Microdermabrasion is in. But before you visit a specialist, you’ll need to know more about the different methods of this popular treatment. At its core, microdermabrasion is an anti-aging procedure that removes the outermost later of dead skin cells. Yes, the process can be mildly painful. Aside from visiting a spa, dermatologist, or plastic surgeon, you can opt for a home microdermabrasion machine. Read more to learn about each method.
Let’s get one thing straight: dermabrasion is a method wherein a professional uses a special instrument to erase dry and dead cells to reveal new, smoother skin beneath. The process is mainly used to remove pox marks and acne scars. It involves local anesthesia and a recovery time of 7-10 days.
Microdermabrasion is a less aggressive method that traditionally utilizes a spray of tiny crystals to exfoliate the skin, producing a brighter, softer surface. This more advanced yet simpler process is mainly used to remove signs of aging including brown spots, age spots, dull skin, and sun damage. It involves a short recovery time (about 24 hours), fewer risks, and no anesthesia.
While microdermabrasion is safe for all skin types and colors, traditional dermabrasion is only safe for light skin.
Diamond VS Crystal
As specialists will tell you, there are two main types of professional microdermabrasion. Crystal microdermabrasion has long been the go-to process for skincare professionals. Diamond microdermabrasion is a safer, more modern alternative.
The older process is an ablative procedure that removes dead/dry cells with friction and heat. The doctor uses a handheld device that shoots a high-speed stream of minuscule aluminum oxide crystals onto the skin to blast away grime and dead/dry skin cells. The system also includes a tiny vacuum that sucks up unwanted material. Think of it like “sand blasting” your face.
Note: It is very important to protect your eyes during this procedure.
Diamond microdermabrasion is a new modification on the traditional crystal process that can produce different results. Instead of ablation, this process uses abrasion (imagine a cheese grater) to “scratch” away grime and dry/dead skin cells.
During the process, your doctor will use a wand tipped with a laser-cut diamond. This precious gem was chosen for its durability and strength. And, unlike other substitutes, they do not leave powder or dust after use.
Just like the original process, a vacuum device sucks up all unwanted material from the skin. To compare, crystal md can be considered “sand blasting” while the more modern version can be thought of as “sand papering.”
Man VS Machine
Crystal md tends to depend more heavily on the state and efficiency of the equipment used than does diamond md. Because crystal md has been around longer, there is a chance that your doctor could be using an outdated device. The state of the wand controls the force of flow, which affects the strength of the device’s ability to suction off dry/dead cells.
Diamond md, on the other hand, involves manual pressure to achieve suction. Therefore, the effectiveness of the treatment is more dependent on the professional’s skill than the state of the machine.
While the microdermabrasion process will take less than 30 minutes (time depends on the state of your skin), appointments typically last one hour to leave time for facial cleansing after the procedure.
The modern system has completely replaced the use of micro-crystals. As you can imagine, “sand blasting” the face involves considerable risk to the eyes if they are not covered properly.
During diamond md, the doctor is able to treat the sensitive areas directly around your eyes without fear of crystals getting into them. There is also no risk of inhaling particles.
Surprisingly, the modern version costs less than its predecessor. That’s because diamond md does not use a continuous flow of crystals. That beings said, price varies dramatically based on several factors:
- Location (spa, doctor’s office, etc.)
- Part of body treated
- Severity of skin problems (i.e. how many sessions)
You can expect to pay between $75-$200 per treatment.
Both methods of microdermabrasion were developed to do the same thing: erase the top layer of skin to decrease signs of aging/irregularities and reveal a new, smoother and younger-looking layer of skin beneath.
As I mentioned above, results vary greatly depending on the doctor. Many professionals will advise the use of crystal treatment for clients with serious skin troubles. Because the stream of crystals is more irregular than the diamond-tipped wand, the crystal process is better able to conform to tiny ridges and bumps in the skin.
You may be a candidate for crystal md if you have:
- Lots of variation in texture
- Deep lines or scars
The diamond process works best for more “regular” skin. You may be a candidate for diamond md if you:
- Have small wrinkles
- Have dull tone/ sun damage
- Want intense exfoliation
At Home Systems
Ready to attempt microdermabrasion on your own? Below I will briefly review a diamond md system and a handheld md system as they compare to professional alternatives.
New Spa Portable Diamond MD Machine ($176)
The New Spa kit pictured at left is arguably the best at-home diamond md system on the market. Unlike other diamond md systems, this one comes in a sturdy metal case. The system’s parts are professional and look like those you’d see in a doctor’s office. In fact, many small spas use this exact model.
The system is easy to operate. The handy frequency knob allows the users to control suction power. New Spa includes multiple diamond tips so you can effectively treat every area of the face including the hard-to-reach areas around the nose. Larger tips are great for the chest and body (some people even treat the derrière).
The New Spa portable system also comes with several filters, so you won’t have to worry about replacing them for a while.
Note: When purchasing a home diamond system, make sure the tips are 100% diamond (if not, you aren’t getting the real thing).
Check out other safe home microdermabrasion machine models here.
PMD Personal Microderm Handheld System ($159)
As you can imagine, handheld systems were designed to be convenient and easy to use. They are far more portable than non-handheld systems. Depending in the brand, a handheld wand can become heavy during use. The product reviewed here, however, weighs only 14 ounces.
Whereas the first product involves a tiny wand attached to a heavier box, the handheld system must fit all that technology within the wand; for example, the PMD Personal Microderm pictured at left.
The PMD is not cordless, so with either product you’ll have to deal with cords.
With at-home kits, results are equal to both the quality of the machine you are using and how you use it. With proper use and a high-quality machine, it is possible to get near-professional results on your own.
However, because a doctor or dermatologist has a medical background, high-end products, and all the products he or she could want to treat your skin after the procedure, professional treatments are almost always going to produce better results. On top of that, regular visits to the dermatologists can help prevent skin disease and can answer any questions you might have.