Microdermabrasion is one of the most popular skincare treatments on the market. It acts as a dead skin remover, but its transformative capabilities might not be as impressive as they first appear. In fact, microdermabrasion can cause lasting damage to the skin. In this blog, we’ll cover what exactly microdermabrasion is, why it’s damaging, and the best alternative treatments.
What is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a non-chemical skincare treatment designed to buff away the top layer of your skin (stratum corneum). It’s a type of face exfoliator and is designed to remove dead skin cells.
It should not be confused with dermabrasion. This is a stronger, invasive surgical procedure performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons under anaesthesia.
Microdermabrasion is generally regarded as a superficial anti-aging treatment and supposedly reduces the appearance of fine lines, minor scars, wrinkles and age spots. Microdermabrasion before and after effects reportedly include younger looking skin and the overall feel of the skin being smoother.
However, it’s difficult to demonstrate its actual benefits. It has also been scientifically proven to only generate mild to moderate improvement.
For this minimal affect, the negatives of stripping away your skin’s barrier outweigh the positives. As a result of this, microdermabrasion remains an intensely debated topic amongst medical professionals.
How Does Microdermabrasion Work?
The most common application method involves the use of a specialist microdermabrasion machine being scraped along the very top layer of the skin. Most microdermabrasion units are negative pressure systems that blast aluminium oxide crystals into the skin. Some systems also use sodium chloride crystals or positive pressure.
There Are 3 Main Types Of The Procedure:
The Initial Side Effects of Microdermabrasion
Due to the abrasive nature of the treatment, skin inflammation is a common side effect. People who’ve receive the treatment report swelling, redness and tenderness immediately after.
Again, because of the exfoliation, many people report having dry and flaky skin after microdermabrasion as a result of excessive water loss. The treatment is recommended to be immediately followed by a hydrating facial moisturiser in order to prevent skin dehydration.
One of the most serious immediate side effects is your skin’s increased susceptibility to sun damage. As the protective barrier of dead skin cells has been removed, your skin is highly sensitive to UV rays, which can cause serious damage. Regular exposure to UV rays without adequate protection can lead to sunburn, and even skin cancers.
Why You Need to Avoid Microdermabrasion
Whilst there is some improvement in skin collagen content¹, the damage its causing to achieve this makes it not worth it in the long run. Microdermabrasion gives temporary results, that have long lasting damaging and ageing effects.
The stripping of the stratum corneum can also result in bacterial infections. This is due to the breaking down of your skin’s barrier which leaves your skin vulnerable. This then allows potential bacterial infections to pass through the skin barrier.
On top of this, it leaves the skin more susceptible to damaging free radicals in the air, which arise from issues such as pollution. Free radicals are chemicals that have been oxidised, which means that they have lost an electron. This causes oxidative stress as these free radicals are unstable and highly reactive. They resultantly oxidise everything that they come into contact with, which is one of the leading factors contributing to premature ageing.
Aside from the surface action, microdermabrasion has a minimal effect on the skin underneath. This means the perceived benefits are largely superficial, and don’t work to actively target or treat underlying conditions, complaints or signs of ageing. In fact, all the above affects contribute to a gradual increase in the skin’s ageing process.
The Serious Effects Of Microdermabrasion on Deeper Skin Tones
Dermoi Chief Scientific Officer Eve Casha explains that the treatment can be particularly damaging to those with deeper skin tones. Microdermabrasion can cause skin pigmentation, which is often temporary, but can lead to permanent visible effects. Those with deeper skin tones may experience uneven darkening or lightening on certain areas of the skin².
Whenever something causes inflammation on deeper skin tones, there’s always risk of pigmentation issues because deeper skin tones have more active melanocytes. In severe cases when inflammation causes permanent damage to melanocytes they will lose function and skin blanching (permanent white patches) will occur. This is caused by a disruption of melanosomes in the epidermis.
Microdermabrasion Is Temporary
Since human skin typically regenerates at roughly 30-day intervals, any visible improvement seen with microdermabrasion is temporary. This means that the procedure would need to be repeated on average intervals of 2 to 4 weeks.
Repeated exposure to microdermabrasion with small intervals, increases the chance of having long lasting skin damage, and can lead to the premature ageing of the skin.
Alternative Treatments to Microdermabrasion
Osmosis Vitamin Infusion is a next generation “no-acid facial peel” for deep rejuvenation. It begins with a deep double cleanse and enzymatic exfoliation.
The vitamin infusion is then added which uses liposomes to deliver a potent dose of vitamin A. Other skincare actives can be infused depending on you skin conditions.
This is followed by a lifting, plumping, and firming hydrating mask. At the end of the treatment, a combination of antioxidant-rich serums, hydrators, and protectors are then applied to the skin to delivery the ultimate level of protection.
Overall the treatment provides resurfacing whilst repairing the skin’s barrier. Vitamin a is also an antioxidant, which protects against the damaging effects of free radicals.
Find out more about the Osmosis Vitamin Infusion here.
The PCA Perfecting Peel is another great alternative to microdermabrasion, which exfoliates the skin. It stimulates collagen, boosts hydration, evens skin tone and texture, and reduces pigmentation.
It’s less abrasive than microdermabrasion and exfoliation can be customised based on individual resurfacing needs.
The treatment involves deep exfoliation with enzymes, mandelic acid, and lactic acid to smooth the skin while penetrating deep to fight the source of pigmentation. Results are boosted with an advanced retinoid blend that continues to resurface for 10hrs after the treatment.
Green LED light therapy provides additional anti-hyperpigmentation benefits. Ultrasonic stimulation, vibration massage, and lymphatic drainage lift, tighten and revive the skin.
This treatment is also high in antioxidants so, again, helps minimise free radical damage.
Find out more about the the PCA Perfecting Peel here.
- El-Domyati, M., Hosam, W., Abdel-Azim, E., Abdel-Wahab, H. and Mohamed, E., 2016. Microdermabrasion: a clinical, histometric, and histopathologic study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 15(4), pp.503-513.
- Fernandes, M., Pinheiro, N., Crema, V. and Mendonça, A., 2013. Effects of microdermabrasion on skin rejuvenation. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 16(1), pp.26-31.