Skin Care Column: Microdermabrasion, How It Works

Skin Care Column: Microdermabrasion, How It Works

Microdermabrasion, also known as microderm, is one of the easiest and most effective anti-aging treatments you can get. Its benefits are many: Microderm softens lines and wrinkles, helps to smooth coarsely textured skin, decreases the appearance of scarring, decreases pore size, and reduces superficial hyper-pigmentation, sometimes known as age spots.

Microdermabrasion also makes it easier for medical grade skin care products to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and build collagen, which gives skin its youthful appearance.

The crystal microdermabrasion device consists of a compressor that draws in air through a hand-held wand. When the wand touches the skin, a vacuum is created. Aluminum oxide crystals, also known as corundum (the second hardest mineral next to diamonds) blast across the skin’s surface, picking up dead skin cells along the way.

The crystals and dead skin cells are quickly sucked up through a different tube in the same wand and go to a disposable bag.

The depth of exfoliation is controlled by the strength of the vacuum and crystal flow, which is determined by the esthetician. He or she makes two passes over the skin, sometimes a third if your skin is thick enough or if there is an area that needs special attention, like a scar or brown spot.

Crystal microdermabrasion can be uncomfortable, especially around the sensitive tissue of the mouth and nose, but it should not be painful. The esthetician should be checking in with you about your comfort level during the treatment. Microdermabrasion can achieve dramatic results, but is highly dependent on the skill of the esthetician. In general, it’s best if you get it from an esthetician you already know and trust. For the best results, it is generally recommended to get a series of treatments. A typical protocol is six treatments about ten to fourteen days apart.

It is important to realize that you have taken off the outermost layer of the skin, which is also its protection. Be careful with your skin a few days after the microderm abrasion treatment. Don’t do vigorous exercise and don’t expose your skin to the sun. Wear a sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF, even if it’s a cloudy day.

Don’t expect to get the same results with a home microdermabrasion kit, which works more like a scrub. In fact, you can easily overdo it and irritate your skin. I’ve had several clients come in for help after trying the microderm home kits, who have actually bruised and scratched their skin from a too aggressive self-treatment. Professional microderm treatments are the way to go, with much better results and you won’t be wasting your money.

June English is a licensed esthetician and owner of Professional Skin Care Choices LLC., in Los Alamos. For more information, visit or call 505.507.0124.