So, FaceApp’s “old age” filter was a little too realistic and now you’re on a mission to turn back time. Even though you’re perfect the way you are, let’s examine microdermabrasion and compare it to other real-life “youth filters” like microneedling and chemical peels.

Microdermabrasion is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that exfoliates or polishes the outer layer of your skin, stimulates collagen production, and leaves your skin glowing, smooth, and more even in tone.

During the procedure, a specialist uses a handheld device that gently removes the top layer of skin on your face and neck and the tops of your hands. You’ll likely need several treatments to see the best results.

Two main types of professional microdermabrasion


  • less invasive
  • recommended for all skin tones


  • more invasive
  • sometimes recommended for acne scars, surgical scars, and tattoo removal
  • recommended for only fair skin, as it can cause hyperpigmentation in darker skin

Microdermabrasion helps with the following skin concerns:

  • sun damage
  • wrinkles
  • fine lines
  • dullness
  • uneven tone
  • uneven texture
  • age spots
  • hyperpigmentation and melasma (sometimes referred to as “the pregnancy mask”)
  • acne scarring

In other words, microdermabrasion is selfie-approved.

Microdermabrasion can also enhance product absorption. That means you could get more bang for your buck from your moisturizer, serums, and other beauty products.

Can it help with acne?

Microdermabrasion (and dermabrasion) may help treat depressed acne scars that are not too deep in your skin. It can also alleviate some breakouts by unclogging your pores, releasing built-up sebum (oil).

Microdermabrasion won’t help with deep acne scars and can actually make them worse. If you have this type of scars, talk with a dermatologist before trying any resurfacing skin treatment.

If you’ve been taking isotretinoin (Accutane), you should avoid the procedure for at least 6 months because it could cause scarring.

What it won’t change

  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • active rosacea
  • the “Game of Thrones” finale
  • dermatitis
  • active cystic or nodular acne
  • unrequited love

Professional results cost money, y’all.

The price will vary depending on:

  • where you live
  • the doctor/facility you’re going to
  • the type of microdermabrasion you’re getting
  • how many treatments you need

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, as of 2020, the average price is $167 per treatment. Since most people need between 5 and 16 treatments, you’re looking at a cost of about $835 to $2,672 over the course of a few months or years.

And remember, microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure, so it’s not covered by most insurance.

Still, when it comes to cosmetic procedures, paying for quality is a good idea. Look for a med spa where service providers work under a clinician who is board certified and is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Microdermabrasion is nonsurgical and minimally invasive, so it doesn’t require much physical preparation.

Here are some questions you should ask before your treatment:

  • Who will perform the microdermabrasion?
  • How many treatments will I need?
  • What is the overall cost?
  • What are the potential side effects?
  • Do I have a higher risk for any side effects?
  • May I see before-and-after photos of previous patients?
  • Should I avoid any products or medications prior to treatment?
  • Should I arrive without makeup?

Again, microdermabrasion is nonsurgical and minimally invasive and takes an hour or less. You won’t need anesthesia or numbing cream.

It’s an in-office procedure that’s best to have done in a board certified dermatologist’s office, but an aesthetician will typically perform it, not a doc. Many salons and spas also offer microdermabrasion — just be sure to do your research and check their credentials before making an appointment.

During the procedure you’ll be seated in a reclining chair while your skin specialist uses whatever device they’ve deemed necessary (we’ll get to that in a second) to treat your skin. At the end of the treatment, you’ll be slathered with moisturizer and sunscreen.

There are three types of microdermabrasion, depending on the tools used:

Diamond microdermabrasion

  • uses a diamond-tipped handpiece designed to gently exfoliate dead cells from your skin and immediately suction them off
  • generally performed in more sensitive facial areas, such as the skin close to your eyes

Crystal microdermabrasion

  • uses a crystal-emitting handpiece to gently spray on fine crystals to exfoliate the outer layers of your skin and suction them away
  • types of crystals that may be used include aluminum oxide and sodium bicarbonate


  • a newer method
  • involves combining crystal-free exfoliation with an infusion of an antioxidant-based serum
  • stimulates collagen production and maximizes blood flow to your skin

What’s the pain-to-beauty ratio?

Microdermabrasion is a painless procedure. You may feel like someone is gently rubbing sandpaper on your skin, but it shouldn’t hurt.

How long does it take?

Expect 30 to 40 minutes to treat your face and 20 minutes to treat your neck.

How many treatments till time travel?

Depending on your skin concerns, a dermatologist may recommend weekly, biweekly, or monthly treatments. You can expect to be glowy and fresh for a few days after your first microdermabrasion session, but the best results come from repeated treatments.

As with most good things in life, the results are not permanent and will require maintenance. A good exfoliation will not make time stand still.

FYI: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most people will need between 5 and 16 treatments to see a difference in signs of aging.

Minimal. For a few days after a microdermabrasion session, you may experience:

  • sensitivity to sunlight
  • skin redness/pinkness (sunburn-esque)
  • skin bruising and/or swelling
  • a tingling/burning sensation

These symptoms should go away on their own within a few days of the procedure.

Make sure to use plenty of sunscreen after microdermabrasion to reduce the risk of sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and other side effects.

Not sure whether microdermabrasion is right for you? Here are some other popular options to consider:

  • Exfoliating scrubs. Gently scrubbing the spot you’d like to exfoliate with a gritty mitt or mixture can help your skin say sayonara to dead cells. You can do this at home, but be careful not to scrub too hard. And it’s best not to exfoliate more than once or twice per week.
  • Chemical peels. Chemical peels also exfoliate your skin. They’re used to address hyperpigmentation and aging-related changes to the skin, but they can be much more intense than microdermabrasion. They can cost up to thousands of dollars and can require up to 3 months of recovery time.
  • Microneedling. Microneedling is like microdermabrasion’s sharper cousin. It involves multiple tiny needles that penetrate your skin, prompting the skin to repair itself and stimulating collagen production. It tends to be more expensive than microdermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion can be an easy and safe way to give your skin a glowy, youthful boost. It costs less than other treatments used to achieve similar results and requires no significant recovery time.

If you’ve been wanting to address fine lines, sun damage, melasma, dullness, or moderate acne, find yourself a board certified cosmetic dermatologist and ask about microdermabrasion. We all deserve to glow.