Also known as dermaplaning or dermablading
Wrinkles and fine lines on the face can be troubling for many people, which is why there are several cosmetic procedures dedicated to reducing these signs of aging. Facial lines can be caused by drinking, smoking, sun exposure, or genetics. Dermabrasion and dermaplaning (dermablading) are two ways of treating wrinkles, acne scars and other skin blemishes. These treatments have a shorter recovery time than some of the more invasive procedures, like a facelift.
When to Consider Dermabrasion
- If you have fine lines around the eyes, nose mouth or cheeks.
- If you are frustrated with signs of aging that make you look older than you feel.
- If you have small facial scars caused by acne, chicken pox or a previous injury.
- If you have brown spots or blotches on the skin.
The purpose of dermabrasion is to intentionally "injure" the skin so that good scar tissue will replace bad scar tissue, thus reducing or eliminating skin blemishes and wrinkles. Typically, surgeons use a small tool that features a rapidly spinning wheel with a roughened surface, not unlike fine-grained sandpaper. This tool is rubbed on the skin, removing its upper layers—it's similar to skinning your knee. Dermabrasion is most often used to treat acne scars and other facial blemishes and it's particularly useful for those who have vertical wrinkles around the mouth that often cause lipstick "bleed." This procedure can be performed on a small area of skin or the entire face.
Dermaplaning / Dermablading
Dermaplaning or dermablading is very similar to dermabrasion, though the tool that your plastic surgeon will use is slightly different. For this procedure, the surgeon uses a tool known as a dermatome, which often resembles an electric razor. Instead of being fitted with a sandpaper-like surface, this tool is equipped with small blades that "skim off" the top layers of the skin. Dermaplaning/dermablading may be better-suited for those who have deeper acne scars or wrinkles on the face, but like dermabrasion, it can be performed on a single area or the entire face.
Your surgeon will provide thorough pretreatment instructions, answer any questions you may have, take a detailed medical history, and perform a physical exam to determine your fitness for surgery.
In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Apply special ointments or gels to your skin.
- Stop smoking before undergoing surgery to promote better healing.
- Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
- Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
Dermabrasion and dermaplaning/dermablading are usually performed on an outpatient basis. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you at least the first night following surgery.
What can I expect on the day of treatment?
Your treatment may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Most dermabrasion or dermaplaning/dermablading procedures take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or more depending on the amount of skin being treated.
- Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure.
- Local anesthesia is typically used, though some doctors may use a numbing spray or general anesthesia, depending on patient and doctor preferences.
- For your safety during the surgery, various monitors will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
- Your surgeon will follow the treatment plan discussed with you before surgery.
- After your procedure is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored.
You will probably be permitted to go home after a short observation period unless you and your plastic surgeon have made other plans for your immediate post-treatment recovery.
It's important to choose your surgeon based on:
- Education, training and certification
- Experience with dermabrasion
- Your comfort level with him or her
Members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery are experienced and qualified to perform your aesthetic procedure. Learn how to select a surgeon.
After finding a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area that is experienced in performing dermabrasion or dermaplaning/dermablading, you will need to make an office appointment to set up your consultation. Generally, because of the in-depth nature of the consultation, there is a cost associated with the initial visit.
Your initial appointment with your plastic surgeon will give him or her a chance to evaluate the skin blemishes you wish to have treated. Your surgeon will discuss what options may work best for your needs and preferences. This will also be a time for you to ask any questions you may have about the options available. If you decide to go forward with the procedure, your doctor will provide you with directions for skincare and treatment in the weeks to come.
You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your complete medical history. This will include information about:
- Previous surgeries
- Past and present medical conditions
- Allergies and current medications
Based on your goals, physical characteristics and the surgeon's training and experience, your surgeon will share recommendations and information with you, including:
- An approach to your treatment, including the type of device or combination of devices to be used and the number of treatments anticipated.
- The outcomes that you can anticipate.
- Your financial investment for the procedure.
- Associated risks and complications.
- Treatment location options.
- What you need to prepare for your treatment.
- What you can expect to experience after treatment.
- Show before and after photos of cases similar to yours and answer any questions.
For a general list of questions to ask your surgeon about his or her background, find out about plastic surgery safety and to plan your procedure, visit the Planning Toolkit.
We developed these questions to help you:
- Make the most informed and intelligent decisions about your procedure.
- Confirm that you have the right surgeon for your procedure.
- Make your initial consultation as rewarding as possible.
- Understand your options, potential outcomes and risks.
It is important for you to take an active role in your treatment, so please use this list of questions as a starting point for your initial consultation.
- Am I a good candidate for dermabrasion?
- Are the results I am seeking reasonable and realistic?
- Do you have before-and-after photos I can look at for the procedure I am undergoing?
- Will there be scarring or discoloration?
- Will a local anesthesia be used during the procedure?
- What will be the costs associated with my treatment?
- What will you expect of me to get the best results?
- What kind of recovery period can I expect and when can I resume normal activities?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How are complications handled?
- What are my options if the cosmetic outcome of my surgery does not meet the goals we agreed on?
Your surgeon will discuss how long it will be before you can return to your normal level of activity and work. After surgery, you and your caregiver will receive detailed instructions about your postsurgical care, including information about:
- Normal symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complication
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare and Recovery (Planning Toolkit).
Immediately after dermabrasion or dermaplaning
You may have a sensation similar to a "skinned knee" feeling on the treated area. It's likely that the treated area will be red or swollen. The area may tingle for a while, and it's not uncommon for some scabbing to occur. Your doctor will provide you with information on how to treat the skin – often, it's like treating a mild burn. You may be prescribed an ointment to help with any pain following the procedure.
When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some pain. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, redness and swelling are normal or a sign of a problem.
Recovery time frame after dermabrasion or dermaplaning
It will take seven to 10 days for new skin to begin forming, but your skin may maintain a red or pink hue for up to a month after the procedure. Typically, this skin coloration can be covered up with camouflage makeup. Within six weeks, the redness and pinkness will subside, and you'll begin to see the full results of your procedure. Immediately after your surgery, it may be necessary for you to avoid any strenuous activity, heavy lifting or straining. Eating or drinking may be difficult depending on the area treated. Deeper treatments may require you to take a break from your normal activity for one to two weeks, while more superficial treatments will take less time for recovery.
It is vitally important that you follow all patient-care instructions provided by your surgeon. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the normal symptoms you will experience and any potential signs of complications. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
Depending on the depth and length of your treatment, results will vary; however, you can expect your skin blemishes to be reduced or eliminated for a relatively long time following the procedure. That being said, it's important to remember that your skin will continue to age over time - meaning new blemishes may form while those that were removed with dermaplaning/dermablading or dermabrasion could return. Ask your plastic surgeon to give you an outline of how long you can expect results from your treatment to last.
Maintain a relationship with your aesthetic plastic surgeon
For safety, as well as the most beautiful and healthy outcome, it's important to return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up evaluation at prescribed times and whenever you notice any changes in your skin. Do not hesitate to contact your surgeon when you have any questions or concerns.
The cost of these procedures varies from doctor to doctor and from one geographic area to another.
See the national average for physician fees per procedure.
These numbers only reflect the physician/surgeon fees last year and do not include fees for the surgical facility, anesthesia, medical tests, prescriptions, surgical garments or other miscellaneous costs related to surgery.
Because dermabrasion and dermaplaning/dermablading are elective surgeries, insurance does not cover these costs. Many surgeons offer patient financing plans to make the procedure more affordable.
Choose your surgeon based on quality, training and experience—not cost.
See why ASAPS members are widely recognized for upholding the highest standards in the area of aesthetic plastic surgery by viewing their basic credentials, training, and certifications.
Fortunately, significant complications from dermabrasion or dermaplaning/dermablading are infrequent. Your specific risks for these procedures will be discussed during your consultation.
All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Some of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
Other risks specific to dermabrasion or dermaplaning/dermablading are outlined below:
- Dermabrasion may cause some skin issues for people who are prone to frequent herpes simplex infections. To prevent fever blisters, your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral medication.
- Occasionally, patients may experience changes in the pigmentation of their skin following either of these procedures. Bleaching creams prescribed by your doctor can help treat this symptom.
- You may experience thickened skin after your recovery from dermabrasion or dermaplaning/dermablading. Cortisone treatments can help the skin return to normal.
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your board-certified plastic surgeon, both before and after your treatment.This article was originally published for Smart Beauty Guide and was legally licensed