Defining Microdermabrasion

Ask a Therapist

By Barry Eichner

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2004.

Q: I’m hearing a lot about microdermabrasion. What exactly is it and is it safe?

A: Barry Eichner is the general manager of 3000BC Day Spa in Philadelphia, Pa. He’s fielded this question more than once: “The Journal of Aesthetic Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery has hailed the results of microdermabrasion as universally positive. Physicians recommend it for everyone: Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, and Latin Americans. The treatment is non-invasive, hygienic, and beneficial for all skin types. It requires a highly specialized machine containing a vacuum pump and mineral-based crystals. A plastic tube connected to the machine is used to gently vacuum crystals over the skin’s surface. The process has a two-fold benefit for the skin: exfoliation and micro-massage.

“Exfoliation helps to produce smooth, even-toned skin. Skin naturally exfoliates, however, aging, sun exposure, poor skin care habits, even smoking all contribute to a thickening of the top layer of skin. When the skin thickens, it appears leathery. Microderm-abrasion will remove these thickened layers, resulting in softer, suppler skin. This process will also help to remove acne scars, stretch marks, and dark spots.

“As the skin is vacuumed by the esthetician (skin care professional), a micro-massage improves circulation, which stimulates the production of superficial papillary dermal collagen — the building block that results in firmer and tighter skin.

“The overall effect is skin that is firm, smooth, even-toned, and dramatically younger looking. To maximize the treatment’s benefits, look for spas that have staff with training from both the machine manufacturer and a scientific skin care line.

“Most spas recommend a series of four to six treatments for best results. Prices can range from $100 to $150 per treatment, but there is usually a discount if you purchase multiple treatments.”