Many people suffer from the damaging effects of the sun’s ray on their skin. Regular and prolonged exposure to the sun leads to a host of skin problems like discoloration such as freckles or sunspots, wrinkles, creases and in serious cases, skin cancer. Sun exposure leaves skin looking tired and dull, which may translate to looking older. Some patients are turning back the clock and undoing the damage of the sun through a skin revitalizing procedure known as microdermabrasion.
Microdermabraision helps to repair sun damaged skin by using small aluminum oxide crystals delivered via a hand held wand to abrade the first few layers of the skin, which become clogged with dirt and makeup, or environmental pollutants. This clogging of the pores makes the skin appear dull. After the skin is abraded, the dead, sloughed off cells are suctioned away. The exfoliation of the microdermabrasion procedure stimulates the body to produce new skin cells and increase collagen production. This leaves the patient with tightened skin and a fresh, youthful appearance.
The procedure also leaves patients with smooth skin, and it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also reduces light to moderate scars, such as those caused by acne. It is especially beneficial for patients with sunspots, says Dr. Mona Alqulali, M.D., PhD., FACOG. Alqulali offers microdermabrasion and other MedSpa services to patients at her Clinton, Iowa, practice.
"Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive skin rejuvenating procedure for patients who want to freshen their appearance," Alqulali said.
While the procedure is beneficial for most patients, some patients with deep wrinkles, creases or severe acne scars will not see significant improvements. Many of Alqulali’s patients combine the microdermabrasion procedure with other skin rejuvenating therapies like chemical peels and laser skin rejuvenation. "Whether done in combination with other procedures or by itself, microdermabrasion really makes an impact on the skin’s appearance," says Alqulali. In fact, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ranks it as one of its top 5 skin procedures.
Most of Alqulali’s patients choose to have the procedure on their face, but it is also a popular choice for backs, necks and hands.
"The face is not the only part of the body that sees damage and aging from ultraviolet rays," Alqulali said.
The procedure takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the area being treated. As the procedure is noninvasive and painless, no anesthesia is required. While the majority of patients have no issue after the procedure, it is normal to have some redness afterward. Some patients experience swelling, too.
After the procedure, patients should take care to avoid prolonged sun exposure, because new skin is extremely susceptible to sun damage. Alqulali advises her microdermabrasion patients to wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor, of SPF, of at least 30. She also suggests to her patients to skip makeup for a few days following the procedure to prevent clogging new pores.
The results of the procedure are noticeable right away. Skin is smoother and tighter, and pores are reduced. Patients typically return every six weeks or so for additional treatment, which helps their skin to look great and fresh all year.
"As skin becomes clogged with dirt and debris over time, the microdermabrasion procedure helps to refresh and renew the skin," Alqulali said.
Most patients find their skin looks the best after a minimum of six treatments. Patients should use high-quality moisturizers in between procedures to maximize results and keep the skin looking great, says Alqulali. An additional benefit to the microdermabrasion procedure is the skin is able to more readily absorb moisturizers, and as a result, is more hydrated.
Patients looking for information on the microdermabrasion procedure should seek out licensed physicians who offer the treatment, and discuss their options of combining the procedure with other therapies to maximize skin benefits.