Our last topic was exfoliation so I thought it would be good to discuss microdermabrasion this month.
Microdermabrasion was developed in Italy in 1985 and is simply a much deeper form of exfoliation which ideally should be performed by a medical doctor or licensed aesthetician.
It involves the application of tiny rough grains to buff away the surface layer of the skin. This treatment as already mentioned is best performed by a medical personnel however, there are some home microdermabrasion systems in the market today.
Recalling our previous topic, I described the skin and its layers, topmost layer being the stratum corneum. All of the action of microdermabrasion takes place at the level of the stratum corneum. It is painful and potentially dangerous for the procedure to be applied down to the layer of the dermis.
The top layer of the skin, the stratum corner is home to many minor skin imperfections such as fine wrinkles and blemishes and most beauty procedures target the removal of these imperfections by scraping/ scrubbing/ melting away the top layer of the stratum corneum.
Since all of the action of microdermabrasion takes place on the top layer of the epidermis it would have been more accurate to call it micro-epidermabrasion. As mentioned, affecting the deep layers would risk permanently embedding the tiny grains into the skin and this will be extremely harmful.
Microdermabrasion is applied with a special tool and the principle behind it is, if you remove or break up the stratum corner, the body interprets this as a mild injury and rushes to replace the lost skin cells with new healthy ones.
This tool shoots a stream of tiny crystals like Aluminium oxide, Sodium Chloride or Sodium bicarbonate, and then collects the leftover dead skin cells and used crystal by vacuum action. There are newer tools in the market that use a diamond-tipped wand on the skin instead of a stream of particles.
The vacuum action of the machine has four main functions which include; pulling and raising a small section of the skin to work on, creating a mild swelling and bringing some of the impurities to the surface, shooting a steam of crystals across target skin patch and finally, collecting the used crystals and dead skin for disposal.
The technician preps the client by performing a cleansing facial on the skin first, then maps the facial skin into regions and systematically treats the areas section by section. It may be necessary to go over a section several times before moving on to the next area for treatment. A good technician maintains a steady even pressure throughout the process.
In the first hour after treatment, there is mild edema (swelling) and erythema (redness), and may last for an hour or as much as two days depending on the individual.
This is an example of a basic microdermabrasion unit, the wands mentioned earlier are the tools you can see hooked on the side. Most Units come with different sized wands for treating smaller areas like the crease of the nose and under the lips.
The vacuum tubes are attached to the wand and the tube to a pump which then applies the suction pressure as the wand is passed over the skin.
The beneficial effects of this procedure can be quite dramatic or subtle depending on the client. With the stratum corneum gone, the skin’s surface is improved. The healing process brings with it newer skin cells that look and feel smoother. Some of the skin’s visible imperfections like sun damage, blemishes, discolouration and fine lines are removed.
Also, without the Stratum Corneum acting as a barrier, medicinal creams and lotions are more effective because more of their active ingredients and moisture can find their way down to the lower layers of the skin.
As Microdermabrasion temporarily removes some moisture from the skin, it is always followed by the application of rich moisturising creams.
Early studies suggest that repeated microdermabrasion treatments at regular intervals may influence the way the lower layers of skin grow, also acting to remove deeper blemishes over time. Some evidence seems to indicate that the rapid loss of skin moisture may be what triggers the lower skin layers to work overtime in speeding healthy cells up to the surface.
Regular treatments over a period of time is the best way to get the maximum benefit of the process. Your therapist will recommend some exfoliating/moisturizing creams and preparations to be used in between treatments to get the best results.
Microdermabrasion also works especially well as a way to clean out clogged pores. It is a useful alternative for patients too sensitive for preparations like Retin-A.
There are a few contra indications for the procedure and these include clients suffering from Fragile capillaries, vascular lesions, Widespread Acne, Herpetic lesions, Warts, Open sores, Skin lesions, Eczema, Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Lupus, anticoagulant therapy, Erythematosus and Diabetes Mellitus.
This procedure has gained popularity as an alternative to surgical face lifts and other more invasive procedures.
However, it must be noted that as with anything involving removal of top layers of the skin. Skin of colour is prone to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) so it is important to go to a doctor or trained aesthetician; do not be shy to ask about their qualifications.
The cost of these treatments vary depending on who you go to but generally about $100 to $200 per session in America. I charge N15,000 in my practise and can go as low as N10,000 per session when booking for multiple sessions.
Microdermabrasion as with any other treatment to obtain flawless skin; patience and consistency is paramount. Permanent results takes time to achieve so I would not recommend just one microdermabrasion treatment, a minimum of five sessions or more depending on the severity of your blemishes.
As the skin is more vulnerable during these treatments, more meticulous use of sunscreen is required.
Till next time, keep putting your best face forward.