For most of us, smooth skin often seems just out of reach. While some skin damage is an inevitable part of life — um, hello, acne scars, wrinkles and pigmentation issues? — it seems like we’re always fighting for the skin we had as a kid.
“Both [dermabrasion and dermaplaning] are indicated for resurfacing and skin texture,” says Dr.Kapil Saigal, an Orlando, Florida, plastic surgeon. “They are not for removing excess skin (such as for a facelift candidate) or to volumize the skin (with a filler or a fat transfer).”
Ready to learn more about each? Read on for what each does, who it’s best for and costs.
Dermabrasion is an intensive skin-resurfacing treatment that surgically scrapes the skin to reduce the appearance of scars, wrinkles and pigmentation. For a less-invasive version, try microdermabrasion.
“Dermabrasion is a well-tested option when it comes to resurfacing and offers some advantages over what have become the go-to lasers,” says Dr. Miguel Mascaro, a Delray Beach, Florida, facial plastic surgeon. “The biggest advantage of dermabrasion is that it allows you to adequately see to what level of resurfacing you want to get to. This is important in scar revision, as well as when getting rid of those fine wrinkles, because going too deep can worsen the scar or cause pigmentation issues, and too superficial won’t accomplish much.”
Dermabrasion is most often used on the face, but can be done on the hands, chest or back, too.
“The biggest use of dermabrasion in my practice is for scar revisions as well as acne scarring,” says Dr. Mascaro. “Sometimes, I will use it to treat those pesky ‘barcode’ lines along the upper lip when they do not respond well to lasers or fillers, and the patient does not want the downtime of a deep chemical peel.”
Side effects and results
Redness, swelling and bruising are common side effects from dermabrasion, but are minimal and well-tolerated.
“As with any procedure involving skin, ensuring that adequate treatment is provided both before and after is just as important as during the treatment,” says Dr. Mascaro. “For dermabrasion, keys involve avoiding hyperpigmentation [skin getting darker after treatment] and hypopigmentation [skin getting lighter after treatment]. An experienced provider also limits the risk of further scarring.”
The cost of dermabrasion will vary depending on your location and your provider’s experience level. According to prices on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $1,000.
Related: 7 expert tips for extra glowy skin
Dermaplaning is a technique to smooth and exfoliate the surface of the skin and remove fine hairs. It can also be used to blend moles after they have been removed from the surface and smooth age spots.
“Dermaplaning is a form of exfoliation in which a provider uses a sharp surgical blade to manually slough and scrape off any build-up of dead skin cells on the face,” says Dr. Saigal. “In addition to getting rid of dead cells, the treatment softens the appearance of fine lines and scarring.”
While not ideal for treating most skin issues, dermaplaning is a good preventative measure for possible future skin abnormalities. It is also a popular treatment before big events to provide a smoother skin surface and improve the appearance of makeup.
“Dermaplaning is best used preventatively,” says Dr. Mascaro. “It helps to remove dead skin and some of the fine peach fuzz we develop on our skin.”
Side effects and results
Similar to dermabrasion, side effects may include redness, swelling and bruising, but these are minimal and subside quickly.
“Because it’s done with a blade, small cuts, nicks or scrapes can happen,” says Dr. Mascaro. “These are minimized with an experienced provider. Another small side effect is redness, which can last for a day or so.
“What’s great is that there is minimal downtime, and most people are great candidates for this,” he continues. “You see immediate result in the appearance and feel.”
The cost of dermaplaning will vary depending on your location and your provider’s experience level. According to prices reported on RealSelf, you should expect to spend around $150 on dermaplaning.