(Surgical Skin Planing; Skin Resurfacing)
by Monica Bearden, RD
Dermabrasion is used to remove damaged skin. This allows healthy, smoother skin to grow in its place.
Reasons for Procedure
Dermabrasion is done to help repair damaged skin. The procedure may help to renew skin by encouraging new skin growth. Dermabrasion may be used to treat the following skin conditions:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
Dermabrasion is not recommended if you have:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may:
Photographs will also be taken before and after surgery. This will help to see the changes.
A local anesthetic will be used to numb the area. A numbing spray may also be used. If the amount of work is extensive, you may need general anesthesia. In this case, you will be asleep.
A sedative medication may be given to help you relax.
Description of the Procedure
The area of skin will be cleaned and the anesthesia will be applied. A motorized tool with a wheel or brush will be used. The tool with be passed over the skin. Each pass will remove a certain amount of skin. The process will continue until the damaged area is level with the rest of the skin.
An ointment or dressing will be applied to the area.
How Long Will It Take?
The length of time depends on the size of the area to be treated. It can range from a few minutes to 90 minutes.
How Much Will It Hurt?
Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Healing normally takes 7 to 10 days. A steroid medication may be prescribed to reduce swelling and improve healing.
Proper care will also help you heal. Steps may include:
At first, the area will bleed. After it heals, the skin should appear smoother and blend into the surrounding skin. Results are long lasting.
During your procedure, the staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
Dermabrasion. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery website. Available at: https://www.asds.net/_PublicResources.aspx?id=536&terms=dermabrasion. Accessed September 5, 2019.
Dermabrasion. American Society of Plastic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermabrasion. Accessed September 5, 2019.
Harmon CB. Dermabrasion. Dermatol Clin. 2001;19(3):439-442.
Roy D. Ablative facial resurfacing. Dermatol Clin. 2005;23(3):549-559.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD
Last Updated: 9/25/2020