Microdermabrasion is a common, non-invasive procedure that helps to reduce the appearance of such skin conditions as crow's feet, acne scars and wrinkles, through gentle, but repeated exfoliation of the skin. The repeated treatments, long-term maintenance and temporary nature of the results are all serious considerations for a potential patient. Here are some alternatives to microdermabrasion.

DIY Kits

For patients who prefer a quick fix, many beauty-supply companies have do-it-yourself, at-home exfoliating kits that serve as alternatives to microdermabrasion in the doctor's office. The biggest difference between these over-the-counter options and those offered by a physician is the level of thoroughness that is associated with the exfoliation process. The at-home options are significantly less powerful, which lead to a less-thorough exfoliation than can be provided through physician treatment.

There are two types of microdermabrasion options available for people to purchase on their own. The first is a basic cream or lotion that includes a chemical exfoliating agent. A number of these OTC creams include aluminum oxide crystals, which are the same minerals used in many physicians' offices to scrub down the skin's surface. These can cost anywhere from $3 to $98 — significantly less than a typical, singular microdermabrasian treatment. Basic microdermabrasion machines are also available for home use, similar to the ones used in doctor's offices. These can set you back about $300. It is important to keep in mind that these options can help reduce skin blemishes, but remember to consult a licensed dermatologist or skin professional before using them — especially if you have pre-existing skin or medical conditions.

Dermabrasion

For patients who have more time to recuperate and would prefer a longer-lasting result, dermabrasion might be the best of the alternatives to microdermabrasion. A similar concept, dermabrasion is actually surgical procedure performed under either local or general anesthesia. The procedure is comprised of a surgeon scraping the patient's skin with a wired brush until he has removed as much of the unwanted imperfections as possible, often removing many layers of skin. Side effects of the procedure may include bleeding and general discomfort. The surgery can take anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours depending on the size of the area being treated. After the surgery, patients can expect skin to be swollen and red for several weeks and possibly remain discolored for as long as three months. Also, differing from microdermabrasion's no recovery time, this procedure could require up to two weeks of recovery prior to returning to a normal working schedule. The key benefit of this procedure is that results are fairly close to permanent, compared to the temporary nature of microdermabrasion.

Chemical Peels

Another option similar to microdermabrasion is a chemical peel. This procedure is minimally invasive and uses a chemical solution to reduce the appearance of acne scars, age spots or even freckles. Chemical peels are generally performed as a three-step process, and each type has different effects. As such, it is important to discuss with a physician which option is appropriate for your lifestyle as well as your desired results. A light chemical peel is repeated monthly, and each appointment lasts around ten minutes at a doctor's office. However, much like microdermabrasion, repeated applications are required to achieve desired results. A "medium" chemical peel is applied every six to 12 months. A common side effect of this option is that after each treatment, it can take six weeks for the skin area to return to its normal appearance. Finally, there is a deep-chemical-peel option. Patients who opt for this procedure may need a local anesthetic or a sedative to help with potential pain issues, as well as a pain management option post-peel. With the deep chemical peel, discomfort and redness can last up to three months, but the results will remain for up to 10 years, making it a far more feasible long-term choice than other chemical-peel options.

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