Dermabrasion In-depth

‘Dermabrasion can smooth out smokers lines, coarse facial wrinkles, and acne scarring’


Dermabrasion is a surgical method of resurfacing the skin. In cosmetic surgery, the two most common applications of dermabrasion are:

  • Dermabrasion of wrinkles lines around the mouth (‘smoker’s lines’)
  • Dermabrasion of acne scarring

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Issues to Consider about Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion should not be confused with mircro-dermabrasion. Micro-dermabrasion is a very superficial skin treatment that can be performed by non-medical personnel. Micro-dermabrasion is very gentle and does not have the ability to improved wrinkles or acne scarring.

Dermabrasion should be thought of as sanding of the skin. The outer layers of the skin’s surface are planed down to a level where the wrinkles or acne scars are smoothed out. There is a finite depth that can be dermabraded before the risk of skin colour change, and scarring become significant. It is very important to choose a healthcare professional with considerable experience in dermabrasion, in order to achieve the best improvement without complication.

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Dermabrasion for Lines around the Mouth

The lines around the mouth are often referred to as smoker’s lines, but they can occur whether or not you smoke. Smoking does worsen the problem of facial aging, so quitting is important if you do smoke. Age, genetics, facial thinning, and sun exposure are other factors responsible for wrinkles around the lips. These lines can also extend to the chin area as aging progresses. The most effective way to improve the appearance of these lines is with Surgical Dermabrasion. A combination of BOTOX® Cosmetic and tissue fillers may also be employed for patients who have fewer lines and less deep lines around the mouth.

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Dermabrasion of Acne Scarring

Acne scarring occurs because acne lesions create significant trauma to the skin, resulting in subsequent scarring. One of the most effective methods for treating acne scarring is with dermabrasion. It should be noted that obtaining the ‘ideal’ result from dermabrasion of acne scars is difficult, and patients must have realistic expectations as to what can be achieved. The deeper the scars, the more difficult they are to treat. Patients should think of results in terms of improvement rather than eradication of their scars.

Patients who still have active acne are NOT candidates for this procedure until the acne is fully under control. Additionally, if a patient has used Accutane for treatment of their acne, they cannot have this procedure until they stop for at least 1 year.

Other options for treating acne scarring exist, and are outlined below:

  • Facelift/Mini Facelift:
    • This option is excellent for patients who would benefit from a Facelift / Mini Facelift procedure, and at the same time, want to improve their acne scarring. Patients are typically older (50’s and up). They have mature acne scars that can easily be ‘smoothed out’ when the cheek skin is pulled back.
  • Fractionated laser resurfacing:
    • Fractionated laser resurfacing is a non-invasive alternative to dermabrasion but it may not be as effective for deeper pitted scarring. It is best utilized in patients who do have mild to moderate scarring, or this who do not want to have a surgical dermabrasion.
  • Soft Tissue Fillers:
    • For patients whose scarring is mature and relatively soft, having a tissue filler injected is an option to ‘fill in’ the pitted regions. Success is improved if the scars are soft, distinct, and shallow. Like all off the shelf fillers, the results are temporary, lasting from 6-12 months per treatment. This method does not work well for patients with firm, confluent, or deep scarring. Soft tissue fillers can be combined with Fractionated Laser resurfacing to obtain a better result than using each modality on its own.

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Dermabrasion Procedure Details

Dr. Tong performs Dermabrasion in the private surgical suites at 199 Avenue Road, where his practice is located. Most patients opt for IV sedation anesthesia, although some choose to have it performed with local anesthetic only. In the majority of cases, dermabrasion for wrinkling is performed in conjunction with other facial rejuvenation procedures such as a Facelift, which is done under IV sedation or general anesthesia.

Dermabrasion is performed with a special dermabrasion tool. Dr. Tong uses the dermabrader to carefully remove the outer layers of skin and scar tissue. Deep scars or wrinkles may not be totally removed as there is a risk for scarring if the dermabrasion is carried out too deep. Feathering is done at the periphery to allow for a more natural appearing transition. Once the areas have been satisfactorily treated, some ointment and gauze will be placed, and the procedure is completed.

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Recovery after Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is an outpatient procedure. You will be allowed to go home following the procedure after the effects of sedation have worn off, accompanied by a friend or family member.

You should plan to rest at home. During the first evening, you will to apply Vaseline to the dermabrasion site(s), to keep the areas moist. You will be allowed to remove your dressing the next day, and will continue with the Vaseline applications. Face washing will be performed 3 times per day, with re-application of Vaseline after each washing for the first week. You should expect the areas to look raw over the first 4-7 days. At one week, most of the sites will be healed over with a very thin layer of new skin. The areas will look pink. Strict sun avoidance is mandatory.

Dr. Tong will see you at one week to monitor your progress. He will instruct you on wound care, and you may be allowed to wear makeup over the sites. The pink is easily covered with foundation make-up, and fades to normal colour at 6 weeks after the procedure. You will see Dr. Tong at 6 weeks, and 6 months for follow up, at which time photographs will be taken.

Like any procedure, dermabrasion has risks and complications associated with it. The risks are low, but do exist. At your consultation, Dr. Tong will go over the pertinent potential risks and complications associated with Dermabrasion.

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Get Educated about Dermabrasion

Patients should obtain all the information about their surgery options before making a decision. Dr. Tong will make sure that you are informed every step of the way.

To learn more about how Toronto Dermabrasion Surgeon, Dr. Tong can help improve the appearance of your skin, set up a Dermabrasion consultation with Dr. Tong by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999. No physician’s referral is needed. You can also let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will call you on the same or the next business day.

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We practise The Art of Beauty.