by: Wendy Raycraft
The skin is the largest and most visible organ of the human body. It is also the most abused. The sun, the elements and life in general take their toll. No matter how much we try to protect it, most folks have skin problems during their lives. Most of these issues are relatively minor and can be treated with over the counter products. But sometimes it is necessary to see the dermatologist.
Dermatologists help patients deal with skin disorders and diseases. They also help treat and repair damaged skin. Though common complaints like acne and rashes still make up the bulk of their business, more and more patients are visiting dermatologists because they have skin they want to have repaired. In this article we will discuss microdermabrasion in the doctor's office and at home.
It sounds complicated, we know. But microdermabrasion is really nothing more than an intensive skin-exfoliating treatment. The process is painless and noninvasive, and it rarely involves needles or anesthetics of any kind. Since only a small, superficial layer of skin is actually removed, recovery is generally quite rapid. Microdermabrasion works best on minor skin issues that affect the epidermis, such as sun damage, age spots, acne, fine lines and minor scarring. The process is used almost exclusively on the face, though it is every bit as effective on other areas of the body.
Who needs it?
Even when it does work, microdermabrasion is only a temporary solution. In most cases, the skin will look much healthier, even rejuvenated after the stratum corneum, the top few layers of skin, have been removed. But these layers grow back in about a month, which means the treatments must be repeated at regular intervals for continued improvement. Most patients receive multiple treatments over several months. They must also stay out of the sun and use sunscreen and skincare creams on a daily basis.
The prime candidates for microdermabrasion have mild acne, dull or sallow skin, minor discoloration, or superficial lines or scarring. The procedure has not proven effective for people who have deeper acne scars or pockmarks. Though it has its limitations, microdermabrasion is one of the most popular dermalogical procedures out there. There are two simple reasons for this. It's fast and it's cheap.
However, the cost of multiple visits can add up. At an average price of around $100 per session, patients who stay on for six months often end up dropping about a thousand dollars. For many people, that is simply too much to pay for a cosmetic procedure. Fortunately, there is an alternative.
Most of the top skincare companies now offer microdermabrasion at-home kits. Like commercial tooth whitening systems, these kits contain the same chemicals used in professional treatments. Though they are generally a bit weaker than the solutions you might encounter at your dermatologist's office. But are they effective?
The average at-home microdermabrasion system includes an abrasive scrub or cream and a tool for application and removal. According to our research, the active ingredient in most of these creams or scrubs is aluminum oxide crystals, which are used by licensed dermatologists. The only real difference between the office and the at-home procedure seems to be the way the solution is removed. The professionals use a special vacuum to suck up all the dead skin cells, but the kits utilize a less expensive tool.
A small, tightly woven microdermabrasion cloth is used to remove surface cells to complete the procedure. The tool is actually quite effective. But most people don't take the time they need to thoroughly scrub the affected area and remove all of the abraded skin. Keep in mind that professional treatments typically take between 25 and 30 minutes. If you cut corners and rush through it, you may not be happy with the results.
The reason most folks choose to complete the procedure at home is because they cannot afford to go to the dermatologist. Microdermabrasion is rarely covered by traditional insurance, and the cost of multiple treatments can run into the thousands. By comparison, an at-home kit can be purchased from most drug stores for as little as thirty dollars. These kits typically contain a jar of the microdermabrasion cream or scrub, which usually provide at least twenty treatments, and the woven cloth for skin resurfacing.
As the popularity of the procedure continues to grow, some companies are offering commercial microderm machines. The average price of a new home unit is around $250. Yes, it is much more expensive than the cream or scrub alone. But it may be a good investment if you complete the procedure more than once a month. And some people do.
Microdermabrasion can be safely and affordably completed at home with the help of a quality kit. Use this quick guide to pick out a system that works with your skin.