Microdermabrasion vs Dermabrasion

by Edie Pastis

micro vs dermabrasion

While many of us are familiar with the terms Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion, these treatments are often getting confused with one another. Both are non-surgical skin refinishing methods that target surface skin problems like dry skin, acne scars, uneven skin tone, sun damage, minor wrinkles and large pores.

But how are Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion different? Which one is best for my individual skin care needs? Continue reading for more detailed comparisons and treatment information!

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Treatment Basics

Microdermabrasion. Due to its safety, affordability and simplicity, Microdermabrasion is one of the most popular non-surgical cosmetic skin treatments in use today. By applying a pressurized spray of exfoliating crystals to the skin surface, Microdermabrasion has helped thousands of patients achieve smoother, clearer, and more vibrant-looking skin. Exfoliating options include aluminum oxide crystals (bacteria-fighting), magnesium crystals, or crystal-free (diamond-tipped applicator).

Dermabrasion. Also not to be confused with Dermaplaning, another skin refinishing treatment, Dermabrasion is a much more intensive treatment than Microdermabrasion. Dermabrasion treatments use a motorized, abrasive wire brush or diamond applicator tool (burr or fraise) to resurface damaged skin layers and eliminate deeper wrinkles, acne scars and skin lesions. Some Dermabrasion providers apply a freezing spray to skin prior to treatment, to create a smoother treatment surface and to prevent skin drag.

Due to its more penetrative refinishing nature, Dermabrasion treatments are regularly performed by plastic surgeons, as well as by licensed skin care specialists.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Conditions Treated


  • dry, rough skin
  • light acne scars
  • fine lines
  • uneven skin tone
  • large pores
  • age spots
  • light sun damage


  • dry, rough skin
  • light and deep acne scars
  • fine lines
  • deep wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone
  • large pores
  • age spots
  • sun damage
  • superficial skin growths
  • melasma
  • deep sun damage

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Treatment Time

Microdermabrasion: 30 minutes to an hour.

Dermabrasion: 10 minutes to 1-2 hours. Dermabrasion time will vary based on extent of Dermabrasion treatment (full, partial), and the preparation steps taken (anesthesia, freezing spray) prior to the actual treatment.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Anesthesia

Microdermabrasion: none required.

Dermabrasion: topical or local anesthesia is common. General anesthesia is rarely used.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Risks and Side Effects

Microdermabrasion: possible risks and side effects include skin tenderness, temporary sensitivity to sunlight, skin irritation, and skin redness.

Dermabrasion: possible risks and side effects include skin redness, bleeding, scabbing, initial acne flare-ups, sensitivity, skin infection, skin discoloration, scarring and temporary swelling.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Costs

Microdermabrasion: cost average is $100-$130 per treatment. Multiple sessions (monthly intervals) are recommended for best results.

Dermabrasion: cost average for Dermabrasion can range from $500-$1500 per treatment. Dermabrasion costs can depend on treatment area (full or partial) and length of treatment, and can include anesthesia fees and provider fees. Depending on severity of skin problems, one Dermabrasion treatment may be sufficient. For patients requiring multiple sessions, minimum year-long intervals are recommended.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Recovery

Microdermabrasion: patients can resume normal activities the same day. Temporary skin redness, sensitivity etc. should dissipate within 1-3 days.

Dermabrasion: recovery time will depend on the extent of Dermabrasion performed (full face, partial) and the patient’s response to treatment. Post full-face Dermabrasion treatments, skin healing may take 1-2 weeks. New skin may remain slightly pink and sensitive for a month after treatment.

Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion: Results

Microdermabrasion: results are only temporary. Patients can expect smoother, brighter, clearer skin for 1-2 months before another treatment is needed.

Dermabrasion: results are long-lasting. Patients can expect smoother, brighter, clearer skin for several months at a time. Dermabrasion treatments may also permanently minimize the appearance of acne scars and other superficial skin lesions.

Is Microdermabrasion or Dermabrasion Right for Me?

Both Microdermabrasion and Dermabrasion can be appropriate, effective treatments for acne scars, wrinkles, dry skin, clogged or large pores, and uneven skin tone. Generally speaking, Microdermabrasion is a gentler treatment and thus more suitable for patients with sensitive skin and/or less severe skin problems. Dermabrasion is the better procedure option for more serious skin imperfections, but requires more down time and carries greater costs and risks.

For more information about Microdermabrasion vs. Dermabrasion, or to learn which treatment is most appropriate for you, we recommend consulting with a professional skin care provider in your area. They will be able to assess your individual candidacy for Dermabrasion or Microdermabrasion with greater accuracy.

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