Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure during which your doctor attempts to make scars less noticeable by sanding them using a small hand held tool. The end of this tool has a metal wheel which has a rough surface. When the tool is turned on, the wheel spins rapidly.

The surgeon then moves the spinning wheel gently over the surface of the scar causing the scar to be worn away. Local anesthesia is injected into the area before the treatment. When the procedure is over, the skin looks like a red brush burn or shallow wound and is tender. The wound typically takes a few weeks to fully heal.

Who is a candidate for dermabrasion?

Perhaps the most common reason for undergoing a treatment is for acne scarring. The procedure is also often performed after surgery to make a scar less noticeable. It is best if the dermabrasion is done approximately 8 weeks after the surgery.

Dermabrasion can also be used to remove wrinkles and tattoos.

How to prepare for your treatment

For two weeks prior to your dermabrasion, Retin-A .05% cream should be applied each night before bed to the skin or scar that is to be dermabraded.

Let your doctor know if you get cold sores. If you have had these in the past, you will need to take antiviral pills beginning one day before the procedure and for a few days after.

If you have taken Accutane or isotretinoin in the past two years, you should not have a dermabrasion procedure.

What about after the procedure is performed?

For ten days after the procedure, you must follow the instructions in the Wound Care sheet.

If a large area has been dermabraded, your doctor will oftentimes give you Prednisone 40 mg and pain pills to be taken for three days after the procedure.

Let your doctor know if you have an area of persistent redness lasting for 10 days after the procedure. This could be a sign that a scar is forming. The doctor will inject the area with cortisone or give you a cortisone ointment to apply to the area.

If you develop yellow crusting, let the doctor know immediately. This could be the beginning of an infection.

It is mandatory to apply a strong sunscreen, such as Shade Lotion SPF 45, to the face each morning for 3 months after a dermabrasion. This must be done to keep the skin from becoming dark and blotchy.

If you have had acne, you should take tetracycline for one month after a your procedure. Do not use Retin-A on your face for one month after your procedure.

Are there any risks involved with dermabrasion?

The skin that is dermabraded can end up looking darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. This can usually be treated, but can potentially be permanent.

Also, the scar can rarely end up looking worse. Sometimes new scars can form. In short, there is no guarantee that the procedure will not end up making you look worse, so this is something to consider before you decide to have it done.