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Microdermabrasion - Indications, Benefits, and Side Effects

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Microdermabrasion is an FDA-approved cosmetic procedure that cures various skin-related problems. Read this article to know more about this procedure.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jain Vicky Ghewarchand

Published At November 24, 2022
Reviewed AtFebruary 8, 2024

What Is Microdermabrasion (MDA)?

Microdermabrasion (MDA) is a widely available and common nonsurgical cosmetic procedure. This FDA (The United States Food and Drug Administration) -approved minimally invasive epidermal resurfacing procedure is widely used to treat various skin-related conditions, including uneven skin tone, texture, photoaging, melasma, age spots, wrinkles, and acne scars. The MDA procedure is performed in an outpatient setting like a medical office or medical spa by a trained clinician, aesthetician, or nurse without anesthesia. This technique is suitable for all skin types and colors and makes fine changes, causing no skin color change or scarring. In addition, microdermabrasion can also improve skin permeability and enhance the delivery of transdermal medications dosed on the MDA-treated skin.

What Are the Benefits of Microdermabrasion?

People may choose to get microdermabrasion if they have the following cosmetic problems:

  • Uneven skin tone or texture.

  • Acne and acne scars.

  • Stretch marks.

  • Fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Age spots and brown spots.

  • Melasma.

  • Enlarged pores.

  • Photoaging.

  • Seborrheic skin.

  • Hyperpigmentation.

  • Dull skin.

In addition to cosmetic problems, microdermabrasion also helps improves transdermal drug delivery. It allows the drug to diffuse more freely in the epidermis layer of the skin. Previous research suggests that this procedure involves transdermal insulin delivery, transdermal vitamin C delivery, transdermal lidocaine delivery, and transdermal 5-fluorouracil delivery.

When Is Microdermabrasion Not Used?

Microdermabrasion is contraindicated for people who have:

  • Active cutaneous infections include herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus, human papillomavirus, and impetigo.

  • Contact allergies to abrasive crystals.

  • Rosacea and telangiectasias.

  • Known history of hypertrophic scarring (keloids).

How to Prepare for a Microdermabrasion?

  • Discuss skin concerns with a healthcare professional before undergoing microdermabrasion. In addition, discuss cosmetic procedures and surgeries, allergies, and medical conditions. No pre-medication is required. The healthcare professional may give the following pre-treatment instructions:

  • Avoid sun exposure, tanning creams, and waxing one week before the procedure.

  • Discontinue skin exfoliation approximately three days before treatment.

  • Quit smoking a week before microdermabrasion to improve blood flow.

What Equipment Is Needed to Perform Microdermabrasion Procedure?

Microdermabrasion devices can be of two types:

  • Crystal-Based Systems- The crystal-based system directs abrasive crystals at the skin at a controlled flow rate. Aluminum oxide is the most commonly used crystal. Sodium chloride, magnesium oxide, and sodium bicarbonate crystals are less frequently used.

  • Crystal-Free Systems- Diamonds embedded in the handpiece provide the abrasive stimulus in crystal-dree systems.


The following equipment is required to perform the microdermabrasion procedure:

  • Abrasion crystals (for crystal-based systems).

  • Microdermabrasion handpiece.

  • Disposable handpiece tips or autoclaved handpiece tips.

  • Filters.

  • Gentle skin cleanser.

  • Protective equipment, such as eyewear, gloves, and mask.

What Is the Technique of Microdermabrasion?

The procedure involves the following steps:

  • Firstly, the desired surface area is thoroughly cleaned with a mild cleanser.

  • Then, moist gauze is put over the eyes to prevent abrasive crystals from blowing into the eyes.

  • Using negative pressure, the device pulls the skin into the handpiece.

  • The device then directs the abrasive crystals at a predetermined flow rate.

  • Surface debris and the cell layers of the stratum corneum layer are removed, and the particles collect in a reservoir.

  • The degree of stratum corneum removal depends on the abrasive crystal flow rate and procedure exposure time.

  • The device is then passed over the target area.

  • The remaining crystals and surface debris are wiped away using a washcloth, and a gentle moisturizer is applied. Completion of the entire procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes.

  • People who undergo microdermabrasion often require four to six weekly treatments to achieve the desired results.

What Is Expected After Microdermabrasion?

There is minimal or almost no downtime after microdermabrasion. Therefore, people should be able to resume their daily activities immediately. However, as microdermabrasion works on the outer surface of the skin, there can be a few minor skin-related issues:

  • After the treatment, the new skin typically appears pink and dry, which usually fades away after 24 hours.

  • The health care professional can prescribe or recommend medications to manage discomfort after treatment. Healing generally happens within seven to ten days.

  • After one or two days, the treated skin sometimes feels like a minor sunburn which usually fades away within hours.

  • Mild tenderness, swelling, or bruising can occur after treatment.

What Are the Side Effects of Microdermabrasion?

Microdermabrasion involves minimal side effects. Most people experience no adverse effects.

Common complications from microdermabrasion include the following:

  • Mild tenderness, swelling, and redness.

  • Eye irritation can occur if the abrasive crystals come in contact with the eye.

  • More risk of autoinoculation of viral skin infections, including molluscum contagiosum and reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus (HSV) in an affected dermatome.

  • The skin becomes susceptible to sun damage for a couple of days after the treatment as the procedure involves stratum corneum removal.

  • Minor bruising can also occur with the suction process during the treatment.

How to Take Care of Skin After Microdermabrasion?

The following steps can be beneficial in protecting skin post microdermabrasion:

  • Use mild cleansers and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.

  • Avoid wearing makeup right after treatment. Apply cosmetic products at least 24 hours after the procedure.

  • Avoid exposure to sunlight for a couple of days after the procedure. The treated skin can be more sensitive to the sun in the few weeks after the treatment.

  • Use a moisturizer for dry and flaky skin.

  • Keep the skin supple and hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

  • Avoid using topical treatments for acne for at least 24 hours after treatment. They may cause a burning sensation if applied to the skin immediately after a microdermabrasion treatment.

  • Avoid touching or picking the skin.

  • Discontinue using exfoliating agents for at least one week.


Microdermabrasion is an FDA-approved nonsurgical procedure that has various cosmetic and aesthetic benefits. Although it has minimal side effects, some people may experience swelling and redness immediately after the treatment. Therefore, post-microdermabrasion care is essential for faster recovery. Always consult a healthcare professional to discuss the benefits and risks of microdermabrasion before undergoing it.

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Dr. Jain Vicky Ghewarchand
Dr. Jain Vicky Ghewarchand

plastic surgery-reconstructive and cosmetic surgery


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