What you can expect
Dermabrasion is typically done in an office procedure room or outpatient facility. If you're having extensive work done, you might be admitted to a hospital.
On the day of your procedure, wash your face. Do not apply any makeup or facial creams. Wear clothes that you don't have to pull over your head because you'll have a facial dressing after your procedure.
Your care team will give you anesthesia or sedation to decrease sensation. If you have questions about this, ask a member of your care team.
During the procedure
During the procedure, the doctor moves a small motorized device across the skin with constant, gentle pressure. The device has an abrasive wheel or brush for a tip that removes the outer skin layers.
Dermabrasion can take a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on how much skin is being treated. If you have deep scarring or you're having a large amount of skin treated, you might have dermabrasion done more than once or in stages.
After the procedure
After dermabrasion, treated skin will be covered with a moist, nonstick dressing. You will receive self-care instructions to follow at home and you might be given prescription pain medication.
You'll likely need to schedule a checkup soon after treatment so that your doctor can examine your skin and change your dressing.
At home, change your dressing as directed by your doctor. Your doctor will also let you know when you can begin regularly cleaning the treated area and applying protective ointments. Your self-care instructions will vary depending on the extent of your procedure.
While you're healing:
- Treated skin will be red and swollen
- You'll likely feel some burning, tingling or aching
- A scab or crust will form over treated skin as it begins to heal
- The growth of new skin might be itchy
To relieve pain after the procedure, take prescribed pain medication or an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox DS, others). Ask your doctor which pain reliever is best for you.
You might prefer to remain at home while you're healing from dermabrasion, though you can usually return to work after two weeks. Keep treated areas away from chlorinated swimming pool water for at least four weeks. Your doctor might recommend avoiding active sports — especially those involving a ball — for four to six weeks.
Once new skin completely covers the treated area, you can use cosmetics to conceal any redness.
If your treated skin appears to be getting worse — becomes increasingly red, raised and itchy after it has started to heal — contact your doctor. This might be a sign of scarring.