Dermatologists often use the terms “abrasion” and “dermabrasion” interchangeably. But what are the differences between these two medical procedures? Abrasion is a procedure that removes the outer layer of skin to improve acne scarring, stretch marks, or other skin discolorations. It can be performed at home using a dermabrasion kit or in a doctor’s office with a more advanced instrument called an abrasive microdermabrasion machine.
Dermabrasion is a more aggressive version of abrasion that removes layers of skin up to 0.5 mm thick. It is typically used to treat scars, wrinkles, or other blemishes caused by sun damage or aging.
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What is the difference between abrasion and dermabrasion
Even the most skincare savvy among us may be confused by the differences between dermabrasion and microdermabrasion. After all, they practically share the same name and can both be effective skin resurfacing procedures. Here, we’re breaking down the two treatments in terms of invasiveness, technology, and what aesthetic concerns each address to help you understand which might be the best choice for you.
Dermabrasion vs. Microdermabrasion
Yes, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are similar in theory, but they are very different in reality. “While both sound similar and are resurfacing procedures that damage the skin in a specialized manner to improve it, they are otherwise pretty dissimilar,” says New York City-based board certified dermatologist Blair Murphy-Rose, MD. Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion differ greatly in their intensity, depth of skin damage and, therefore, in the results, downtime, and associated risks.
In a nutshell, dermabrasion is the mechanical removal of the epidermis and upper layer of the dermis. Microdermabrasion, meanwhile, is a minimally invasive treatment option that exfoliates the surface of the skin. While microdermabrasion is suitable for all skin types, dermabrasion is best for people with lighter skin — usually Fitzpatrick skin types I through III, explains Jennnifer Levine, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in NYC.
Now that we understand the differences between the two, it’s time to explore the ins and outs of each.
Dermabrasion is a surgical method that uses a high-speed rotary tool to abrade the skin in order to resurface it, Dr. Murphy-Rose says. She likens the device to a “sanding-like” tool that can penetrate deep into the skin. “Layers of skin are essentially removed down into the upper dermis and then, through the natural healing process, a new layer of healthier, smoother skin replaces them,” she adds.
The procedure typically requires local or general anesthesia and comes with one to two weeks of downtime. High-quality dermabrasion can reduce deeper wrinkles, lines, pigmentation, and other textural abnormalities (like scars), explains Jessica Weiser, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC. But it’s not without risk. “Dermabrasion carries risk of infection, discoloration, and scarring,” she says.
POPULAR TYPES OF DERMABRASION
Dermabrasion can be performed with a motor-powered diamond fraise, wire brush, or serrated wheel. Alternatively, it can be done manually using a medium-grade drywall sanding screen. “Dermabrasion rapidly planes the skin surface,” Dr. Weiser explains. The tool used will likely depend on what you are trying to treat. “The wire brush is best used for deeper scars and irregularities, whereas the fraise and wheel are typically utilized to soften the edges of skin removed by the wire brush,” Dr. Weiser says.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM DERMABRASION
Prior to dermabrasion, you’ll be treated with pain medication, local anaesthetic for nerve blocks, and, on occasion, general anesthesia. “Eyes are covered to protect from possible spray, and the skin is sometimes treated with gentian violet stain to monitor how deep the treatment is extended,” Dr. Weiser shares. “The skin is held taut and then abraded, leading to a raw skin surface and some bleeding.”
You can expect significant redness, swelling, and moderate pain (managed by pain medication). Bleeding may also occur after treatment. “As the area heals, scabbing or crusting will occur and the redness and swelling will eventually subside over one to two weeks,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says. “You will need to follow your doctor’s instructions and take very good care of your skin during the healing process to prevent infection.” You’ll also want to ask your doctor when it’s safe to go into the sun again. “During the healing process, you should avoid all exposure to sunlight on the treated area,” she says. Most doctors will also advise avoiding strenuous exercise for about a month post-procedure.
While dermabrasion lives at the invasive side of the aesthetic procedure spectrum, microdermabrasion falls at the other end. “Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive procedure that removes the dead skin cells from the epidermis to help exfoliate the skin surface,” Dr. Weiser explains. It does not, however, reach the viable skin cells of the lower epidermis and superficial dermis. Microdermabrasion can improve superficial skin concerns such as fine lines, brown spots, and enlarged pores, Dr. Murphy-Rose says.
Microdermabrasion, which is generally considered painless and involves little to no recovery time, can be done with a diamond or crystal tip tool. “A handheld device sprays tiny crystals onto the skin causing light skin abrasion or exfoliation to the outermost ‘dead’ skin cells with minimal discomfort, no real downtime, and without the need for anesthesia,” Dr. Murphy-Rose explains.
There are also over-the-counter skincare devices with microdermabrasion in their names. These are exfoliators designed to mimic the benefits of the in-office procedure at-home — albeit in a less intensive manner.
POPULAR TYPES OF MICRODERMABRASION?
Microdermabrasion is best suited for younger skin. It can also be a helpful treatment option for acne-prone skin types. The most common forms of microdermabrasion include:
- Crystal Tip: “Crystals are sprayed on the skin surface and a vacuum-based tip suctions up both dead skin cells and loose crystals,” Dr. Weiser says. It’s best for acne because the crystals also have antibacterial properties.
- Diamond Tip: This technique involves a tip made from natural or synthetic diamond chips with attached suction. “The diamond abrades the dead skin cells which are removed by the vacuum-based suction,” she notes.
- Dermasweep: A gentler vacuum pump with a silk, nylon, or polyester bristle-tipped head is used to allow for greater customization.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM MICRODERMABRASION
Unlike the seven to 14 days of downtime associated with dermabrasion, there is little to no downtime with microdermabrasion. “There is a mild scratching sensation over the skin surface — sometimes in single or repeated passes — depending on the skin type,” Dr. Weiser says. Post-treatment, your skin may appear pink or red. Dr. Levine likens it how the skin looks after a scrape. “Any procedure or product that causes exfoliation will make you more sensitive to the sun, so excellent sun protection is essential,” Dr. Murphy-Rose advises. She recommends applying mineral sunscreen daily and wearing a hat and sunglasses after microdermabrasion. Other tips? Skip washing your face the day of. In the following days, opt for a gentle cleanser and moisturize liberally. “You can otherwise go about your regular routine without limitations,” Dr. Murphy-Rose says.
Which Procedure Is Best for You?
Generally speaking, microdermabrasion can be an effective treatment option for patients with acne, pore congestion, and oily skin. At lower settings, it can be used for drier skin types as well. “Very sensitive skin does not respond well to microdermabrasion, and treatment should also be avoided in patients on Accutane therapy where the skin surface is very fragile,” Dr. Weiser notes. It is also not a good choice for patients with rosacea, eczema, and lupus because the treatment stimulates blood flow to the skin, which can worsen certain skin conditions.
Dermabrasion, meanwhile, is best suited for those with significant textural abnormalities such as scarring, wrinkles, and sun damage. It can be used to treat small areas with deep wrinkles (think: lines around the mouth). “These wrinkles are hard to treat and need a treatment that will go deep enough to fully address the wrinkle,” Dr. Levine explains. As such, it is also good for scars and acne scarring. Additionally, someone who has failed to achieve desired results from fractional laser resurfacing may be a candidate.
But it’s not for everyone. “Because it can go deep, it may lead to the stimulation of melanocytes, causing the cells to produce more or less pigment,” Dr. Levine notes. Therefore, it is not recommended for people with darker skin. “Darker skin types may be more prone to adverse effects like pigmentation changes, and anyone prone to keloid formation should avoid dermabrasion,” Dr. Murphy-Rose explains. “Any underlying medical conditions causing poor wound healing would be a contraindication to treatment.
Forehead lift without surgery
Help! My Eyebrows are Drooping
Have you ever pulled your brows up slightly toward your hairline and thought, “Wow, I look so much better!” Everything goes south as we age, including our brows. If you’re noticing you look a little more tired than usual when you look in the mirror, you’re not alone. At a certain age, usually in our 40’s and 50’s, you’ll see a difference in where your brows used to be positioned and where they are now. It’s called the ‘Droopy Brow’.
In addition to your brows drooping or sagging, you’re probably noticing a few more lines across your forehead and some laxity on your upper eyelids and brow line. You see, our brows, forehead, and upper eyelids are all connected, and as they begin to droop, you begin to look tired or look older than you feel. Another sign of a droopy brow is when your brows start to look flat instead of the raised arch you once had. Technically, your brow line should be positioned just above your orbital or eyebrow bone.
What are my options?
There are several ways to combat facial aging of the upper face, including injections, minimally invasive procedures, surgical and non-surgical. The first is through plastic surgery. The surgery is known as an eyebrow lift or a forehead lift, and it’s been popular for decades. But now, there are also non-surgical and less invasive ways of treating your aging issues. We’ll go over all your options to make an informed decision on what’s right for you.
1. SURGICAL Brow Lift
If you want to restore the bright, wide-eyed look of your younger days, reduce forehead wrinkles, and reduce the 11’s between your eyes, a surgical eyebrow lift may be good to achieve it. There are several techniques for the procedure. Your plastic surgeon might use different size incisions and different incision placements based on how you’ve aged and your facial anatomy.
While thousands of brow lifts are performed successfully every year, surgery isn’t for everyone, and many people feel like they don’t have the time to spend in recovery mode. If you do decide on surgical options, you need to be aware of the potential risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, some of the possible health complications with brow lift surgery include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Loss of hair around the incisions
- Elevated hairline
- Facial asymmetry
- Facial nerve injury with weakness or paralysis
- Poor wound healing
- Possibility of revision surgery
- Unfavorable scarring
Recovery time for a brow lift is between 1-2 weeks. Depending on your type of work, you may return as early as 1 week. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided for 2 weeks after the surgery.
2. NON-SURGICAL Brow Lift
Another option for restoring your brow placement and reducing wrinkles is with a non surgical brow lift procedure using the latest technology in ultrasound. In the past, ultrasound procedures have been painful and provided minimal results. But with the newest, FDA cleared ultrasound technology, Sofwave can revitalize the skin without surgery and dermal fillers.
Sofwave is performed in a physician’s office, using topical numbing creme, and it takes only about 30 to 45 minutes to complete.Patients can immediately go home, go out to dinner, put on makeup, basically do whatever they need to do without any worries. In clinical studies, 88% of patient’s appearance was marked as “improved” or “significantly improved” 12 weeks later after just one treatment.
Here’s how the process works… The Sofwave device heats the mid-dermal tissue at the right depth and temperature to rejuvenate collagen fibers and improve aging skin’s overall appearance. This collagen stimulation is a non surgical brow lift. In addition to upper face rejuvenation, it is also used on the lower face and neck. And best of all, it’s safe for all skin types and colors.
One of the world’s experts in non-invasive rejuvenation is Dr. Jason Pozner, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boca Raton, Florida. He says patients today are looking for results from a single treatment, and that’s what Sofwave can offer.
Dr. Jason Pozner
Pozner says, “Sofwave’s technology is different from the earlier versions of ultrasound treatments where many patients complained of the pain involved, and some patients, around 20 percent, said they didn’t see any significant difference in their skin.”
Sofwave is faster, gentler and you can typically see desired results after only a couple of treatments.
3. MINIMALLY INVASIVE Thread Lift
An eyebrow thread lift is considered a minimally invasive procedure, and it can tighten your eyebrows sagging skin and wrinkle and lift them, to achieve a more youthful look. Just as the name implies, physicians insert a small needle and dissolvable thread under the skin, thread it up and attach it in an inconspicuous location such as the hairline. Some threads have tiny barbs that hook into the tissue allowing the thread to ‘pull up’ your underlying tissues form.
As the threads dissolve after about six months, they create new collagen in the area. The procedure is relatively quick and not too painful. However, this procedure is only temporary, and you will most likely need additional treatments. Threads can cause some soreness, bruising, swelling, and puckering of the skin, but most people can go back to their natural activities within a week.
Which treatment is right for you?
When asked, most people will say they would prefer to go the non surgical brow lift route if possible. They’re busy, they don’t want to spend time recovering, and they want to get back to their everyday life sooner than later.
Contact your doctor for the initial consultation to help you determine which non surgical brow lift procedure is best for your droopy brows!
Temporal brow lift
Developing wrinkles and fine lines are not the only signs of facial aging. Aging can affect your brow and forehead regions as well. You will see that with age, your brow will droop down, causing you to look much older and tired as time goes on.
If you’re not happy with the look of your brow, you can undergo a surgical procedure known as a brow lift. There are different types of brow lift techniques depending on one’s own specific needs, but the temporal brow lift has the least risks and minimal recovery time.
What is a Temporal Brow Lift?
A temporal brow lift, also known as the lateral brow lift, includes the process of making changes in the forehead area while lifting the eyebrows at the same time. It is used to correct the outer one-third position of your eyebrow while giving the eye a very attractive look.
The Different Types of Brow Lift Surgeries
The different types of brow lift surgeries include a coronal lift, endoscopic lift, trichophytic lift, transblepharoplasty brow lift, non-surgical brow lift using neurotoxin (Botox, Dysport), and the temporal brow lift.
There are two other brow lift techniques that are not very popular due to the huge scars left behind by the incisions used. These techniques are now limited to patients suffering from severe eyebrow asymmetries caused due to trauma or facial nerve paralysis.
Temporal Brow Lift – Procedure
A temporal brow lift is mostly performed along with eyelid surgery but can be performed on its own as well. The procedure involves the surgeon making approximately one-inch incisions behind the hairline, just above the forehead.
The underlying tissue of the brow area is then lifted and repositioned for the desired results. The procedure will require only local anesthesia.
The Benefits of the Temporal Brow Lift Surgery
A temporal brow lift has a number of great benefits that include: has innumerable benefits unlike other brow lift surgeries as it involves the least risk with good results. The benefits include:
• A refreshed, vibrant, and aesthetically appealing look.
• Minimal Downtime and less risks.
• Hidden post-surgical marks since the incisions are made behind the hairline.
• The end-result can last for years.
Temporal Brow Lift – Recovery
After the surgery is completed, there is no need to spend even a night at the hospital. In fact, you can carry on with your normal daily activities within a week. The heavily sagging eyebrows will be gone after you heal completely. You will instead have perfectly positioned eyebrows.
Other brow lifts like trichophytic and endoscopic brow lifts, on the other hand, leave behind bruises that last for approximately ten days.
Temporal Brow Lift vs Other Brow Lifts
Your surgeon is the best person to talk to to determine the correct brow lifts for you. This will depend on your preferred look and type of brows, which includes your hairline. Temporal lift is best for those whose medial brow is in a good position and the lateral brow is flat or downsloping. It helps in improving the aesthetics of the eye.
However, there is no doubt that the lateral or temporal brow lift is the safest among all brow lifts as it involves less risk and shorter healing time.