnecessary direct and indirect sunlight for three to six months after the procedure and to use sunscreen on a regular basis when outdoors.

Are there side effects and complications with dermabrasion?
Side effects are uncommon but they do occur. The most common side effects include:

  • Temporary or permanent uneven changes in skin color
  • Temporary or permanent darkening of the skin, usually caused by sun exposure in the days and months following surgery
  • Scar tissue
  • Infection

How should I take care of myself after surgery?
Do not drink alcohol for 48 hours after the surgery. Do not take aspirin or any products that contain aspirin or ibuprofen for one week after the surgery. Avoid smoking, as advised by your doctor. You will have a mandatory appointment the day after your surgery; your doctor will provide more details.