Dermabrasion is the removal of the top layers of the skin. It is a type of skin smoothing surgery performed by Seattle's top plastic surgeons and aestheticians in Facial Plastic Surgery and the Virginia Mason Medi Spa.

What happens during dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion uses a special device to gently and carefully "sand" the top surface of the skin down to normal, healthy skin.

Dermabrasion is usually done while you are awake. Your surgeon or aesthetician will apply a numbing medicine (local anesthesia) to the area of skin that will be worked on.

If you are having a complex procedure, you may be given medicines called sedatives to make you sleepy and less anxious, or you may receive general anesthesia, which allows you to sleep through surgery and not feel any pain during the procedure.

Petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment is placed on the treated skin to reduce scab formation and scaring.

Who should have dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion may be helpful if you have:

  • Facial scars due to acne, accidents, or previous surgery
  • Fine lines and wrinkles, such as around the mouth
  • Precancerous growths (keratoses)

Alternative treatments exist for many of these conditions. Always discuss your options with your Virginia Mason provider.

Are there risks associated with dermabrasion?

Complications are uncommon but any medical procedure involves a certain amount of risk.  Risks of dermabrasion include permanent skin coloring changes (either lighter, darker, or pinker). Your Virginia Mason provider will discuss any risks associated with dermabrasion during your consultation.

What happens after dermabrasion?

Your Virginia Mason provider will likely give you antibiotics to prevent severe cold sores from forming. The skin may be treated with ointment and a wet or waxy dressing. After surgery, your skin will be quite red and swollen. Eating and talking may be difficult. You may have some aching, tingling, or burning for a while after surgery. Your provider can prescribe medicine to help control any pain.

The new layer of skin will be a little swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks. Most patients can go back to normal activities in about 2 weeks. You should avoid any activity that could cause injury to the treated area. Avoid sports that involve balls, such as baseball, for 4 - 6 weeks.

Doctors recommend that men who have this procedure avoid shaving for a while, and to use an electric razor when shaving can begin again.

Protect the skin from the sun for 6 - 12 months until your skin coloring has returned to normal. Hypo-allergenic makeup may be worn to conceal any discoloring. When full color occurs, it should closely match the surrounding skin, making the procedure virtually undetectable.

I'm interested in dermabrasion. How do I get started?

Schedule an appointment with Facial Plastic Surgery or the Medi Spa at Virginia Mason Seattle Main Clinic. Your Virginia Mason provider will help you determine if you are good candidate for this procedure.