Dermabrasion Vs Microdermabrasion: What You Need To Know Exactly

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These days, plastic surgery is no longer the only option if you’re looking for a skin rejuvenation procedure or scar removal solutions as there are other methods such as dermabrasion and microdermabrasion for skin resurfacing treatments or other laser resurfacing treatments like chemical peels.

Skin resurfacing treatments not only includes a variety of surgical resurfacing techniques but also encompasses numerous non-surgical skin exfoliation solutions for the management of different facial problems. 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 procedure which is microdermabrasion.

When it comes to dermabrasion vs microdermabrasion, you must know what your considerations are. Choosing the right procedure for you can be easily determined once your unique needs have been assessed by a professional.

What is Dermabrasion?

woman touching her face in the bath dermabrasion vs microdermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a skin sanding technique [1] that employs an abrasive device like a blade to produce controlled skin damage. The 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.

One of the earlier ways of acne scar removal, dermabrasion is typically used to rejuvenate the dermis for those with acne scars, acne pits, rhinophyma, actinic keratoses, and other skin conditions. Since this is a surgical procedure, it is performed by physicians and requires local anesthesia.

During treatment, a professional dermatologist uses a refrigerant spray to reduce the movement of the dermis. Before undergoing the skin care procedure, patients should tell their physician about any of their medications, including over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements. Some of these could increase bleeding risk or adversely darken your face, 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 removal resurfacing treatment as it decreases blood flow to the skin and slows the recovery process. Direct sunlight should also be avoided two months before the procedure and during the healing process as sun exposure can lead to discoloration. Therefore, it’s strongly recommended to wear sunscreen when out and about.

Benefits of Dermabrasion Treatment 

What the dermabrasion treatment can do for you is that it improves your skin contour as a new layer replaces the treated surface, resulting in a new youthful-looking face. It heals without evidence of residual acne scarring.

Additionally, dermabrasion also helps in treating:

  • acne scars

  • age spots

  • fine lines and wrinkles

  • precancerous patches

  • redness on the nose

  • scars from surgery or injury

  • sun damage

  • tattoos

Side Effects of Dermabrasion Treatment 

  • Scabbing occurs soon after the procedure

  • Darker-skinned individuals are at risk of developing 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 healing

  • It involves fairly significant pain and discomfort. However, your physician might prescribe pain medication to help reduce any pain

  • There is longer recovery time, typically 10-14 days

  • There are long-term side effects, including infection, permanent changes in skin color, scarring or skin irritation

  • It may cause infections, which may be treated with antibiotics

  • It is relatively invasive and requires the use of local or general anesthesia products

  • It is also characterized by redness, hyperpigmentation, swelling, and/or irritation throughout the recovery period

Contact your doctor regarding any patch or spot that seems to be growing or bleeding. Such skin growths and issues could be signs of skin cancer.

Dermabrasion vs Microdermabrasion: The Differences

blonde woman with face cream smudge on clear skin dermabrasion vs microdermabrasion

Now that you know what the dermabrasion procedure entails, let’s find out what is a microdermabrasion procedure and the differences between the two treatments. Both treatments are common forms of outpatient exfoliation procedures.


The primary difference between both dermabrasion and microdermabrasion is resurfacing intensity. A microdermabrasion wand tool is used to “sand” the targeted area and causes a steady improvement in your otherwise damaged skin by boosting collagen production, thereby making your skin complexion brighter and smoother. It will work best for problems such as dullness, age spots, and brown spots. 

Sodium bicarbonate, aluminum oxide crystals, sandpaper tip, or diamond particles are used to remove dead or dying skin cells in microdermabrasion. Dermabrasion, on the other hand, goes more in-depth to remove layers of the skin that are alive.

Dermabrasions provide more dramatic improvements and are done for more severe issues, such as deeper wrinkles, intense pigmentation, acne scars, etc. It is a surgical procedure and administered by physicians.


During the microdermabrasion facial treatment, the physician or aesthetician will spray fine crystals across the target area. This treatment works well for stretch marks and other imperfections. It also helps enhance skin texture by removing any dead cells and reducing the size of pores. 

It is safe for most people as it does not produce any significant damage to the skin. In addition, the microdermabrasion results are almost immediate. However, patients with an active skin condition such as infection or skin cancer should not receive treatment to the affected area. Since it is a non-surgical procedure, it is often administered by non-physician professionals, and no sedation or anesthetic products are required.


The average cost of an in-office microdermabrasion procedure is usually higher compared to the dermabrasion price and will vary depending on the depth and size of treatment. While microdermabrasion is typically painless and has a shorter recovery period, many women still opt for dermabrasion because of its effectiveness and lower cost of the procedure. Several crystal microdermabrasion sessions are also required to get the melasma or any other skin issues under control.

woman undergoing facial microdermabrasion treatmentWhich Treatment Should You Choose?

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

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

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

The results of microdermabrasion treatment are noticeable within 24 hours. Since dermabrasion is a surgical procedure conducted by physicians and which requires anesthetics, it is more costly than microdermabrasion cream treatment.

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 face to fade may vary but will likely take about three months to fade after acne removal treatment.

Does dermabrasion remove wrinkles?

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

Is microdermabrasion the same as dermabrasion?

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

It is typically used for maximum skin rejuvenation in cases involving scarring, acne pits, actinic keratoses, and many other conditions. It is performed alone or in combination with some other treatments by specialist dermatologists. It requires anesthesia.

While microdermabrasion is a nonsurgical procedure that shrinks pores and affects only the superficial dead layer of the skin. It is often administered by non-physician 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.

woman in white tank top clear face with freckles


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 the microdermabrasion and dermabrasion procedures, 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 way of comparison in making sure that you achieve your goals.

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