(Surgical Skin Planing; Skin Resurfacing)
DefinitionDermabrasion 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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Reasons for ProcedureDermabrasion 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 tumors
- Chickenpox scars
- Acne scars
- Surgical scars
- Scars resulting from accidents or disease
- Age (liver) spots
Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Temporary side effects such as:
- Flare-ups of acne or tiny cysts
- Increased or decreased color in the skin
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
- Flare-ups of cold sores if done on the face
- Less common complications such as:
- Permanent scarring
- Lasting redness
- Prolonged loss of color in the skin.
- Active herpes, bacterial infection, or sores
- Current or recent use (less than one year) of isotretinoin
- Skin, blood flow, or immune disorders that could make healing more difficult
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour doctor may:
- Do a complete health evaluation and a skin exam
- Recommend an antiviral medication if you have a history of herpes infection
- Give you a prescription for tretinoin and/or a skin lightening cream
AnesthesiaA 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.
Description of the ProcedureThe 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.
How Long Will It Take?The length of time depends on the size of the area to be treated. It can range from a few minutes to 90 minutes.
How Much Will It Hurt?Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Post-procedure CareHealing 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.
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping the treated area moist by changing the ointment and dressing on the wound
- Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Cleaning the skin several times a day and gently removing crusting that develops during healing
- Not allowing others to touch your skin
Call Your DoctorAfter arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the treatment site
- Skin redness or loss of color that does not go away
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Dermabrasion. AgingSkinNet—American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/cosmetic%5Fdermabrasion.html. Accessed September 18, 2014.
Dermabrasion procedural steps. 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. Dermatol Clin. 2001;19(3):439-442.
Roy D. Ablative facial resurfacing. Dermatol Clin. 2005;23(3):549-559.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/18/2014