Sometimes a peel and a bit of water isn't enough to undo all the damage inflected by time. For more drastic results, many estheticians recommend microdermabrasion, a treatment that uses a spray of microcrystals to exfoliate and improve texture of the skin, and can even treat acne scars. It's the spa-grade version of the rarely used dermabrasion performed in medical clinics. To put it in mechanical terms, dermabrasion is like sanding the skin, while microdermabrasion is like sandblasting very gently to remove the outermost layer of the skin. D'Allaird Brenner says it removes 30 to 60 percent of the stratum corneum (the skin's outer later of dead skin) each treatment. And with the dead cells out of the way, it enables better penetration of products. It also offers a delayed benefit by increasing cell renewal over time.
Dr. Tyler Hollmig, Director of Laser and Aesthetic Dermatology at Stanford Health Care, says that there is scientific evidence to support this service. "It gives you some collagen growth like using Retin-A for a month," says Dr. Hollmig. "It's a very easy treatment that makes the skin look good."
Microdermabrasion is also good for men with coarse pores filled with oil plugs or blackheads, says Dr. Zoe Draelos, a research dermatologist and consultingprofessor for the Duke University. However, she is skeptical of the way it can be marketed.
"I don't know you need 60 minutes," says Dr. Draelos of one popular Microdermabrasion facial offered in New York for $220. "I'd opt for a package of 30 minute treatments."
Verdict: A solid anti-aging treatment that can reverse mild sun damage and acne scars.