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Mechanical Exfoliation Vs. Microneedling
By: Terri A. Wojak
Posted: September 3, 2013, from the September 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
There are a variety of treatments, devices and products available to cosmetic providers for skin rejuvenation. With all of these options, it can be difficult to decipher which will prove effective and which may just be the latest gimmick. Before taking on a new service or product, it is important that you conduct your research. In order to make an educated decision, use reliable sources, including clinical studies and scientific evidence. The key to skin rejuvenation—whether it is mechanical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation, laser, light therapy or microneedling—is to maintain the health of skin structures, stimulate cellular renewal and increase the production of matrix proteins to provide a healthy appearance.
Microdermabrasion is one of the top five nonsurgical procedures performed in a medical setting, with 498,821 treatments performed in 2012 alone, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.1 Although this service was originally performed by dermatologists, it is now the most popular exfoliation method used by estheticians. Microdermabrasion refers to mechanically exfoliating the superficial layers of the skin using particles or a rough surface with the use of a tool, while simultaneously creating suction for stimulation. This technology was developed in Italy and gained wide popularity in Europe in the mid-1980s before making its way to the United States in the mid-1990s.
There are currently several methods of microdermabrasion. The original devices were developed using aluminum oxide crystals as the means of exfoliation. Although aluminum oxide works effectively for exfoliation, there has been some controversy regarding the potential hazards of ingesting the material. The use of sodium bicarbonate crystals is becoming the material of choice for crystal microdermabrasion due to its organic nature and smooth texture.
Another development that came about in 1999 is the use of a diamond-tip or particle-free microdermabrasion machine. The diamond-tip provides similar results to the crystal method, but some prefer one over the other. The diamond-tip has a lower cost of consumables and does not leave behind crystals, reducing the risk of side effects, including eye abrasions. On the other hand, there is question about the sanitation methods applied with the reusable diamond tips.
In the past decade, microdermabrasion has continued to evolve, featuring methods such as brush bristles, hydraderm—or wet microderm and dermafiling. There are machines on the market so strong that they can cause pinpoint bleeding with one pass. In contrast, some devices produce such low power that they are similar to using a mild scrub. Regardless of the type of device used, there are other details to consider, such as the strength of the treatment, the vacuum level, the speed of application by the technician, the number of passes performed and the condition of the client’s skin before the treatment.