What Is Microdermabrasion, and Can It Give You Better Skin?
When I first started working at Groupon, I spent countless hours writing deals for intriguing spa treatments: Vampire/PRP facials, laser liposuction, and the wildly popular skin-resurfacing service known as microdermabrasion. The latter was particularly interesting to me as I learned in my research that it deeply exfoliates skin, removing the dead cells that can clog pores and lead to acne, something I've struggled with. It also seemed way less intimidating to me as I had only been to a spa twice before (injecting your face full of your own blood's plasma à la the Vampire facial seemed like a 5th or 6th spa visit kind of thing). So I decided to get a Groupon for a med spa in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood and headed there to learn just what is microdermabrasion.
I had a lot of other questions going in and wasn't shy about asking the aesthetician to explain the procedure to me. This is what I learned.
What is microdermabrasion, and how does it work?
Microdermabrasion uses a minimally abrasive instrument—either microparticles or a diamond-tipped wand—to gently buff the skin, removing the topmost layer. A vacuum then sucks up the exfoliated skin cells. My aesthetician had a diamond-tipped wand. After a thorough cleansing to remove my makeup, she pressed the wand to my face and began slowly sweeping it across my cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. It felt rough, a bit like highly dulled sandpaper, but it wasn't at all painful. While she abraded my skin, the vacuum attached to the wand simultaneously sucked up dead skin cells. She also applied the wand to my neck and décolletage.
What are the benefits?
Microdermabrasion removes pore-clogging, complexion-dulling dead skin cells, revealing a new layer of fresher, smoother skin underneath. The process may also boost collagen production and help firm up wrinkles over time. I personally noticed that my skin looked brighter for several days afterward.
However, microdermabrasion typically doesn't offer dramatic results. For that, it's best to have a physician perform dermabrasion, a deeper resurfacing treatment that reaches down to the dermis and requires a local anesthetic.
How much does microdermabrasion cost?
Microdermabrasion cost can vary significantly depending on the experience of the technician, the method used, and whether you purchase multiple sessions at once (which typically yields a discount). All these factors considered, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 per session.
If you're interested in the treatment but leery of the cost, consider searching Groupon for deals on microdermabrasion, which can save you up to 90%.
How long does the procedure take?
Most treatments last about 30 minutes. Microdermabrasion can also be incorporated into a longer facial service, during which it removes skin to help serums penetrate more deeply.
Can I get a chemical peel at the same time?
Because both chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments remove the topmost layer of skin, they should not be performed at the same time. They can, however, be performed a few weeks apart.
What are the benefits of microdermabrasion in comparison to chemical peels?
Microdermabrasion and chemical peels both can improve skin tone, texture, and clarity. A chemical peel's effectiveness depends on the strength of the acid being used. Most spa peels are about as effective as microdermabrasion. Peels performed at med spas and dermatologists, on the other hand, tend to be stronger, removing more skin for more noticeable benefits. For more information, read our guide to chemical peels.
Is there any downtime?
The skin may have some redness and swelling after a microderm treatment, but it should subside within a few hours. Later, the skin may be flaky and dry for several days. My face turned pink immediately during my service, though the flush did go away by the time I changed out of my robe and into my street clothes. The next day, I noticed some flakes, but it was nothing some extra moisturizer couldn't handle.
Do you have to go to a spa or can you perform microdermabrasion at home?
Generally, getting a professional treatment is more effective than using a microderm machine by yourself at home, partly because the aesthetician performing the spa service has extensive skincare knowledge. Nonetheless, an at-home treatment can effectively exfoliate faces to keep skin softer, smoother, and brighter. You just have to make sure you keep the machine extremely clean to prevent bacteria from getting into freshly abraded skin.
What are microdermabrasion reviews like?
Here's what customers from some of our top merchants had to say about the treatment:
"First time doing microdermabrasion. The aesthetician was thorough and already noticed a huge improvement in the luminosity of my skin. Can't wait to go back in two weeks!!" - from Erika S.'s review of Luxe Blue Laser & Med Spa in Chicago
"Amazing from reception to my aesthetician. I was my first diamond tip microdermabrasion but it won't be my last. They were insightful & made me feel very comfortable with the procedure. My skin was glowing 30 minutes later. Must try." - from Monica G.'s review of Deify Laser & Beauty Lounge in New York
"My first microdermabrasion with this facility. Nella was nice, my face feels great!" - from Linda T's review of Arizona Laser & Skin in Phoenix
Have you tried microdermabrasion? Tell us about your experience in the comments:
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.