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What are the pros and cons of dermabrasion?

A person can feel good about themselves when they have a good appearance and look. Taking care of skin is one of the ways that helps a person to look and feel attractive. Having a healthy and clear skin does not only boost one’s confidence but also helps a person have youthful and resilient skin. There are many skin disorders that could cause a person to feel disappointed or shame with their skin conditions. Some may even ask a doctor on what treatments can be done to help them achieve a better skin. One of the treatments that have gained popularity in the past decade is a dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion is a procedure that resurfaces the skin to minimise scars from acne, accidents or previous surgery, wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. It is also used to help reduce precancerous skin growth and appearance of sun damage. Dermabrasion is done by using a high-speed instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush that rotates to remove the top layer of the skin. The aim of dermabrasion is to deliberately “injure” the skin in a very slight manner to induce the skin reaction. The “injured” skin will be replaced by the new skin tissue.

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This procedure is done manually by certified doctors or dermatologists in the office. Before this procedure is done, a series of skin consultations is common to help patients understand the goal of the procedure and the pros and cons that comes with it. Below are pros and cons that should be considered both by doctors and patients.

Pros

  • Treatments usually are performed within the doctor’s office without the need of staying overnight in the hospital. Patients can go straight home after the procedure is done.
  • Dermabrasion can be completed within a few minutes for most face treatments and smaller areas of the body.
  • Growth of new skin can be seen as fast as 7 to 10 days after the procedure.
  • Discomfort or pain tend to subside within 24 hours and may not need medication after the procedure.

Cons

  • Mainly it is ideal for fair-skinned individuals as the risk of increased pigmentation (hyperpigmentation) or pigmentation loss (hypopigmentation) is high with those with darker skin.
  • Patient with history of taking isotretinoin or currently taking the medication may not be recommended to have dermabrasion as the medication may increase risk for hypertrophic (thick raised scar that may be improved within years) or keloid scar (thick raised scar that usually does not go away and extend beyond the boundary of the original injury site) formation.
  • Those with active acne may not be suitable for dermabrasion.
  • Ineffective against congenital skin abnormalities, moles and birthmarks.
  • Skin irritation is common after dermabrasion. Skin usually is sensitive and bright pink in colour for the first few months after the procedure. Avoiding direct sunlight and using sunscreen is necessary to protect the skin after dermabrasion.
  • Risk of infection (although is rare).
  • Fever blisters that may happen to frequent herpes simplex infections in the past. Typically, a person with a history of herpes simplex virus (HSV) or cold sore should be in dormant status for at least 6 to 8 weeks before dermabrasion procedure. A person with a history of HSV infections may be given antivirals for a few days up to weeks prior to the procedure.
  • Swelling and scars may occur.

In essence, dermabrasion is one of the many treatments that is offered by dermatologists to help a person improve their appearance. It is best to have a thorough discussion with a dermatologist on options and the best treatments for your skin concerns. Always follow dermatologist advice before, during and after a skin procedure is done to have a maximal outcome.

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