What Is a Dermabrasion Machine?

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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2019
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A dermabrasion machine is a machine used primarily by licensed dermatologists and plastic surgeons for the purpose of skin resurfacing, also known as surgical skin planing. The machine works by exfoliating away the epidermis, or top layers of the skin. It should not be confused with a microdermabrasion machine; microdermabrasion machines perform a similar purpose but do not exfoliate all the way down to the dermis the way dermabrasion machines do.

Designs for dermabrasion machines differ by manufacturer, but the primary component in any dermabrasion machine is the wheel or brush. The wheel or brush is attached to a rod that rotates at high speed when the dermatologist or plastic surgeon turns on the machine. The abrasive surface of the wheel or brush sloughs away skin cells as it spins on the rod. Dermabrasion machines in this way operate in much the same way as a drill with sandpaper attached.

Microdermabrasion machines do not use rotary rods, wheels and brushes the way dermabrasion machines do. Instead, a microdermabrasion machine blows crystals, usually diamond, against the face of the client. The crystals of the microdermabrasion machine remove enough skin cells to improve overall appearance and treat minor blemishes but not enough to eliminate major imperfections.


A dermabrasion machine is a surgical instrument and therefore generally is not sold for use in the home. These machines are found primarily in dermatologist clinics, hospitals and plastic surgery clinics. Only individuals trained in dermabrasion should operate the machines and perform dermabrasion procedures. A microdermabrasion machine, by contrast, also can be used in spas or even in the home.

One primary benefit of using a dermabrasion machine is that it reaches deeper into the skin than a microdermabrasion machine does. It thus is effective in treating certain types of scars. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists also recommend the use of dermabrasion machines to treat stubborn wrinkles, liver spots and other imperfections of the skin. A person also needs to use a dermabrasion machine only about once a year, compared with the half-dozen or more sessions that microdermabrasion machines require.

The use of dermabrasion machines carries some risks. Infection is a concern on the treated region, because removal of the top protective layers of skin leaves the dermis exposed to the environment. Dermabrasion also sometimes leaves scars. The procedure also might cause uneven coloring or darkening of the skin as it heals. Skin discolorations from the use of dermabrasion machines sometimes are permanent, although they usually are not.

Certain areas of the skin are not suitable for treatments with a dermabrasion machine, because the machines take off so many skin cells. An example is the back of the neck, which tends to scar easily. One must use other skin treatments on those regions. Dermabrasion procedures also are more expensive than gentler alternatives such as home chemical peels. Proper use of a dermabrasion machine, however, can improve the appearance of the skin by 20-50 percent, according to proponents of the procedure.


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