Dermabrasion is the removal of the top layers of the skin. It is a type of skin-smoothing surgery.
Dermabrasion is usually done by a doctor, either a plastic surgeon or dermatologic surgeon. The procedure takes place in your doctor's office or an outpatient clinic.
You'll likely be awake. A numbing medicine (local anesthesia) will be applied to the skin that will be treated.
If you are having a complex procedure, you may be given medicines called sedatives to make you sleepy and less anxious. Another option is general anesthesia, which allows you to sleep through surgery and not feel any pain during the procedure.
Dermabrasion uses a special device to gently and carefully "sand down" the top surface of the skin down to normal, healthy skin. Petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment is placed on the treated skin to prevent scabs and scars from forming.
Dermabrasion may be helpful if you have:
For many of these conditions, other treatments can be done, such as laser or chemical peels, or medicine injected into the skin. Talk to your provider about treatment options for your skin problem.
Risks of any anesthesia and surgery in general include:
Risks of dermabrasion include:
After the procedure:
Protect your skin from the sun for 6 to 12 weeks or until your skin color has returned to normal. You can wear hypoallergenic make-up to hide any changes in skin color. New skin should closely match the surrounding skin when full color returns.
If your skin remains red and swollen after healing has started, it may be a sign that abnormal scars are forming. Tell your doctor if this happens. Treatment may be available.
People with dark skin are at greater risk of having dark patches of skin after the procedure.
Monheit GD, Chastain MA. Chemical and mechanical skin resurfacing. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 154.
Perkins SW, Floyd EM. Management of aging skin. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 23.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/4/2020
Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Senior Associate Consultant, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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