Does Microdermabrasion Remove Acne Scars & Stretchmarks?

The Potential Wonders of Microdermabrasion

Stretch marks plague women of all ages. While some women escape the onslaught of these scars on hips and thighs in puberty, few women are able to escape the marks brought on by ten hard months of carrying a child. As time goes on, these marks may fade from a dark purple to a light, flesh colored series of stripes—however, few women see this transition as something to be celebrated. Instead, this is seen as spelling doom—large letters saying “these are permanent”.

Similarly, many men and women suffer from severe acne scarring. Again, this scarring typically develops in adolescence, though its effects rage on through adulthood. Both acne scars and stretch marks leave unsightly marks that many men and women feel ashamed of, and work years to cover or ignore. Fortunately, for those willing to try out new techniques, there is microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is a skin care technique using either a sandpaper or sandblasting technique to strip away top layers of the skin, revealing the fresh, unscarred skin hiding below.

Acne Scars

Though not all acne sufferers wind up with readily visible scars, many are plagued by the presence of either ice pick, pitted, or tone scars. While acne scars may differ greatly in appearance and texture, all are similarly difficult to eradicate—leading many to microdermabrasion in the hope of making drastic changes to both the appearance and texture of their skin.

Tone scars are marked by differences in color surrounding the site of acne; these colors can range in brightness and intensity, and are typically either red, pink, or light brown. Though these scars may not be felt, they are certainly visible and a significant number can cause discomfort regarding one’s appearance. Pitted scars (also called boxcar scars) are scars characterized by pits or pockmarks in the surface of one’s skin, and are generally caused by a breakdown of collagen in the skin. The third most common acne scar type is the ice pick scar. Ice pick scars may be confused with pitted scars; however, ice pick scars are usually accompanied by a dark mark, and are far narrower and deeper than pitted scars. They appear to be small holes in the surface of the skin, rather than wide grooves.

Microdermabrasion, a dermatological practice that involves scraping or blasting away the top layer of skin to less damaged skin below, is often used to treat acne scarring, acne, and difficulties with skin tone and texture. For simple discoloration from acne scarring, microdermabrasion works quite well, as irregular tone is typically only on skin’s surface. For small difficulties with texture, too, microdermabrasion is very effective, requires no downtime at all, and is relatively inexpensive. For this reason, many acne scar sufferers embrace microdermabrasion. For those with deep, heavy scarring, however, other treatment options are available.

Dermabrasion is similar to microdermabrasion, but is harsher on skin, and requires some downtime to heal. Like microdermabrasion, layers of skin are sloughed away in order to reveal the new, fresh skin underneath. With heavy pitting, dermabrasion is a better course of action, as it digs deeper into the skin and stimulates new growth. Laser treatments are also available to change the surface of the skin, and have been found extremely effective in treating deep boxcar scars and the appearance of ice pick acne marks.

Stretch Marks

Stretch marks (or striae) are pitted, jagged stripes in the second layer of skin. Stretch marks are caused by the tearing of the second layer of skin (called “dermis”) during rapid growth. Although these marks are most frequently associated with pregnancy, they may appear during puberty as the body undergoes changes, following a growth spurt, or in the wake of a significant amount of weight gain. Striae frequently have a stigma attached to them, suggesting that men and women who suffer from them are in some way impaired or unhealthy. However, such marks are often unavoidable and do not necessarily signal a deficiency.

Like acne scarring treatment using microdermabrasion, stretch scar treatment results will vary depending upon the severity of the marks, and the way an individual’s skin interacts with the machine. Because these scars are not on the surface of the skin, but are instead below it, microdermabrasion cannot function as an end-all treatment. However, don’t despair just yet: many users report a significant reduction in the appearance and texture of scars through multiple microdermabrasion treatments. Though the scars may not be gone, or may not fade entirely, they may be greatly reduced by microdermabrasion treatments.

For individuals seeking a more intense removal regimen, dermabrasion and laser skin resurfacing treatments should be considered. Both are harsher on skin and require some downtime to heal, but are more effective in treating deep scars and severe discoloration. For heavy striae scarring, clients should consider setting microdermabrasion aside and looking toward more aggressive reduction techniques.

The Final Word

Microdermabrasion is a useful skin care technique, allowing the top layer of skin to be removed, exposing more youthful, healthy skin below. This type of skin resurfacing is best used on the following:

  • Light scarring, including shallow acne scars and striae.
  • Difficulties with skin tone and texture.
  • Ongoing struggles with acne and large pores.

Dermabrasion, a more intense, more involved technique (though it operates on the same premise as microdermabrasion) is best used for larger areas and more problematic issues, including:

  • Deep pitting and scarring from cystic acne.
  • Extensive, deep stretch marks with extreme discoloration.
  • Severe difficulties with skin texture, including unevenness, drastically enlarged pores, and bumps on the skin’s surface.

Because microdermabrasion and dermabrasion are two sides of the same coin, clients should always consult a skin care professional before deciding which course of action is right for their needs. Keep in mind that the severity of scars, skin pigmentation, and desired results must all be taken into consideration, and will determine the treatment plan that is best for you.

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