1.  All Microdermabrasions are basically the same and do an adequate job of mechanical exfoliation.

Fact:  Most Microdermabraders (New or Old) do a very poor job at exfoliating the Stratum Corneum, Safely, Predictably & Reliably.  It's True!!  Just because you own or use a device that's labeled a "Microdermabrader," you can't assume that it is actively and evenly removing the dead skin cells.  Test your own unit out on a piece of dark newsprint at the treatment strengths you use....see just what area of the opening is actually getting hit with crystals.  You may be surprised at how small this area is and how unevenly the ink is removed.

2.  I can get the same or better results with glycolics.

Fact:  This may be true to some extent, but not without significantly more irritation and downtime.  Fact:  If done correctly, a "mechanical" means of exfoliation (microdermabrasion) results in less downtime for the patient vs. a "chemical" means of exfoliation (acid peels).

3.  My handpiece is sterile and/or I change my cap on each procedure, therefore, there's nothing to worry about.

Fact:  Absolutely Untrue!!!!  This is a very sensitive issue to me, but industry wide, generally a non-issue.  Why!  Think of the precautions we go through in both the medical and aesthetic worlds to prevent from any potential of cross contamination.  Should this be a sterile procedure?  It never will be and really doesn't have to be...but it should be as safe as we can make it .  Ultimately there should be some mandated guidelines that each manufacturer needs to follow in order to market their device, but up until now, there isn't any.  A HEPA filter alone is not enough! You need to know to "what level" the filtering system works to.  There is no physical way to make this a sterile procedure and the surface you're treating is contaminated to begin with.  What you should be able to guard against is any potential of cross contamination between patients/clients.  Simply sterilizing or highly disinfecting your handpiece and tubing's is not enough.  All of the internal mechanisms of the equipment are contaminated, so any air that delivers the crystals will also be suspect.  The only acceptable means of guarding against this is to filter both at the air intake of the unit and also after the waste receptacle to a level that is both anti-viral and antibacterial.  This way you can assure both yourself and the person undergoing a treatment that they won't walk out of your place of business with anything they didn't walk in with.

4.  The more aggressive I get, the better the results!  (I Need More Power!)

Fact:  Not true at all and this procedure is not about's progressive, not aggressive.  The stronger you do your treatments, the more potential "downtime" you risk.  Since there aren't any industry standards, it's next to impossible to compare treatment strengths between systems.  Most manufacturers will have at least 2 different models and label their most expensive device as a "Physician Only."  It generally will deliver a stronger treatment, but the real reason for this is purely for marketing reasons..and to command a higher price.  Some manufacturers "non-Physician" units will deliver a much stronger treatment than other "Physician Only" devices. 

5.  Microdermabrasion by itself can produce wonderful results!

Fact:  Please define wonderful.  The fact remains that microdermabrasion alone will only produce "Ho-Hum" results.  To achieve the kind of results that your patients/clients are seeking, it needs to be a combined therapy that incorporates active ingredient, daily skincare products that are specifically designed for the issues that exist.  It is not a "Magic Bullet," however if used appropriately and in combination with quality products that are used in conjunction with the can get outstanding results....without any irritation or downtime.

6.  Aluminum Oxide Crystals are dangerous and hazardous.

Fact:  Not True.  A while back it was reported that the potential for Alzheimer's existed if the patient or technician were exposed to Aluminum Oxide.  This was a totally bogus claim, but nonetheless, the microdermabraders lacked the design which would allow for all of the crystals to be efficiently removed.  They were very messy and the chance of particles getting into one's eye could cause corneal abrasions.  Likewise, these inefficient devices were not capturing or containing all of the potential airborne particles that resulted from inefficient removal, disposal or cleaning of the machine.  If they gave you a can of compressed air to "blow" out your own one of these...Beware!

7.  Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) and/or Sodium Chloride (Salt) are equally good exfolliators.

Fact:  Very, Very untrue.  Aluminum Oxide (Corundum) was originally used and eventually approved for use in Microdermabrading because of the qualities it has as an abrasive substance.  It is a very hard crystal with sharp edges that is widely used in the industrial community.  It is non water soluble, can be manufactured is various grit sizes and is relatively unaffected by humidity if purchased in its pure crystal form.  Both Sodium Chloride and Bicarbonate are water soluble, so they are very much effected by moisture and humidity and will absolutely clog more often.  More importantly, because they aren't nearly as hard, they typically will be a more "powdery" substance that "beats" the skin rather than removing it.  Lighter particles move faster, thus hurt more and exfoliate less.  This powder which is always prevalent in both salt and baking soda, will create much more airborne particulate matter, thus increasing the chances of  illnesses due to contaminants in the air.

8.  Purchase the "least expensive" crystals you can find.  They are all alike.

Fact:  Guess what?  Another myth in the industry.  Aluminum oxide when purchased in bulk form, lists the % level of Aluminum Oxide.  This can, and usually is, a very misleading figure.  As stated in the previous remark, it's the pure crystal you want, preferably in a 100 to 120 micron size.  What the label doesn't tell you is the amount of pure crystal vs. powder (smaller).  Again, the powder will not nearly exfoliate as well as the crystal form.  It will still pinken the skin, but generally a vacuum only device will do this and you really aren't able to visually see what is being removed.  You know crystals are hitting the surface, but what you don't know is how effective they are in removing the dead skin cells, the ultimate goal of this procedure.  Using a poor grade Aluminum Oxide source would be like handing Stevie Wonder a paintbrush.

9.  Independent "Vacuum" and "Crystal Flow" knobs allow for optimal treatments.

Fact:  On the contrary, it can lead to no microdermabrasion at all.  There's no question that machines that have dual knobs are easier and less expensive to manufacture.  However, since most of them incorporate a "one hole out" and "one hole in" handpiece, it is impossible to capture all of the crystals that are being delivered to the skin......unless you turn down the crystals and increase the the risk of very little abrasion at all.  As I said earlier, you can't visually see the crystal output, but you can see what's left on the skin and also the pinkening that occurs...which could be due to the vacuum only.  This doesn't mean that a single knob system is better, or that you can't be successful with a dual knob system.  You just have to more intimately know your machine.  The most desirable system would allow for a continued balance of both crystal flow and vacuum, similar to an automatic transmission on a car.  There does exist an optimal amount of crystals that should be release based upon the amount of vacuum being applied in order to evenly and adequately exfoliate.  If you can accomplish this while not increasing the drag to the handpiece, you have a winner.

10.  8 to 10 Treatments, 7 to 10 days apart with Monthly Maintenance Treatments.

Fact:  If done correctly, a series of 4 to 6 treatments should be sufficient to get optimal results.  If you are doing more than this, then most likely one of two things are missing.  The first would be using a microdermabrader that really isn't exfoliating and/or a technician who is passing the handpiece too quickly to adequately abrade the skin.  The second is that you, and/or your client, aren't incorporating a daily skincare regimen with active ingredient products.  Many times the technician isn't comfortable in suggesting products to use, might make it too expensive....but if they don't, the results won't be what your client is seeking.  Other times, your client isn't compliant either because the regimen is too complicated or they haven't been educated on the importance of products.  More times than not, many product lines are too complicated and/or too irritating to be used with microdermabrasion.  In fact, most of the notable skincare manufacturers recommend existing products and don't have a line that has been specifically developed for use with microdermabrasion.  Furthermore, they feel threatened by microdermabrasion instead of embracing it.  TRUTH Just about anything you place on the skin following an exfoliation procedure, will penetrate deeper, be more effective and act faster.   Microdermabrasion will make good products work even better....and faster.  Look for a simple, yet effective line that is easy to understand.  Above all, educate your patient on the importance of them.

**The reality and dynamics of today's marketplace dictate that price is usually of primary concern, not quality and safety of treatments.  Truth be known, it would be very difficult to pinpoint a transmitted disease back to a microdermabrasion treatment.....but there's no doubt it's occurring.  The only documented case this author is aware of to date occurred when the technician was reusing contaminated crystals to cut treatment costs. 

Knowing all of this exists, how safe would you feel having a treatment done by someone who really hasn't been well trained on the use of the device??  We can only hope that stricter requirements are placed on the manufacturers and minimum guidelines established and strictly enforced.  

Microdermabrasion is being done everywhere and by everyone!  Most patients really don't take the time to make sure they are having the procedure at a qualified plastic surgeon's office.  It's only after you have purchased a few treatments before you can begin to evaluate your purchase.  Even then, if you have nothing to compare it with, you learn to live with it and hopefully like it...


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