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March 15, 2018

What is microdermabrasion, and how does it work?

Microdermabrasion uses a minimally abrasive instrument—either microparticles or a diamond-tipped wand—to gently buff the skin, removing the topmost layer. A vacuum then sucks up the exfoliated skin cells. My aesthetician had a diamond-tipped wand. After a thorough cleansing to remove my makeup, she pressed the wand to my face and began slowly sweeping it across my cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. It felt rough, a bit like highly dulled sandpaper, but it wasn't at all painful. While she abraded my skin, the vacuum attached to the wand simultaneously sucked up dead skin cells. She also applied the wand to my neck and décolletage.

What are the benefits?

Microdermabrasion removes pore-clogging, complexion-dulling dead skin cells, revealing a new layer of fresher, smoother skin underneath. The process may also boost collagen production and help firm up wrinkles over time. I personally noticed that my skin looked brighter for several days afterward.

However, microdermabrasion typically doesn't offer dramatic results. For that, it's best to have a physician perform dermabrasion, a deeper resurfacing treatment that reaches down to the dermis and requires a local anesthetic.

How much does microdermabrasion cost?

Microdermabrasion cost can vary significantly depending on the experience of the technician, the method used, and whether you purchase multiple sessions at once (which typically yields a discount). All these factors considered, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 per session.

If you're interested in the treatment but leery of the cost, consider searching Groupon for deals on microdermabrasion, which can save you up to 90%.

How long does the procedure take?

Most treatments last about 30 minutes. Microdermabrasion can also be incorporated into a longer facial service, during which it removes skin to help serums penetrate more deeply.

Watch a microdermabrasion treatment in action in this helpful video:

Can I get a chemical peel at the same time?

Because both chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments remove the topmost layer of skin, they should not be performed at the same time. They can, however, be performed a few weeks apart.

Is there any downtime?

The skin may have some redness and swelling after a microderm treatment, but it should subside within a few hours. Later, the skin may be flaky and dry for several days. My face turned pink immediately during my service, though the flush did go away by the time I changed out of my robe and into my street clothes. The next day, I noticed some flakes, but it was nothing some extra moisturizer couldn't handle.

Do you have to go to a spa or can you perform microdermabrasion at home?

Generally, getting a professional treatment is more effective than using a microderm machine by yourself at home, partly because the aesthetician performing the spa service has extensive skincare knowledge. Nonetheless, an at-home treatment can effectively exfoliate faces to keep skin softer, smoother, and brighter. You just have to make sure you keep the machine extremely clean to prevent bacteria from getting into freshly abraded skin.

Have you tried microdermabrasion? Tell us about your experience in the comments: