Dermabrasion ( ‘Sandpaper Surgery’ ) is a highly sophisticated, controlled scraping of the facial skin that is used to smooth fine wrinkles or scars left by acne or previous surgery.
This is done using a diamond ‘fraise’ ( drill bit ) or sometimes, quite simply, sandpaper itself. The drill bit is attached to a motorized hand piece and rubbed against the outer layers of the skin to peel them off surgically. Dermabrasion is generally done for the full face and stops short just beyond the margin of the jaw bone. The eyelid skin is left untouched as it is delicate.
General Anaesthesia is preferred so that the patient is completely unaware of all the facial skin manipulation that is evidently required during this procedure. Generally 48 hours of hospital stay is recommended, as this is the period during which the skin ‘weeps’ the maximum after the procedure.
Scarring may occur if the dermabrasion has gone too deep, which is why it is not recommended for scars arising from injury. Hyperpigmentation can occur if the patient does not adhere to the post-operative sun protection regime.
Post Operative Care
The patient is discharged with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications and a skin care regime involving washing with soap and water and application of ointment on the abraded areas. The patient is asked to follow up once in 3 to 4 days to ensure that all is going well.
What to Expect
The ‘weeping’ stops in a weeks time, leaving behind totally de-pigmented skin, except for the skin around the eyes. Normal skin colour will return over a variable period from 6 to 8 weeks. However, one will be socially presentable after about 3 weeks. After this period, cosmetics may be used to conceal the whitened areas. One must be prepared for this time period away from work, not to mention the rigid sun protection protocol that is mandatory for success.
This procedure is performed only if the doctor feels confident of making at least a 30 to 40 % difference to the patients scars