"The Skin Coach" column is written by Kimmy Williams, owner of Acqua e Sapone, a skin clinic in San Francisco.
Microdermabrasion is one of the most common procedures sought out by acne sufferers. It’s cheap, non-invasive, and it doesn’t require a visit to the dermatologist. It is also marketed as a magic cure for everything from signs of aging to dull, sagging skin and it is easily accessible at most spas and salons. But just like the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it is, and this is especially true when it comes to acne. So if you are thinking about getting microdermabrasion to treat those pesky pimples, here are three reasons why you should think again:
1. Microdermabrasion only works on the surface of the skin. This would be fine if the acne process started on the surface of the skin but it doesn’t. Although we see acne lesions with the naked eye once they reach the surface of the skin, retention hyperkeratosis, the process responsible for the sludging up of dead skin cells that leads to acne, starts deep down inside the hair follicle. So any procedure that deals with acne lesions on the surface of the skin is essentially only treating a symptom of a deeper problem.
2. Microdermabrasion can dry out and sensitize the skin. Any type of mechanical exfoliation can dry out the skin and cause it to become irritated but the likelihood of these side effects occurring increases dramatically when tiny crystals are being shot at close range onto your delicate skin. Many people mistakenly think that these side effects are signs that a product is working but having dry, sensitive skin when trying to treat it for acne is like trying to run a marathon with a sprained ankle: you won’t get very far in the end because your skin needs to be in top shape to endure the products and treatments required to effectively treat acne.
3. Microdermabrasion can cause acne to become inflamed. Acne comes in different shapes and sizes but those tender, red lesions that sometimes develop pus are known as inflamed acne lesions. These lesions are formed when the little seeds inside the follicle called microcomedones cause the follicle wall to rupture, triggering an inflammatory response. Some of the triggers that may cause the delicate follicle walls to rupture include hormones, picking, and ... mechanical abrasion!