- Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive procedure that buffs away the top layer of skin, inducing a reparative response that results in improved smoothness, firmness and elasticity.
- The improvements provided by at-home microdermabrasion are limited and not immediately noticeable, but become more apparent after multiple sessions.
- DIY microdermabrasion is more convenient and cost-effective than professional microdermabrasion procedures, but produces less dramatic results.
- At-home microdermabrasion kits offer safety comparable to that of professional microdermabrasion treatments.
Exfoliation sloughs away dead skin cells, debris and oil from the surface of the skin to unclog pores, boost circulation and encourage cell turnover, among other benefits.
Microdermabrasion is a type of physical exfoliation that rejuvenates the skin. This procedure provides the same benefits as exfoliation but goes one step further by stimulating the growth of a new, smooth layer of skin.
In-office microdermabrasion procedures performed by professionals typically offer the best results, as at-home machines are less powerful. However, they can be a safe and affordable at-home alternative.
How Microdermabrasion Works
Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive cosmetic procedure that does not require sedation or anesthesia, and typically lasts 30–60 minutes. During this procedure, the stratum corneum, the skin’s top layer, is buffed away with several passes of a handpiece.
The handpiece used for in-office procedures abrades the surface skin with either a diamond tip or a jet of fine aluminum oxide crystals. At the same time, a vacuum attachment suctions away dead cells and debris.
This process triggers a reparative response in the body and stimulates the production of collagen, one of the proteins responsible for skin’s firmness and elasticity. As a result, the stratum corneum is restored and rejuvenated, becoming thicker with improved contour and texture.
DIY microdermabrasion handpieces use either a diamond tip or a moisturizing cream made of aluminum oxide crystals to exfoliate the skin. The suction attachments are typically less powerful than the ones used by professional treatments.
Pros and cons of DIY microdermabrasion
Microdermabrasion at home is a more convenient and cost-effective solution for those seeking to avoid the travel and expense associated with multiple in-office sessions. As with professional treatments, DIY microdermabrasion can treat all areas of the body and is safe for all skin tones and types.
However, microdermabrasion kits do require practice and skill to handle them effectively, and instructions can sometimes be difficult to follow. At-home machines also provide less immediate results, and typically require a number of treatments before improvements are noticeable.
|Microdermabrasion kits||Convenient; no traveling|
Cost-effective; priced about the same as 1 or 2 professional treatments
Treats the same conditions as professional microdermabrasion
|Requires practice; instructions can be hard to follow|
Results take longer to appear and are less dramatic
More similar to an exfoliating scrub than professional microdermabrasion
Vacuum suction is less powerful
Candidates for DIY At-Home Microdermabrasion
At-home microdermabrasion can address the same range of issues as in-office microdermabrasion, but the results will be modest. With this in mind, at-home machines are best suited for treating superficial issues in generally healthy skin.
Some conditions that can be treated with at-home microdermabrasion include:
- Photoaged skin, or skin damage caused by sun exposure
- Signs of acne, such as whiteheads, blackheads and minor scarring
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Hyperpigmentation, melasma and age spots
- Scars, including acne scars
- Enlarged pores
- Stretch marks
Who should avoid microdermabrasion at home?
Although at-home microdermabrasion is a gentle procedure, individuals should avoid DIY microdermabrasion if they:
- Have taken oral isotretinoin within the past six months
- Are prone to scarring, especially keloid or hypertrophic scarring
- Have rosacea or telangiectasias
- Are experiencing an active acne breakout or skin infection, such as herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, human papillomavirus (HPV) or impetigo
- Are allergic to aluminum
- Are pregnant
Fortunately, many alternatives to microdermabrasion are available, depending on the specific skin concern, needs and budget.
How to Perform Microdermabrasion at Home in 4 Steps
Before trying microdermabrasion at home, read your kit’s instruction booklet or manual; failing to do so may cause damage to your skin.
Step 1 – Cleanse
Cleanse to remove any surface debris or impurities from your skin. Be sure to use a cleanser formulated for your specific skin type that it is free of harsh chemicals or comedogenic oils.
Step 2 – Use the microdermabrasion kit
Pull back the skin of your treatment area so that it is taut. Begin passing the microdermabrasion handpiece over your skin in an upward circular motion, being careful not to pass over the same area of skin more than twice.
Repeat this process across other treatment areas.
Step 3 – Apply cosmetic products
Apply a gentle toner to the treated area immediately after a session to restore your skin’s pH level. Follow with a moisturizer to prevent any irritation and dryness.
Step 4 – Aftercare
Microdermabrasion, at home or otherwise, requires no downtime after a session. However, the removal of the stratum corneum causes skin to be sensitive to the sun. Be sure to apply sunscreen to protect your skin for the length of time it takes to heal.
At-home microdermabrasion tips
Depending on the specifics of your kit and the area you’re treating, at-home microdermabrasion procedures typically take about 5–10 minutes. Some machines include a timer functionality that alert you when you should move the handpiece to a new area.
To avoid clogging your pores, ensure the skin care products you apply after DIY microdermabrasion are noncomedogenic. Avoid applying products with fragrances to the treated area, as this may cause skin irritation.
Before and Afters of At-Home Microdermabrasion
How Often Should You Perform Microdermabrasion at Home?
Performing at-home microdermabrasion too frequently can remove an excessive amount of skin, causing your skin to become sensitive, irritated and red. Be sure to limit your use of at-home microdermabrasion kits to no more than once per week to avoid these side effects.
If your skin shows signs of irritation after your first treatment, it is advisable to maintain two-week intervals between sessions. Once your skin’s texture begins to show signs of significant improvement, you can maintain its condition with monthly at-home sessions.
Efficacy of DIY Microdermabrasion
Although microdermabrasion is a popular skin rejuvenation technique, little research has been conducted on its efficacy. Even less research has been carried out on the viability of at-home microdermabrasion treatments.
The few studies that have been conducted show microdermabrasion to have a clinically significant effect in rejuvenating the skin. Research also shows at-home microdermabrasion is an effective exfoliation method that can improve the condition of rough skin, although it is demonstrably less efficient than in-office procedures.
How microdermabrasion at home compares to professional treatments
Professional microdermabrasion procedures have several advantages over at-home microdermabrasion kits.
One strong advantage is that the procedure is performed by an experienced dermatologist or esthetician. The procedure is conducted in a specialized environment with more powerful tools than those included in at-home kits, and specific measures are followed to ensure equipment is thoroughly sterilized before each session.
With an at-home kit, you are responsible for performing the procedure correctly, and maintaining your tools and the cleanliness of your environment.
Professional microdermabrasion procedures can also be combined with other treatments, such as chemical peels, to enhance their efficacy. At-home alternatives do not allow for this combination of treatments.
Professional procedures provide much more immediate results; at-home kits tend to require a number of treatments before showing improvement. However, professional microdermabrasion still requires several treatments to provide long-lasting improvements to skin texture.
In general, 6–12 procedures are needed to achieve ideal results in a professional setting. After the initial period, as with at-home microdermabrasion, ongoing monthly treatments are required to maintain these results.
Consumers who have tried microdermabrasion at home generally express satisfaction with their results, particularly after seven or eight treatments. For many, the convenience, ease-of-use and low cost of microdermabrasion kits makes them an attractive alternative to in-office treatments.
Some users, however, have expressed dissatisfaction with the comparably mild effects of at-home microdermabrasion devices. Dissatisfied consumers report that their device’s results are no more impressive than the results they obtain through their usual exfoliation routines.
If you have a refined exfoliation routine that consistently provides a beneficial effect for your skin, you may choose to avoid at-home microdermabrasion machines and simply maintain your regular routine.
How to Choose an At-Home Microdermabrasion Machine or Kit
There are a number of factors to consider when selecting and at-home microdermabrasion kit. Kits may vary significantly in price, as well as in the range of tools and features they provide.
Consider the type of handpiece included in the kit. Diamond-tip handpieces last longer and may provide deeper exfoliation. In contrast, kits containing aluminum oxide creams may require more clean up and cause more irritation.
Ensure your at-home kit contains a suction device with adequate suction pressure. Ideally, your device should provide between 16 inHg and 28 inHg of suction pressure to effectively vacuum debris from your skin.
Lastly, before buying a microdermabrasion kit, consider what accessories are provided. Some kits may include multiple device tips, replacement filters or other accessories. Kits with fewer accessories may be less expensive, but will require you to spend more money on replacement parts in the long term. Other features, such as LED screens and mirrors, may also make a certain product more attractive than another.
Some at-home microdermabrasion machines are hand-held and battery-operated, while others are intended to be set down on a surface and plugged into a power outlet. Keep your lifestyle, preferences and comfort level in mind when determining which type is right for you.
DIY microdermabrasion is considered a safe and gentle treatment. Potential side effects include mild tenderness, swelling or bruising. You may also notice the appearance of small, dark red blotches; these indicate bleeding beneath the skin, and are called petechiae. In most cases, these side effects will clear up within hours of appearing.
Microdermabrasion can sometimes trigger flare-ups in users with chronic skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema, or dormant viruses such as herpes or HPV. If you have a chronic skin condition that causes irritation, inflammation or open sores, be sure to speak with a dermatologist before undergoing any microdermabrasion procedure, professional or otherwise.
Cost of Microdermabrasion at Home
The cost of microdermabrasion kits ranges from $50 for smaller hand-held devices to over $300 for high-end, near-professional machines. In contrast, professional microdermabrasion treatments cost $75–$200 per session.
Considering the total cost of multiple professional treatment sessions, at-home microdermabrasion machines offer a cost-effective alternative.
Microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliation procedure that resurfaces the skin by triggering the body’s wound healing process. The result is a renewed outer layer of skin with a smoother appearance. Microdermabrasion can reduce the visibility of signs of aging, acne, scars and blotchy pigmentation.
Microdermabrasion at home offers a viable alternative to in-office and salon treatments, with the tradeoff of limited efficacy and less dramatic, immediate results. However, microdermabrasion kits are more affordable than in-office procedures.
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