Is Microdermabrasion Safe While on Retin-A?

I have been on Retin-A therapy for about one year, and I would like to begin microdermabrasion treatments, is this safe?

Doctor Answers 10

Retin-A and Microdermabrasion

The combination of Microdermabrasion and Retin-A can go work well together. We use a crystal-free diamond tipped microdermabrader in our office. Your skin with Retin-A may be more sensitive and to help avoid scabbing and deeper injury we recommend that patients stop Retin-A / Tretinoin for 3-5 days before their microdermabrasion treatment. Patients can then resume Tretinoin the next day after microdermabrasion. Each patient is different and I tailor my recommendations accordingly.

Just a little more about Retin-A:

Retin-A / Tretinoin provides a light form of chemical peel that exfoliates the skin, enhances collage production (minimizes wrinkles), and evens skin tone (a treatment for hyperpigmentation).

Retin-A is the brand name for Tretinoin and is a topical prescription medication. Retin A can make your skin more sensitive to the sun; thus sunscreen/sunblocks are highly recommended adjuncts. Avoide sunlamps and tanning beds. We recommend avoiding areas of wounds, eczema, and muscosal areas such as the eyes, mouth, and nose. We also have our patients use tretinoin at night instead of in the morning because of the increased sun sensitivity during the day. When we start a patient on tretinoin, we usually have them start every other night for the first 2 weeks then increase to every night. We would like to personally monitor a patient's progress with this medication. We carry a skincare line in our office - Obagi - which utilizes tretinoin.

Our most common dosages of tretinoin that we prescribe in our Modesto, California office is 0.1% or 0.05%. Tretinoin is also available as a 0.025% strength.

Retin-A/Tretinoin works by thinning the outermost layer of the skin - the stratum corneum, while cells in the epidermis are stimulated to produce a thicker epidermis layer. Collagen production and cellular growth in the dermis layer also increases. These changes are fully appreciated after about 2 months of continued use. At that time one would see improvement with acne, hyperpigmentation, pore size, and texture. Continued daily use is recommended to keep these improvements, and some skin care specialists recommend a modified maintenance route with Retin-A/Tretinoin.

Retin-A has been used to treat acne and for skin rejuvenation purposes. It is not known whether Retin-A is harmful to an unborn baby or nursing baby. Talk to your doctor in person about using Retin-A, especially if you are pregnant or just delivered your baby.


Modesto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Retin-A and Microdermabrasion

It is not uncommon to use both Retin-A and other hydroxy acids simultaneously with microdermabrasion treatments. But most doctors will likely stop your Retin-A treatment either two weeks or a couple of days before your first microdermabrasion treatment. Note that since you have been on Retina-a, you may have more redness and scabbing after microdermabrasion than if you were not on Retin-A. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Microdermabrasion and Retin-A

I would generally recommend stopping Retin-A for 2 weeks prior to microdermabrasion. Retin-A can make your skin more sensitive and could increase your healing time from the microdermabrasion. However, I do think Retin-A is an effective medicine for photoaging and would recommend restarting it after the microdermabrasion.

Mandy Lynn Warthan, MD
Dallas Dermatologist

Microdermabrasion and Retin-A treatments: Safety of combined exfoliation

Microdermabrasion and Retin-A.

Retin-A is a proprietary name for tretinoin. The active ingredient is a derivative of Vitamin A and stimulates the cell cycle, thereby inducing exfoliation and deposition of linear collagen in the dermis.

In the early stage of treatment, tretinoin can cause redness, exfoliation, and sensitivity of the skin. As the treatment progresses, the skin will increasingly become tolerant of the Retin-A. The result, a smoother complexion with eradication of fine lines and increased skin resiliency.

Microdermabrasion is a mechanical form of exfoliation. There are many variants. In our Santa Monica office, we utilize two more predictable and effective treatment modalities of mechanical exfoliation. The first is a diamond microdermabrasion that we use routinely with Retin-A treatment. Second, we use a water based exfoliation that infuses enzymes and acids to loosen cellular and pore debris prior to exfoliation to effect a more effective treatment without the intense abrasive effects.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Microdermabrasion and Retin-A

Yes, it is perfectly safe to utilize Retin-A during the time period you are having microdermabrasion performed. In fact, Retin-A and microdermabrasion complement each other perfectly to provide optimal results for all skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, acne, fine lines and wrinkles, skin tone and skin texture.

After a microdermabrasion your skin may feel more sensitive because the top layer has been exfoliated and products with active ingredients such as Retin-A may tingle or sting when you apply the product the post treatment. However, the products are able to penetrate deeper into the skin after an exfoliating treatment such as a microdermabrasion and bring more benefits to your skin. You do not need to discontinue the use of Retin-A before or after a microdermabrasion treatment. If on the rare instance you were to experience any signs of excessive irritation and inflammation you could discontinue the use of Retin-A for 2-3 days post treatment to allow your skin to calm down and then begin using Retin-A again regularly.

Microdermabrasion is a safe, non-invasive exfoliation method that removes and vacuums dead skin cells from the skin revealing fresh, healthy skin. Softer, smoother skin will be visible after one treatment and results will continue to advance after additional treatments. This procedure promotes new cell growth and vascular circulation under the skin resulting in healthier and firmer skin.

Retin-A, medically known as Tretinoin, is a derivative of Vitamin A which stimulates faster cell turn over providing exfoliation to the skin. It is common for patients to report skin irritation such as redness, peeling or sensitivity when they first being the use of a Retin- A. The skin will adjust and become more tolerant as the patient continues to use the Retin-A as instructed. As a result the skin becomes smoother with decreased fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.

Scott Chapin, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Retin-A and Microdermabrasion

Patients seeking a non-surgical method to rejuvenate and refresh their facial skin need look no further than microdermabrasion. It is safe to be on Retin- A and most of our patients are on this helpful medication if tolerated.

Microdermabrasion is a less aggressive technique than dermabrasion. It is effective for treating:
  • light scarring
  • discoloration
  • sun damage
  • stretch marks

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 99 reviews

Microdermabrasion + Retin-A

The combination of Microdermabrasion and Retin-A can actually work really well together. A diamond tipped microdermabrader is used in our office. While on Retin-A your skin may be more sensitive, so to avoid scabbing and injury I recommend my patients stop use of Retin-A products 3-5 days prior to treatment. You may resume use of Retin-A the day after your treatment. While microdermabrasion can improve the appearance of blackheads and freckles, it cannot remove them completely. Microdermabrasian is a superficial treatment, for more dramatic results I suggest an IPL photo facial which is usually done 3-5 times.

Frank L. Stile, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Yes good combination

Using Retin-A in combination with the microdermabrasion treatments will only enhance the results. It is recommended for patients to stop using the Retin-A 3-4days up to 1 week prior and after the treatment to prevent being extremely sensitive during the treatment. Using sun protection every day is a must when using any Retin-A  and doing any medical spa treatments.

Retin-A and microdermabrasion

This combination is safe to use, understanding that the skin while under retin-a is more sensitive, so you may have more redness and scabbing after the microdermbrasion than if you were not on the retin-a. I would generally recommend stopping the retin-a for 2 weeks prior to the microdermabrasion to minimize the downtime afterwards.

Benjamin Barankin, MD
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 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.