Understanding At-home Microdermabrasion Systems - Cosmetics Sept./Oct. 2005
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Understanding At-home Microdermabrasion Systems

By Alix Fuller 

A.F.: What’s the difference between microdermabrasion and a facial peel? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Microdermabrasion is a superficial way of removing the dead skin layers on the face using crystals of aluminum, salt or even corn husks. Chemical facial peels, on the other hand, are usually done with a liquid, gel or mask using a number of chemicals, the most common of which are glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid. 

A.F.: How does microdermabrasion work? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Crystals or granules are applied on the surface of the skin using a gentle rubbing motion. It’s similar to a face or body scrub – there might be different sized granules or particles, but they essentially do the same thing. 

A.F.: How deeply does it penetrate? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Not deeply at all. Usually, it only affects the stratum corneum part of the epidermis. 

A.F.: What results would you expect to see? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Since dulling dead cells are removed, the skin reflects light more evenly which we see clinically as more of a “glow” or a more even skin tone. It’s very important to remember that one of the functions of the stratum corneum is to protect the skin from UV exposure. After stratum corneum cells are removed by microdermabrasion, the skin is more sensitive to the sun and I strongly recommend extra sun protection. 

A.F.: How long do the effects generally last? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: In general, because the treatment only affects the dead skin cell layers, as long as it takes for the skin to turn over that layer (a few weeks). 

A.F.: Who are the best candidates for at-home microdermabrasion? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Individuals with concerns regarding the appearance signs of aging (fine lines, brown spots) who have thicker skin types. If you have sensitive, thin skin; slow to heal skin; or suffer from a concurrent skin disease or infection you should exercise caution. And, be careful if you’re using topical vitamin A, vitamin A derivatives, or if you have a history of facial cold sores. 

A.F.: Is a teenager too young to perform at treatment? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: No, and they might benefit from a gentle microdermabrasion system if they have acne. However they should understand how to use the system properly and go easy, because too aggressive use can cause irritation and aggravate acne. 

A.F.: Do you see at-home microdermabrasion products using newer and newer technology? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Yes. As technology advances, there will likely be more sophisticated products on the market for home use. 

A.F.: Is there a trend to putting clinical ingredients into at-home products? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: There is a trend to using more clinical ingredients, along with more “natural” ingredients. However, the most effective ingredients are classified as drugs and require a physician’s prescription. 

A.F.: Any caveats you’d pass on to someone considering using an at-home product? 
Dr. Lisa Kellett: Do consult your dermatologist if you have any other skin concerns, significant photo-aging, severe acne or suspicious skin lesions.

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