Dermaplaning vs. Microdermabrasion: Differences, Pros and Cons, Which One Should You Get?

By Daniel Mattia

  • Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are cosmetic procedures that physically exfoliate to improve the appearance of skin.
  • Little research has been conducted into dermaplaning, but anecdotal reports suggest similar efficacy and side effects as microdermabrasion.
  • Choosing between both dermaplaning or microdermabrasion will depend on your specific skin concerns and needs.
  • Some providers combine both procedures to take advantage of each treatment’s unique benefits.

Skin rejuvenation is a means of restoring the skin’s contour and texture. Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are two non-invasive cosmetic procedures that rejuvenate the skin through the process of physical exfoliation, scraping or peeling away the surface of the skin to trigger the body’s wound-healing process.

Once the skin regenerates, it is smoother and more uniform, with an improvement in the appearance of blemishes such as wrinkles, discoloration and scarring – including acne scarring. The process of exfoliation also removes dead skin cells, dirt and oil from the surface of the skin, all of which contribute to the growth of acne-causing bacteria.

Although dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are similar in action and results, both procedures differ in several ways.

Key Differences Between Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion

Dermaplaning uses a sterile blade or scalpel, called a dermaplane, to shave away the top layer of the skin. Microdermabrasion uses either a diamond tip to buff or sand the surface of skin, or a spray of fine crystals to peel it away.

Despite the popularity of both procedures, more research has been conducted into the efficacy and processes of microdermabrasion. Dermaplaning requires more research and better documentation before its true benefits can be determined.

Research into microdermabrasion has demonstrated mild but clinically significant improvements to the skin following treatment, with patients reporting they are pleased with their results. Anecdotal evidence following dermaplaning treatment suggests similar results and patient satisfaction.

Benefits

The wound-healing process that follows a dermaplaning or microdermabrasion session stimulates collagen production, a protein responsible for giving skin its elasticity. New deposits of collagen help to rejuvenate the skin and reduce the visibility of surface blemishes.

However, due to the different techniques, while the benefits are similar, they are not identical. 

Microdermabrasion BenefitsDermaplaning Benefits 
Treats noninflammatory acne

Smooths wrinkles and fine lines

Reduces skin discoloration, such as hyperpigmentation and melasma

Decreases visibility of scars, including acne scars

Reduces appearance of enlarged pores

Manages appearance of stretch marks

Enhances transdermal drug delivery
Shaves away fine vellus hair or peach fuzz

Removes pockmarks and deep scars, including acne scars

Reduces milia and comedones

Smooths wrinkles and fine lines

Enhances transdermal drug delivery

No contraindications

Pros and cons

With both procedures, results are immediately visible but each requires a different number of sessions to maintain.

Microdermabrasion is generally intended as a preventative or maintenance-type treatment. At first, multiple weekly sessions are necessary before desired results are attained, then maintenance sessions can be scheduled as infrequently as once per month.

Dermaplaning requires more frequent sessions to maintain results, in general, about every three weeks.

Cost

The costs of dermaplaning vs. microdermabrasion are comparable and based on a per-session rate. In general, dermaplaning costs between $75 and $250 per session; microdermabrasion between $75 and $200 on average.

The cost of either procedure is impacted by the:

  • Location in which the procedure is performed
  • Skill level of the operator or provider
  • Optional extras, such as a massage or peel
  • Size of the treatment area

Because multiple sessions are typically required for either procedure, many providers offer discounts or package deals for booking a series of consecutive treatments. Likewise, discounts are often offered for bundle deals in which dermaplaning or microdermabrasion is performed in addition to other services, such as a chemical peel.

How to Choose Between Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion

Choosing one procedure over the other will depend on your specific skin concern and needs. For example, if you wish to eliminate peach fuzz, dermaplaning is the clear choice; in contrast, those with enlarged pores will achieve better results from microdermabrasion.

Ideal candidates for dermaplaning

Dermaplaning is an effective skin rejuvenation procedure for those seeking to treat or reduce the visibility of:

  • Vellum hair or peach fuzz
  • Photoaging, or damage caused to the skin by sun exposure
  • Pockmarks and deep scars, including acne scars
  • Milia and comedones
  • Wrinkles and fine lines

Dermaplaning can be used on all skin types and tones. This treatment does not have any contraindications, so those with conditions such as rosacea or telangiectasias can still undergo the procedure, although consultation with a medical professional is recommended before treatment.

Ideal candidates microdermabrasion

Candidates for microdermabrasion are those individuals who wish to reduce the signs and visibility of:

  • Photoaging
  • Uneven skin tone and texture, such as hyperpigmentation and melasma
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Enlarged pores
  • Atrophic scars, or indented scars, including acne scars
  • Stretch marks

This procedure is safe for all skin types and tones, including dark skin. However, people with rosacea, telangiectasias or sensitive skin should consult their dermatologist to determine if an alternative treatment is a better option.

Dermaplaning vs. Microdermabrasion for Acne

Acne breakouts occur when dirt, debris and oil become trapped in pores, forming a clog. Clogged pores become breeding grounds for bacteria, which eventually manifest as acne lesions.

Both procedures effectively remove dirt and debris from the skin’s surface. This reduces the likelihood of acne-causing bacteria growing in your pores and helps prevent acne from forming.

Because dermaplaning shaves away vellus hair, there’s less material for debris and oil to cling to and linger on the skin’s surface. As a result, pores are less likely to become clogged and filled with acne-causing bacteria.

Microdermabrasion helps prevent acne breakouts by reducing the size of pores and removing loose debris by means of the microdermabrasion tool’s vacuum attachment. This results in a smaller pore size and less room for clogs to develop, which in turn, reduces the possibility of an acne breakout.

Although both procedures help prevent acne from forming, results are limited. Furthermore, neither procedure is safe to use on those with active acne breakouts. In many cases, alternative treatments may be more effective or safer to treat acne.

Acne scars

Despite claims of its potential for minimizing the visibility of acne scars, there is no significant research to support the efficacy of dermaplaning for acne scars. However, it is theorized that the increased cell turnover and stimulation of collagen production helps fill in scars and pockmarks. In addition, it may also be possible for this procedure to shave away existing scar tissue.

This same theory is said to apply to microdermabrasion. While improvements to acne scars following this procedure are mild, for best results, some people achieve better results by undergoing an alternative treatment.

Blackheads

Blackheads, or open comedones, are manifestations of acne that form when pores become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. They appear on the skin’s surface as a bump with a darkened head.

As forms of physical exfoliation, both procedures remove dead cells and sebum from the surface of the skin. In the case of microdermabrasion, this material, including oil, is suctioned up from the skin. After either treatment, the likelihood of developing blackheads is reduced. 

However, once again, there is little supporting research into the true efficacy of dermaplaning for blackhead prevention.

Dermaplaning vs. Microdermabrasion for Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is the appearance of dark spots and patches on the skin. This discoloration is caused by the overproduction of melanin, a pigment that gives skin its color, during a process called melanization.

Hyperpigmentation may manifest as melasma, sunspots or age spots. It may also develop after an injury, inflammation, or as a side effect of a number of other, more rare conditions.

Because both procedures resurface the skin, they may have some positive effect on reducing skin discoloration. In the case of microdermabrasion, there is some evidence of clinically significant improvements to mottled pigmentation.

There is no research into the efficacy of dermaplaning for hyperpigmentation; however, because dermaplaning is similar in nature to microdermabrasion, some estheticians and dermatologists may perform this procedure to treat hyperpigmentation.

Safety Profile of Dermaplaning and Microdermabrasion

Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are each considered safe and noninvasive cosmetic treatments. Sedation or anesthesia are not required for treatment, and both procedures are suitable for all skin tones and types.

Potential side effects following dermaplaning include:

  • Skin redness
  • Whiteheads
  • Skin flaking

 Side effects following microdermabrasion include:

  • Skin redness
  • Skin tenderness and sensitivity
  • Petechiae, or small coloured spots indicating bleeding beneath the skin’s surface
  • Dry skin

There is no downtime following either procedure and any side effects, if they do occur, usually clear up within hours of treatment. Patients must avoid direct sunlight for 24–48 hours after treatment and use generous amounts of sunscreen for as long as the skin takes to heal – about three weeks.

You should avoid either procedure if you are experiencing an active skin infection, including acne or herpes, or are prone to hypertrophic or keloid scars.

Can you get dermaplaning and microdermabrasion together?

Some dermatologists or aestheticians offer combination packages of dermaplaning and microdermabrasion. During a combination treatment, the skin will be lightly exfoliated while vellus hair is removed from the skin’s surface via dermaplaning. Next, your provider will begin exfoliating and resurfacing your skin via microdermabrasion.

Combining both treatments could give skin a smoother and more youthful appearance than could be expected after only one procedure.

Takeaway

Dermaplaning and microdermabrasion are cosmetic treatments in which the surface of the skin is physically exfoliated to trigger a wound-healing response. Once the skin heals, it is left more uniform, even-toned, and with a reduced appearance of dark spots and blemishes.

Both procedures can each be used to treat many of the same complaints, but with one difference: where dermaplaning shaves fine hair from the skin, microdermabrasion cannot. Instead, microdermabrasion can unclog and reduce enlarged pores, potentially making it a more effective treatment for acne prevention than dermaplaning.

Although there are more in-depth studies on microdermabrasion than dermaplaning, both procedures are commonly recommended by aestheticians and dermatologists for the purpose of skin rejuvenation. Patients have reported they are satisfied with the results of either treatment, although dermaplaning typically requires more frequent treatment sessions to maintain visible results.

The safety profile of dermaplaning vs. microdermabrasion is comparable, although patients with rosacea or telangiectasias should consult with their provider before undergoing microdermabrasion. In most cases, side effects following either procedure are temporary and clear up within hours.

SOURCES

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