What Is The Difference Between Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion: Benefits

Dermabrasion vs Microdermabrasion Feature Image

These days, plastic surgery is no longer the only option if you’re looking for skin rejuvenation or scar removal solutions as there are other skin treatment methods such as dermabrasion and microdermabrasion for skin resurfacing procedures.

Skin resurfacing procedures (even without the use of plastic surgery) are able to remove the upper layers of the skin to stimulate the natural healing process. The skin care procedure results in the growth of new layers of the skin that look and feel more youthful and vibrant. Thus, even when the skin is smooth, clear, and even, resurfacing procedures could enhance the appearance.

Skin resurfacing not only includes a variety of surgical resurfacing techniques but also encompasses numerous non-surgical treatments. The two common forms of skin resurfacing as mentioned earlier are Dermabrasion – which is a surgical procedure (though, it’s not to the extent of a plastic surgery method), and the nonsurgical – microdermabrasion. If you’d like to read more about what is microdermabrasion, you can click the link to find out.

Surgical resurfacing treatments should only be performed by cosmetic surgeons, while nonsurgical types can be effectively administered by nurses or aestheticians. While the credentials required to perform skin resurfacing treatments vary from state to state, or from one country to another, it’s prudent to choose a provider who is licensed for his or her position and is very experienced in the procedure.

What is Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a skin sanding process [1] that employs an abrasive device to produce controlled skin damage. The skin care device used could either be a rapidly rotating wire brush, an abrasive screening, or a diamond-encrusted wheel. The choice depends on the anatomical location as well as the particular area to be treated. The resulting wound heals 5 to 10 days with a scar that is much smoother than the previous one.

Dermabrasion is typically used to rejuvenate skin for those with scars, acne pits, coarse wrinkles, rhinophyma, actinic keratoses, and other skin conditions. Since dermabrasion is a surgical procedure, it is performed by physicians and requires local anesthesia.

During the skin care procedure, doctors use a refrigerant spray to reduce the movement of the skin. Before undergoing the procedure, patients should tell their doctor about any of their medications, including over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements. Some of these could increase bleeding risk or adversely darken your skin, so the doctor may ask them to stop taking it.

Doctors also often recommend that patients stop smoking for a few weeks before and after your treatment as it decreases blood flow to the skin and slows the healing process. Sun exposure should also be avoided two months before the procedure, and while the skin is healing as it can lead to skin discoloration.

Benefits of Dermabrasion Treatment 

Improves your skin contour as a new layer of skin replaces the treated surface, resulting in a new youthful-looking skin. It heals without evidence of residual scarring. It also helps treat:

  • acne scars
  • age spots
  • fine wrinkles
  • precancerous skin patches
  • rhinophyma, or redness and thick skin on the nose
  • scars from surgery or injury
  • sun damage
  • tattoos
  • uneven skin tone

Dermabrasion vs Microdermabrasion? Woman Pondering While Touching Her Own Face

Side Effects of Dermabrasion Treatment 

  • Darker-skinned individuals are more likely to develop increased pigmentation after the procedure
  • It may also result in keloids and hypertrophic scars, especially in patients with a genetic predisposition to it
  • Patients recently treated with isotretinoin are often asked to avoid it for at least six months due to the potential for keloid formation and delayed wound healing
  • It involves fairly significant pain and discomfort
  • There is longer recovery time, typically 10-14 days
  • There are long-term risks, including infection, permanent changes in skin color, and scarring
  • Dermabrasion is relatively invasive and requires the use of local or general anesthesia
  • The skin will also remain red/pink, swollen, and irritated throughout the healing period [2]

Dermabrasion vs. Microdermabrasion

Both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are common forms of outpatient skin resurfacing procedures. The primary difference between both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion is resurfacing intensity. While microdermabrasion removes dead or dying skin cells, dermabrasion goes more in-depth to remove layers of the dermis that are alive.

Dermabrasion provides a more dramatic result and is done for more severe skin issues, such as deeper wrinkles, intense pigmentation, acne scarring, etc. It is a surgical procedure and administered by physicians. Anesthesia is required.

Microdermabrasion is safe for most people as it does not produce any significant damage to the skin. However, patients with an active skin disease such as acne should not receive treatment to the affected skin. Since it is a non-surgical procedure, it is often administered by nonphysician professionals, and no anesthetic is required.

Which treatment should you choose?

The treatment you should choose largely depends on the severity of your skin issues, skin type, health, personality, and budget. Those with serious skin problems such as fine lines, sun damage, acne scars, and uneven texture could only find solutions with dermabrasion.

However, dermabrasion is generally suitable for those with fair skin as it causes scarring and discoloration for people with darker skin. Microdermabrasion works on all skin types and colors.

Impatient people may feel inconvenienced with the lengthy “downtime” for healing required by dermabrasion, as well as the significant amount of pain and discomfort they may experience.

In microdermabrasion, the skin fully recovers within 24 hours. Since dermabrasion is a surgical procedure conducted by physicians and which requires anesthetics, it is more costly than microdermabrasion cream treatment.

Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion - Woman Receiving Treatment On Her Face

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do dermabrasion results last?

Dermabrasion results approximately last for 5 to 10 days. The scab will heal and transform into a reddish area, which subsequently diminishes to a healthy skin tone. The time required for the pinkness of your skin to fade may vary but will likely take about three months to fade.

Does dermabrasion remove wrinkles?

Yes, dermabrasion removes wrinkles. A freezing spray is first used to numb the wrinkled skin in the treatment. The doctor then removes the wrinkles in the numbed area using a special brush, which allows the healthy skin beneath to replace it. The new skin typically appears smoother and refreshed.

Is microdermabrasion the same as dermabrasion?

No, microdermabrasion is not the same as dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure (once again, not the same method as plastic surgery) that produces substantial changes in the appearance of the skin by injuring it in a controlled manner using an abrasive.

It is typically used for maximum skin rejuvenation in cases involving scarring, acne pits, coarse wrinkles, rhinophyma, actinic keratoses, and other skin conditions. It is performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons and requires anesthesia. 

While microdermabrasion is a nonsurgical procedure that affects only the superficial dead layer of the skin. It is often administered by nonphysician professionals, and no anesthetic is required.

What does a dermabrasion facial do?

A dermabrasion facial removes the outer layers of skin that results in a much smoother surface.

Is Microdermabrasion Good For Your Skin?

Yes, microdermabrasion is good for your skin as it rejuvenates skin resulting in improved skin tone and texture.


Science has provided a number of remedies for those who wish to improve their appearance without the use of plastic surgery. Before choosing to undergo any of those procedures, including dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, be sure to balance the risks and benefits.

Discuss your goals with your service provider, who should be appropriately certified in his or her field of specialization, and have sufficient experience with the procedure. Make sure to disclose any past cosmetic procedures and surgeries (plastic surgery included), as well as allergies and medical conditions.

Always follow your doctor’s advice and attend follow-up appointments. Lastly, remember to take before and after photos as a basis for comparison in making sure that you achieve your goals.

Additionally, you may also read the other comparison articles I did below: