Dermabrasion Procedure for Shallow Acne Scars

hi, how long do you need to continue your social activities after dermabrasion? And do you take medicine to lessen pain? If I have 20 sessions of microdermabrasion is it equal to one dermabasion? Thanks I have shallow acne scars on my face. They are pitted and I wish a smoother face, is it possible to make them less visible and fade?

Doctor Answers 5

Acne Scars and Dermabrasion

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Dermabrasion and its effects in acne scarring can be summarized as follows:

  • Limit in certain skin types- Darker skin types may not be candidates due to risk of permanent pigmentation issues
  • Shallow scars respond best
  • Consider therapies which build collagen and utilize dermabrasion as a "finishing" procedure once collagen has been restored.  Dermabrasion is much more effective in this role.

Chicago Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 179 reviews

Dermabrasion for shallow acne scars

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Dermabrasion is a very effective technique to correct some scars, including acne scars. Dermabrasion works by sending down the area around a scar so that the entire surface is on the same level. After dermabrasion, your skin will appear red and may have a small amount of bleeding. This should be treated by placing Bacitracin onto the raw skin. You should also use a sunblock with at least a 50 SPF at all times as this skin is extremely sensitive to sun burning and permanent hyperpigmentation. In our practice, we also recommend that patients stay out of the sun for several months after the surgery to make sure their skin heals optimally.

Microdermabrasion = Exfoliation Dermabrasion = Limited depth wound with healing

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Pitted scars are deep and rarely respond to dermabrasion. However, shallow acne scars may respond to traditional dermabrasion which may require 2-3 weeks for recovery. In brief, 20 sessions of microdermabrasion will not equal the effects of one dermabrasion procedure. Microdermabrasion, if performed properly as defined, is essentially an agressive expfoliation. (removal of dead cells). You should experience no bleeding. Bleeding indicates that you have passed into the dermis which is not an endpoint of microdermabrasion. Dermabrasion, however, does pass into the dermis and this creates a superficial controlled wound which must heal. microdermabrasion require no healing.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Dermabasion for Acne Scars

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Dermabrasion is a fairly affective treatment for acne scars.  There are a couple of points to consider:

  • Dermabrasion is much more aggressive than microdermabrasion 
  • Dermabrasion is more equivalent to CO2 or Erbium laser skin resurfacing (see my other posts)
  • You will have pinpoint bleeding following the procedure
  • Recovery takes about 5 days after dermabrasion

Microdermabrasion takes only the most superficial layers of skin off and is by no means equivalent to dermabrasion (not even if you have 20 treatments).  Dermabrasion removes skin in a very controlled manner down to the bottom layer of skin (the dermis).  This allows new collagen to form and fills in the acne scar depression.  As well, new skin cells grow over the area and produce a youthful, more rejuvenated skin.

Andrew Winkler, MD
Lone Tree Facial Plastic Surgeon

Acne scar treatment options

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No one knows how many microdermabrasions are equivalent to one dermabrasion, but if the scars are discolored or shallow, a series is worth a try. At least 6 would be my suggestion.

Fraxel Restore also is an option, and we KNOW how well that works for acne scars with about 3 days of downtime. 3-6 sessions are usually needed for acne scars.

Full dermabrasion has 7 days of downtime, like Actice FX and Fraxel Repair. Redness lasts several weeks after healing with all abaltive treatments.

There is no one right answer to your question, so I'd trust the judgment and experience of a reputable board certified dermatologist who performs all these procedures.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.