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There has been a huge surge in the demand for noninvasive and effective skin care procedures in the past few years. Skin polishing is one of the most popular ones. (1)
Skin polishing is an exfoliation procedure performed by a dermatologist to give your skin a fresh and rejuvenated look. This article will shed light on this process.
What Is Skin Polishing?
Skin polishing, known clinically as microdermabrasion (MDA), is a professional procedure that removes the outer layer of dirt, debris, and dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. It is an advanced exfoliation technique that brightens and revitalizes the facial skin without being aggressive (like a medium-depth chemical peel).
Skin polishing has shown promising results in many patients suffering from common skin issues – it closes open pores, treats hyperpigmentation, and thus helps in improving overall skin texture. It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure in a dermatologist’s office. (2)
The Skin Polishing Process
Skin polishing is a nonsurgical procedure and can be performed without anesthesia.
What equipment and technique are used in skin polishing?
There are mainly three types of skin polishing procedures:
1. Crystal system
- Skin cleanser
- Abrasion crystals
- Safety equipment (gloves, eyewear, etc.)
In this technique, microcrystals of aluminum oxide, sodium chloride, or magnesium oxide are discharged from the handheld microdermabrasion device. These crystals are fine and exfoliate the skin surface to get rid of the outer layer.
2. Crystal-free system/diamond-tip hand piece
- Mild skin cleanser
- Microdermabrasion hand piece tips (disposable or autoclave sanitized)
- Safety equipment (gloves, eyewear, etc.)
- Vacuum device
Diamond-tip microdermabrasion is performed with a hand piece that is diamond-tipped and deeply exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells and debris from the surface.
A vacuum device is also used in this technique that helps suck the dirt away and hold the skin to the tip for effective exfoliation.
- Microdermabrasion handheld device (with multiple hand pieces)
- Safety equipment (eyewear, gloves, etc.)
Hydradermabrasion is a skin polishing (exfoliating and hydrating) technique in which the skin is exfoliated using oxygen, AHA, vitamins, and water.
Water is expelled at jet speed to remove the dirt and debris pile-up from the skin’s surface. It hydrates the skin and leaves it radiant.
How is skin polishing done?
Generally, skin polishing is performed following these steps:
- The area to be polished is cleaned with a gentle cleanser.
- The eyes are covered with moist gauze or other equipment to protect them.
- The handheld device tip is placed on the skin.
- The device is used to slowly exfoliate the skin. It may release micromolecules or water at a controlled rate (depending on the type of hand piece used).
- When the procedure is finished, the remaining solution, debris, and skin cells are gently wiped away.
- The skin is moisturized with a gentle moisturizer.
How does skin polishing work?
Microdermabrasion is a method of deep exfoliation in which the skin is bombarded with crystals, water, or a diamond tip using a vacuum device. The procedure strips away the outer layer of skin cells, dirt, and debris from the surface and also initiates the skin repair process. (3)
How much time will the whole procedure take?
Skin polishing is usually a short procedure and can be performed in under an hour.
When can results be expected?
Most dermatologists recommend undergoing skin polishing for 4–6 weeks to see positive results.
Benefits of Skin Polishing
Here are some of the benefits of skin polishing: (4)
- Bright-looking skin: Skin polishing leads to visibly soft and bright skin and a bright complexion. (4)
- Smooth skin: Skin polishing helps control acne and blackheads, giving you smooth skin. (5)
- Even skin tone: Skin polishing is also known to reduce hyperpigmentation and patchy skin.
Things You Should Tell Your Dermatologist Before Skin Polishing
Skin polishing is a relatively safe procedure when performed by a dermatologist.
Always inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking or using topically on the skin, including vitamin supplements and birth control, before the procedure. Make sure to inform your doctor if you are taking isotretinoin (a type of retinol used to cure acne).
Also inform your doctor about any skin condition you may have or if you have sensitive skin. Let your doctor know if you have had or are prone to having cold sore breakouts.
Keep in mind that skin polishing may cause redness and bruising for a couple of weeks after the treatment before the skin begins to heal. (2)
Tips to Follow After Skin Polishing
Here are some tips to follow after a skin polishing treatment:
- Moisturize your skin regularly to keep it hydrated.
- Avoid sun exposure as your skin is very sensitive for a few weeks after the treatment.
- Avoid taking steam baths.
It is normal for the skin to be a bit irritated after undergoing skin polishing. Your skin will begin to heal itself in a week or two.
Which Skin Polishing Treatment Is Better for Sensitive Skin?
Both crystal microdermabrasion and crystal-free microdermabrasion can be damaging for people with sensitive skin. Consult your dermatologist to know whether you can safely undergo this process if you have very sensitive skin.
For most people with sensitive skin, hydradermabrasion is advised over other microdermabrasion techniques as it is gentler on the skin and also hydrates it.
Note: Some people may have allergic reactions to the aluminum crystals of crystal microdermabrasion. Always perform a patch test before the procedure. (6)
Side Effects of Skin Polishing
Some people may experience a few side effects with skin polishing, including:
- Skin tenderness
- Redness and bruising
- Sun sensitivity
Who Should Go for Skin Polishing?
Skin polishing can be useful for people suffering from a number of skin issues such as acne, scars, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and fine lines. However, it is best to consult a dermatologist to know whether this is the right treatment for you.
Who Should Avoid Skin Polishing?
Skin polishing may cause irritation and skin damage in people suffering from skin conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis. It can also be harmful in people with very sensitive or thin skin.
Can Skin Polishing Be Done at Home?
It is generally not advised to perform skin polishing at home as it can seriously damage the skin if done incorrectly.
There are a few at-home microdermabrasion devices available over the counter these days, but they are not as powerful or effective as a dermatologist’s clinical microdermabrasion device.
Ayurvedic Skin Polishing Treatment
The concept of natural skin exfoliation and skin polishing has existed in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Utsadana is the Ayurvedic equivalent of skin polishing. (7)
There are several utsadana creams and scrubs designed to exfoliate your skin and remove the outer layer of debris and dead skin cells from its surface.
The good news is you can make your own scrub at home by following this recipe.
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp coarsely ground walnut or almond powder
- 2 tbsp chickpea flour
- 2–3 tbsp milk
How to use:
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Apply the scrub to your skin and massage it gently for 5 minutes.
- Wash the scrub off after 10 minutes.
- Moisturize your skin with a gentle moisturizer.
Do Not Get Confused Between Dermabrasion, Chemical Peels, and Skin Polishing
Microdermabrasion, or skin polishing, is a noninvasive and relatively safer procedure than harsher treatments such as chemical peels or dermabrasion. It is basically a deep exfoliation technique that involves stripping the upper layer of skin cells and debris from the skin’s surface.
On the other hand, dermabrasion and chemical peels penetrate much deeper into the skin and many times lead to the complete removal of the epidermal layer.
How Is Skin Polishing and Brightening Different From Facials?
Skin polishing exfoliates the skin and removes all debris and dirt accumulated on the surface. It also stimulates the skin’s repair mechanism to increase collagen production and proliferation.
Thus, it can treat a number of common issues such as hyperpigmentation, open pores, and poor skin texture.
Skin polishing can be an effective one-stop solution for all your skin woes. It is a short noninvasive procedure and can be easily performed in an outpatient setting.