Micro what? Microdermabrasion. This beauty procedure has a long name and sounds vaguely painful, but it’s actually one of the gentlest, fastest, non-invasive anti-aging treatments around today.
Microdermabrasion is a non-surgical facial resurfacing technique performed in a series of about 6 to 10 treatments. It mechanically exfoliates the outermost layer of dead skin cells and vacuums them away, leaving your skin feeling softer and smoother — and if done well, looking younger and more vibrant.
Microdermabrasion machines are rather expensive contraptions that use either crystals or diamonds to abrade the skin.
Crystal microdermabrasion machines consists of a compressor that draws in air through a hand-held stainless steel or glass wand. When the wand touches the skin, a vacuum is created.
The most common crystals used are aluminium oxide crystals, also known as corundum. They are second only to diamonds in hardness but are a lot cheaper.
Some studies have suggested there may be health risks associated with aluminium oxide-based microdermabrasion machines, with fears the small particles could enter the lungs if breathed in, or scratch the eyes (most microdermabrasion clinics now use eye protection for this reason).
Other crystals used in microdermabrasion are sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and magnesium oxide.
Other commonly used microdermabrasion machines use a diamond-tipped handpiece that mechanically abrades the skin and a suction system to vacuum the exfoliated particles away. You can see diamond microdermabrasion being performed in this video.
Microdermabrasion is non-invasive and recovery time is as little as one or two days.
Best of all, you can have it done during your lunch hour and go straight back to work looking pretty good for someone who has just had their skin cells vacuumed off their face (take your foundation along as your skin may be a little pink afterwards).
20 facts about microdermabrasion to wow your friends with
1. Microdermabrasion was first developed in Italy in 1985 — pasta, pizza and microdermabrasion — thanks guys!
2. There are over 100 microdermabrasion machines on the market but they all have the same basic design — exfoliate and suck up those dead skin cells!
3. Microdermabrasion has been shown to diminish fine lines, wrinkles, shallow acne scars, though results may vary from person to person.
4. Those who suffer from enlarged pores will be pleased to know microdermabrasion can help minimise pores and is great for unclogging them.
5. Microdermabrasion may decrease the appearance of superficial hyperpigmentation, age spots and other superficial skin damage caused by the sun.
6. Removing dead skin through microdermabrasion can aid in the penetration of skincare products by up to 50% and with a more even surface to work with, it allows makeup to go on more smoothly.
7. In 2009, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported there were 910,168 microdermabrasion procedures done in the US alone (176,541 of those men). It’s obviously big business, and not just in the States either.
8. Many people choose microdermabrasion over chemical peels and laser treatment because it is generally safer and more cost-effective.
9. The procedure may be a little uncomfortable but shouldn’t hurt (though skin can feel a little tender afterwards).
10. Microdermabrasion stimulates blood flow, which increases the nutrition delivered to skin cells. This improves cell production, which improves skin’s elasticity and texture.
11. Microdermabrasion temporarily removes moisture so it should always be followed by application of a rich moisturiser.
12. The best results are usually seen by people in the early stages of aging, between 35 and 50.
13. It’s not recommended if you have skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, active sunburn, herpes, lupus, open sores, psoriasis, fragile capillaries or widespread acne. Seek medical advice first.
14. While home dermabrasion kits are available, they act more like a scrub and can be quite harsh. Beware!
15. A series of 6-10 treatments is usually recommended for optimum results, with 2 weeks in between for skin to recover.
16. The entire procedure usually takes about 30 minutes for the face, longer if you want your neck and other body parts such as hands and feet done.
17. Skin will be more sensitive to sunlight afterwards so stay out of the sun or use a good sunscreen.
18. Your esthetician should be checking in with you about your comfort level during the treatment. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel like your face feels like it’s being sucked into a black hole.
19. If an esthetician uses an unskillful technique it can lead to abrasions and pin-point bleeding, which means the treatment was done too aggressively.
20. Always go to a qualified esthetician for microdermabrasion and ask them about their training, as the results you get will largely depend on their expertise.