What Are the Pros and Cons of Dermabrasion for Scars?

Erin J. Hill

The main pros of using dermabrasion for scars is that it is a highly effective procedure, and is often the only option for those with severe acne scars and certain other conditions when clear, smooth, skin is the desired result. Potential drawbacks include the price of the procedure, the possibility of side effects, and a sometimes uncomfortable recovery process.

Scar tissue.
Scar tissue.

Dermabrasion involves the use of a skin buffer or sander which features small diamond particles. Sometimes a wire brush may also be used. They are usually attached to a small device which spins the sander rapidly against the skin in order to remove the top layer of tissue. This can scrape away scars and other imperfections and allow the tissue underneath to replenish itself and improve the skin’s texture.

Dermabrasion can improve the appearance of acne scars.
Dermabrasion can improve the appearance of acne scars.

Patients may choose to use dermabrasion for scars because it is often highly effective, especially if more than one treatment is performed. Although there are gentler methods for improving the appearance of scarred tissue and other blemishes, those with more prominent or noticeable scars may find dermabrasion to be the most effective means of improving their skin’s appearance.

One potential drawback to the use of dermabrasion for scars is that it can be quite expensive, especially when more than one treatment is required. It should only be performed by a licensed cosmetic surgeon or another professional who is trained in its proper application. This increases its cost when compared to procedures or treatments which can be performed at home or in non-medical facilities. Insurance does not usually cover this procedure since it is typically considered cosmetic in nature.

Another drawback to using dermabrasion for scars is that the recovery process can be uncomfortable. Swelling and pain are common in areas where the procedure was performed. The skin may also appear red and blotchy during this time. Patients may be self-conscious of their appearance during the healing process, so time taken away from work may be needed. This increases the financial implications for some patients.

Additionally, dermabrasion does carry the risk of certain side effects. These can include allergic reactions to the anesthesia used during the procedure, scarring if the buffer or sander is applied with too much pressure, infection, bleeding, and rarely, severe reactions to the pain medications or anesthesia leading to heart or breathing problems. All patients should be carefully monitored before, during and after dermabrasion is performed. Those with certain heart or lung conditions may be advised to avoid this procedure.

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