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Dermabrasion in Dermatology


Dermabrasion has been used for a number of years to treat a variety of dermatologic conditions, including facial skin resurfacing and scar revision. The popularity of this procedure has diminished with the advent of newer procedures including chemical exfoliation, laser resurfacing, non-ablative laser resurfacing, and microdermabrasion. Dermabrasion found its niche in treating acne and traumatic facial scars, and in cosmetic facial resurfacing.

Small, portable hand-held dermabraders are the most popular units available today and are able to generate rotation speeds of 18 000–35 000 revolutions per minute. End pieces, including wire brushes, diamond fraises and serrated wheels, attach to the end of the dermabrader to allow precise resurfacing and treatment.

As with all cosmetic surgical procedures, appropriate patient selection and room preparation (with appropriate lighting and monitoring equipment) are essential to assure optimal outcomes with the dermabrasion procedure. Patients must understand all of the potential risks, benefits and limitations associated with the procedure. Patients must also be aware of alternative therapies that are available.

Dermabrasion is technique-dependent and the surgeon should be well versed on the technique prior to performing this therapy. Gentian violet solution is used to delineate the areas to be treated. Refrigerant topical anesthesia is used to freeze the skin prior to the procedure. Holding the skin taut, the dermabrasion procedure occurs in a routine manner, treating one anatomic unit at a time.

Postoperatively, patients may have an open or closed dressing system. Postoperative medical treatment is also recommended, including the use of antiviral agents, antibacterials and corticosteroids. The re-epithelialization process is usually complete in 5–7 days and residual erythema is common for up to 4 weeks. Adequate sun protection is essential following dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion has also been used in combination with other dermatologic procedures, including chemical exfoliation, soft tissue augmentation and laser procedures, to enhance the results of dermabrasion.

Dermabrasion remains a useful facial skin resurfacing and scar revision technique, particularly when performed by a trained and skilled surgeon. Most dermatologic surgeons argue that pure dermabrasion is a useful modality in skilled surgical hands and should be considered when appropriate.

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Correspondence to Michael H. Gold.

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Gold, M.H. Dermabrasion in Dermatology. Am J Clin Dermatol 4, 467–471 (2003).

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  • Intense Pulse Light
  • Acne Scar
  • Gentian Violet
  • Soft Tissue Augmentation
  • Wire Brush