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Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure that is generally conducted on an outpatient basis using a local anesthetic with sedation. The surgeon uses an electric, high-speed rotary wheel with diamond particles that works like sandpaper to scrape away uneven layers of skin and reduce wrinkles. Another technique used to even out skin for craters or defects is dermaplaning. An oscillating razor device is used to skim off layers of skin until the surgeon reaches an even surface. Either or both mechanisms may be used in one treatment. The procedure generally takes between 30 and 90 minutes.
Following the surgery, ointment is applied to the skin to keep it moist and/or a dressing is applied for the first day or two. Patients may experience some pain, burning or aching, which can be treated with pain medications. Some swelling and bruising may occur, which will dissipate in about 1 to 2 weeks. The skin will scab after the treatment, which can lead to some itching. To prevent scarring, it is important not to touch or pull the scabs, but let them fall off naturally. This will occur in about one week. Most patients return to work in about 2 weeks, but must avoid activities that expose the face to bumps or cold and windy weather for up to 12 weeks. It takes a few months before the full effects of the procedure can be seen.