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Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are two procedures which have been extensively used to soften scar contours, treat severe acne or post-surgical scars, and assist in achieving better outcomes in several reconstructive surgical procedures on the face and neck.

Dermabrasion consists of removing the superficial layers of the epidermis by scraping the skin with a sharp tool such as a diamond fraise, wire brush or even sterile sandpaper.

This is done to the level of the depth of the scar to be treated. The resulting wound is then covered with ointment or a dressing and treated carefully for a few weeks so that natural healing may occur by the ingrowth of epidermal cells from the adjacent normal skin.

The skin appears raw and red immediately after the procedure, and the swelling may persist throughout the period of early healing. However, the normal facial coloration is normally achieved by about 12 weeks.

Dermabrasion cheekbones. Image Credit: Vagengeim / Shutterstock

Dermabrasion – Medical or Cosmetic

Dermabrasion is undoubtedly a surgical procedure and is therefore practiced only by a plastic surgeon trained in cosmetic surgery, to optimize the results and avoid undesirable effects such as hyperpigmentation after the operation.

Any procedure which goes beyond the most superficial levels of the epidermis falls into the category of a medical rather than a cosmetic treatment, even if it is intended to remove cosmetic blemishes such as scars or wrinkles.

As such, only licensed physicians, medal of honor allied assult patches either dermatologists or plastic surgeons, registered nurses, or physician assistants may perform it, and that too under medical supervision.


Dermatologists are doctors who have trained to take care of the largest organ in the body; the skin. Their practice also includes treating conditions of the hair, nails and mucous membranes of the nose, mouth and eyelids.

Some of the diseases they treat include acne, paronychia, dystrophy of the nails, and eczema. In addition, dermatologists also help patients to correct the appearance of their skin, hair and nails.

They may help minimize the effects of photodamage, age spots, wrinkles, acne scarring, and also help restore cosmetic appearance after reconstructive surgery.

A dermatologist fulfils the following basic criteria to earn a degree in this subject:

  • A college degree
  • Medical school
  • A year of internship
  • A residency program of 3 or more years in dermatology
  • If desired, board certification which attest to the physician’s knowledge, skill and experience. Board recertifications are now required every 10 years to keep specialists in the field up to date.

Plastic Surgeons

Plastic surgeons are also medical professionals who have trained to perform reconstructive surgery.

Their aim is to restore or improve both the form and function of the operated body part (such as with a cleft palate or a disabling scar), rather than just a cosmetic alteration which changes the appearance of a functioning body part (cosmetic surgery).

Dermabrasion is part of the cosmetic surgery arsenal, which demands further training in cosmetic surgery, which also includes tummy tucks, hair restoration or breast augmentation procedures.

Most plastic surgeons have completed at least 6 years of residency programs after completing basic medical training.


  • https://www.capphysicians.com/microdermabrasion-who-may-perform-procedure
  • http://dlr.sd.gov/cosmetology/education_electric_file.aspx
  • http://www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-72600_72602_72731_72864-365130–,00.html
  • https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/why-see-a-dermatologist
  • http://www.howtobecome.com/how-to-become-a-dermatologist
  • http://study.com/plastic_surgeon_education.html
  • http://learn.org/articles/Plastic_Surgeon_Become_a_Plastic_Surgeon_in_5_Steps.html

Further Reading

  • All Dermabrasion Content
  • What is Dermabrasion?
  • Dermabrasion Research
  • What is Microdermabrasion?
  • Dermabrasion During Pregnancy

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Written by

Dr. Liji Thomas

Dr. Liji Thomas is an OB-GYN, who graduated from the Government Medical College, University of Calicut, Kerala, in 2001. Liji practiced as a full-time consultant in obstetrics/gynecology in a private hospital for a few years following her graduation. She has counseled hundreds of patients facing issues from pregnancy-related problems and infertility, and has been in charge of over 2,000 deliveries, striving always to achieve a normal delivery rather than operative.

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