Microdermabrasion gets under your skin

Posted on December 21st, 2009 by Gina

girl-in-bed-of-rose-pedals460If you are a man or woman considering microdermabrasion to eliminate those fine lines or acne scars, there are two things two keep in mind: You want it hard and you want it rough.

Microdermabrasion is the buffing of the skin with the grains of diamond (the hardest substance on earth) or aluminum oxide crystals. Like sandpaper, the buffers come in coarse grit, medium grit or a light grit. The process sloughs away layers of skin to make way for new skin to emerge. Having your face sanded in this way (do NOT try this at home after a trip to the hardware store) is also found to stimulate collagen production, a key protein for younger-looking skin.

In an article published in the Archives of Dermatology in October, University of Michigan researchers found that rougher the buffing the more effective in achieving the desired results.  According to the website Skin Inc., “the researchers found that the course-grit diamond increased the production of compounds associated with wound healing and skin remodeling. These included cytokeratin 16, which helps skin heal after injury.” They also found that getting a little rough produced antimicrobial peptides that fight infection as well as producing other substances that promote collagen production.  These changes didn’t occur when the medium-grit was used, nor was collagen production consistent when a wand with aluminum oxide crystals was used.

Microdermabrasion is one of several ways of reducing fine lines, “crow’s feet” and acne scars, in that group with laser resurfacing and chemical peels. It is generally considered a “lunch break” procedure because, for most people, it is relatively quick with no downtime needed afterward. It usually requires more than one treatment to be effective though, ranging in cost from $70-$250 per treatment.  Laser resurfacing and the harshest peels, which are more effective for severe scarring and deeper wrinkles, leave you wanting to wear a large brown paper bag over your head for weeks afterward.

The leader of the University of Michigan study, Dr. Darius J. Karimipour, an assistant professor of dermatology at UM, said his team was looking for ways to make microdermabrasion more effective and find out what stimulates the most collagen.

One way to make the process more effective is to use it in conjunction with a chemical peel. Having a peel first will make a gentler microdermabrasion as effective as a rough and hard session without a peel.

In 2008, microdermabrasion ranked as the 6th most popular cosmetic procedure overall, right behind laser resurfacing and chemical peels. This 2009 study shows that if this is what you’re opting for, it pays to have your surgeon get a little rough.

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