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Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion
By: Zoe Draelos, MD, and Peter T. Pugliese, MD
Posted: June 28, 2011, from the July 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Problems can be avoided with microdermabrasion simply by carefully selecting clients and using the machine within specified operating parameters. Do not turn up the speed or suction higher than recommended. Do not continuously re-treat areas to remove more skin. Read the instructions for the recommended operation of your machine, and follow these directions to the letter. Clients wishing more dramatic results from more aggressive treatments should be referred to a dermatologist for consultation.
You should also be aware that microdermabrasion can result in the spread of disease if the equipment is not properly disinfected. Flat warts are a viral infection of the skin appearing as small pink lumps on the face, are highly contagious and could be passed client to client if the handpiece is not properly sterilized. The skin care professional can also contract flat warts on the hands by touching this client. If you notice any type of viral infection on a client’s face, do not perform the microdermabrasion and contaminate your equipment. Insist that this client see a dermatologist before providing additional treatments.
The presence of other facial infections, such as a herpes virus-induced fever blister should also preclude microdermabrasion treatments. The liquid present in the blister is highly contagious and could be spread to the hands of the skin care professional or to other clients. In general, if the client has any open facial wounds or scabbing, microdermabrasion should not be done. The wound could become infected or the infected wound could spread disease to your client’s entire face, to your hands or to other clients. Delay the microdermabrasion procedure until the client experiences complete healing in order to stop a problem before it occurs.
Microdermabrasion in skin of color
Microdermabrasion is a versatile procedure. It can be performed on people of all ages, sexes and skin colors. However, special care must be taken when using microdermabrasion in clients of color. Deeply pigmented clients, such as African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Indians, have the tendency for the skin to darken once irritated, which is unattractive and undesirable. When performing microdermabrasion on skin of color, be sure to care for the skin gently. Do not dial up the speed of the machine; use it on a lower setting at first until you better understand your client’s skin. Although microdermabrasion can smooth skin of color, it cannot lighten pigmented areas or skin color. Do not attempt to use microdermabrasion for this purpose.
Microdermabrasion off the face
Microdermabrasion can be used on any dry-skin area. It is not recommended for use around the moist areas of the body, such as the eyes, nose, mouth or genitalia. It can be used to smooth the backs of the hands, the décolleté and the neck. Skin in this area is not as forgiving, however, and can be easily scarred. Use a gentle setting on low power when performing microdermabrasion off the face. It is always possible to go back with a more aggressive treatment later when you are more familiar with the client’s skin.
Because the skin off the face is thicker, the results are not as dramatic. Areas where skin scale collects, such as the anterior shins and the tops of feet, can be nicely smoothed with microdermabrasion, but the scale will recollect quickly. Even with this type of benefit, most microdermabrasion is performed on the face.
Microdermabrasion is a versatile, safe procedure that can be rewarding both for the skin care professional and the client. The procedure can be easily incorporated as part of a professional skin care routine.
Zoe Draelos, MD, is a practicing board-certified dermatologist and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) with a research interest in cosmetics, toiletries and biologically active skin medications. She is in private practice in High Point, North Carolina, and is a consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In 1988, she founded Dermatology Consulting Services, serves on eight journal editorial boards and functions as the editor in chief of the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. She is also a member of the 2010–2011 Skin Inc. magazine advisory board.