Dermabrasion is used to remove damaged skin. This allows healthy, smoother skin to grow in its place.
Multiple Facial Injuries Treated with Surgical Dermabrasion
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Dermabrasion is done to help repair damaged skin. The procedure may help to renew skin by encouraging new skin growth. Dermabrasion may be used to treat the following skin conditions: Benign tumorsChickenpox
Surgical scarsScars resulting from accidents or diseaseTattoosAge (liver) spotsWrinkles
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Temporary side effects such as:
ScarringRednessSwellingFlare-ups of acne or tiny cystsIncreased or decreased color in the skinIncreased sensitivity to sunlight
cold sores if done on the face
Less common complications such as:
Permanent scarringLasting rednessProlonged loss of color in the skin.Infection
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as: SmokingDrinkingChronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity
Dermabrasion is not recommended if you have: Active herpes, bacterial infection, or sores
Current or recent use (less than one year) of
isotretinoinSkin, blood flow, or immune disorders that could make healing more difficult
Your doctor may: Do a complete health evaluation and a skin examRecommend an antiviral medication if you have a history of herpes infection
Give you a prescription for
and/or a skin lightening cream
Photographs will also be taken before and after surgery. This will help to see the changes.
A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area. A numbing spray may also be used. If the amount of work is extensive, you may need general anesthesia. In this case, you will be asleep.
A sedative medication may be given to help you relax.
The area of skin will be cleaned and the anesthesia will be applied. A motorized tool with a wheel or brush will be used. The tool with be passed over the skin. Each pass will remove a certain amount of skin. The process will continue until the damaged area is level with the rest of the skin.
An ointment or dressing will be applied to the area.
The length of time depends on the size of the area to be treated. It can range from a few minutes to 90 minutes.
Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Healing normally takes 7-10 days. A steroid medication may be prescribed to reduce swelling and improve healing.
Proper care will also help you heal. Steps may include: Adjust your daily activities until your doctor says it is safe to resume them.Avoid sun exposure. After peeling has stopped, use sunscreen every day.Go to follow-up visits as advised by your doctor. They are important to monitor the skin's healing and regrowth.
At first, the area will bleed. After it heals, the skin should appear smoother and blend into the surrounding skin. Results are long lasting.
During your procedure, the staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing their handsWearing gloves or masksKeeping the treated area moist by changing the ointment and dressing on the wound
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as: Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the sameReminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masksCleaning the skin several times a day and gently removing crusting that develops during healingNot allowing others to touch your skin
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsSwelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the treatment siteSkin redness or loss of color that does not go awayPain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Dermabrasion. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.asds.net/_PublicResources.aspx?id=536&terms=dermabrasion. Accessed September 18, 2014.
Dermabrasion. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermabrasion.html?sub=Dermabrasion%20procedural%20steps. Accessed September 18, 2014.
Harmon CB. Dermabrasion.
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Roy D. Ablative facial resurfacing.
Dermatol Clin. 2005;23(3):549-559.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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