Dermabrasion is a technique that uses a wire brush or a diamond wheel with rough edges (called a burr or fraise) to remove the upper layers of the skin. The brush or burr rotates rapidly, taking off and leveling (abrading or planing) the top layers of the skin. This process injures or wounds the skin and causes it to bleed. As the wound heals, new skin grows to replace the damaged skin that was removed during dermabrasion.
Things that affect the depth of the resurfacing include how coarse the burr or brush is, how quickly it rotates, how much pressure is applied and for how long, and the condition and features of your skin.
The face is the most common site for treatment, but other areas of the skin can be treated this way. Dermabrasion is used most often to improve the appearance of Reference acne Opens New Window scars and fine lines around the mouth. It also may be used to treat an enlarged nose (Reference rhinophyma Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window) caused by Reference rosacea Opens New Window, an inflammatory skin condition.
How it is done
The areas to be treated are cleaned and marked. A local anesthetic (such as lidocaine) is usually used to numb the skin before treatment, and ice packs are applied to the skin for up to 30 minutes. A freezing (cryogenic) spray may sometimes be used to harden the skin for deeper abrasions if the anesthetic and ice packs do not make the skin firm enough. For deep abrasions, or if the entire face is going to be treated, you may need stronger anesthesia, pain killers, sedation, or Reference general anesthesia Opens New Window.
One small area at a time is treated. The freezing spray (if needed) is applied for a few seconds and then the rotating burr or brush is used to take off the top layers of skin. Gauze is used to stop any bleeding, and the area is covered with a clean dressing or ointment.
Dermabrasion is almost always done in your doctor's office or on an Reference outpatient Opens New Window basis.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: July 31, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Keith A. Denkler, MD - Plastic Surgery