Anyone tried microdermabrasion?
May 21, 2005 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone tried microdermabrasion - performed by a certified plastic surgeon or at home? Please tell me if it worked and was worth the cost.

I finally found a treatment to clear up my acne, but I still have scars. I'm considering microdermabrasion, which would be a big investment for me. (I don't want to spend more than $500, so lasers are out of the question.) I'm skeptical of home treatment that claims to do the same thing - but if anyone's had a good experience with such a product, I'd like to hear about it, too. I haven't had much luck with the online reviews.
Thanks in advance!
posted by sophie to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total)
I've heard it can do magic for postpartum stretch marks (the reddish kind), literally magic. but there are a lot of possible risky side effects. since the procedure it's so delicate I suggest that, being on a budget, you have to be really sure the doctor is very, very good.
otherwise, I'd sit it out. it can do a lot of damage if performed incorrectly. a friend of mine did it, but only with the best plastic surgeon she could get. it can end up doing a lot more bad than good
posted by matteo at 2:30 PM on May 21, 2005

Home microdermabrasion systems are meant to clarify dull skin, not remove scars. The level of peel required for scar removal is too deep for at-home use.

There are many variables for determining whether microdermabrasion will work for you: the type of scars you have, their severity, your type of skin, your age -- so many that you're really best off consulting a board-certified dermatologist for what should be a free evaluation. To get some additional background, register at (it's free) and read this article: You can also get information on the site about how to find a board-certified dermatologist.

I've worked with a cosmetic surgery publication, not on the business side, so I'm afraid I don't know much about pricing. If you're direct about your budget, your doctor should be able to provide you with a range of options to choose.
posted by melissa may at 2:59 PM on May 21, 2005

Microdermabrasion is a procedure done in salons and spas and you don't need much training to do it. Thats because it doesn't really do much other than make your face feel nice and soft for a few days. Its fairly expensive and I doubt - at the end of the day - much better in the long term than using any other kind of low level physical or chemical exfoliants.
Dermabrasion on the other hand is serious business done by a doctor that really freaking works. It also runs upwards of 1000 bucks and takes weeks if not months to recover.
Save your money for awhile and go talk to a cosmetic dermatologist. Something that is really going to work is going to cost you - be it dermabrasion, lasers or some of the more serious peels that only doctors can do..
In the mean time use as many products with alpha and beta hydroxy acids in them as your face can handle. They stimulate cell turnover which - over some time - will fade some of your scars.
posted by Wolfie at 5:00 PM on May 21, 2005

For the last six months I've been using the Susan Lucci Youthful Essence Microdermabrasion system. I have very sensitive skin, prone to breaking out on the forehead. You get a 'resurfacing tool', which is battery operated with foam pads, and the microdermabrasion cream, which contains the crystal exfoliant.

This product has worked well for me. My skin is brighter and more radiant, and my breakouts are much less frequent. I don't have any acne scarring, so can't help you with that aspect. But my experience of the product is good. It's succeeded where other products have failed in sorting out my sensitive skin. I also use a good moisturiser, the best I can afford, either Lancome Hydra Zen or one from Darphin.

[A tip: Buy it on eBay. If you buy it from the official website you have to join a 'club' where, want/need it or not, they send you a new pot of the stuff every few weeks. The eBay stuff is usually brand new surplus pots sold by people who have bought from the club.]
posted by essexjan at 5:04 PM on May 21, 2005

Just curious: What worked to clear up your acne?
posted by bonheur at 6:09 PM on May 21, 2005

I've done microdermabrasion. I would NEVER, repeat NEVER have it done at a salon. I had mine done at a plastic surgeon's office. They have better hygiene and stronger solutions they can use. BTW, it ended up being cheaper than the fancy salons. Nice results, but you have to keep doing it and sometimes it takes several treatments.
posted by 6:1 at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2005

Have you tried amything like Mederma (or other scar treatments)? It wouldn't be the one-shot fix that microdermabrasion seems to be, but it would probably be a lot cheaper.
posted by elisabeth r at 6:48 PM on May 21, 2005

6:1 - I'm curious about your treatment. I've had micro-dermabrasion done at 5 or 6 different spas both here in SF and in New York and there is nothing about it I can imagine requiring anything beyond normal hygiene. Its a wand that shoots what is essentially sand connected to a vacuum that sucks the stuff up as it goes. When you say stronger solutions - are there bigger/stronger/sharper crystals they can shoot you with? I never had results much better than just getting a good facial - but if there is some super micro-dermabrasion that plastic surgeons do - I'd be interested in learning more.
posted by Wolfie at 9:09 PM on May 21, 2005

I've been using 40% glycolic peels (which is a bit of a misnomer, there's no peeling of skin at this level) and copper peptides at home for about 6 months on my acne scars. I'm pretty happy with the way things are progressing. It's slow, but I've had these things for awhile and I'm in no rush.
posted by 4easypayments at 9:28 PM on May 21, 2005

4easypayments, where did you get your glycolic peels?

Great question, may I tag on a rider? Anyone tried laser resurfacing?
posted by stray at 10:07 PM on May 21, 2005

Wolfie--I am on Retin A for acne and general "keep my face looking good as long as I can" reasons. The esthetician has told me she learned much about cleaning her instrumentation and her skills since she started working for him. (I work in surgery, so this is very important to me.) Physicians have access to higher quality (read--stronger) chemicals than salons. They also know what is better for you and your skin type. The newest microdermabrasion machines do not use sand, crystals or salt. It's actually diamond tip of sorts. I've been told the machines that use sand, crystals, salts, whatever are the older ones and are no longer recommended for use. I have seen and heard horror stories about microdermabrasion done in salon/spas. Only mild discomfort was felt the first time, slight pinkness. The second time I had just started using a different strength of Retin A and I was quite red for a few days. The plus side to having it done at a physician's office--if I have a problem afterwards, I can call after hours. There is always someone to follow up with if I have a problem or concern that knows what they are doing. Plus, if I need RXs filled for my skin, I get it there. BTW, it costs about the same to have it done there as a salon. Facials I found were cheaper, $55 for a good facial, (this is in the Tampa area). Microderm is more expensive, but not necessarily more than getting it done at a spa. If I didn't answer your question, let me know.
posted by 6:1 at 11:52 AM on May 22, 2005

Sophie--what does your dermatologist recommend? I would go with that. Mederma generally doesn't help with the lumpy scars from severe acne.
posted by 6:1 at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2005

2 over-the-counter suggestions:

I recently tried Mary Kay's microdermabrasion and loved it. It's like a scrub you use 3 times a week and makes my skin so soft.

For acne scars, I read that Neutrogena just came out with a mask to help with just that thing.
posted by bozichsl at 4:33 PM on May 22, 2005

Response by poster: Just curious: What worked to clear up your acne?
Bactrim DS (a sulfa antibiotic) cleared up the acne - I think it was the fifth or sixth thing I tried.

Thanks for your feedback everyone. I haven't talked to my dermatologist yet, but will see what she suggests. There's a board certified plastic surgeon nearby who offers the procedure, so if I get it done I'll go to her. And I'll probably buy one of the over the counter products you guys suggested, too.
posted by sophie at 7:18 PM on May 22, 2005

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