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Microdermabrasion: A Clinical and Histopathologic Study



BACKGROUND Microdermabrasion is a widely performed skin rejuvenation procedure. Few studies have examined its efficacy.

OBJECTIVE To evaluate the clinical and histopathologic effects of microdermabrasion.

METHODS Fourteen patients underwent microdermabrasion treatments over 12–14 weeks. Self-rated questionnaires were given before and after the treatment series and were evaluated by a paired t-test. Three of the 14 patients were treated for moderate to severe acne scarring. Acute histologic effects were assessed ex vivo on human abdominal skin. Chronic histopathologic effects were examined in three volunteers who underwent skin biopsies before and after a treatment series on the dorsal forearms.

RESULTS By patient assessment, there was statistically significant improvement in roughness, mottled pigmentation, and overall improvement of skin appearance, but not in rhytides. Acne scarring sometimes improved, but required deeper ablation. Acutely the stratum corneum was homogenized and focally compacted. Chronically there was epidermal hyperplasia, decreased melanization, and some increase in elastin.

CONCLUSION Microdermabrasion improves some aspects of photoaging and select cases of acne scarring.

*Division of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California

Division of Dermatopathology, Department of Dermatology, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, California

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Elisabeth K. Shim, MD, 1301 20th St., Suite 570, Santa Monica, CA 90404, or e-mail:

E. K. Shim, MD is now affiliated with the Division of Dermatology, Los Angeles County—USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.

E. K. Shim, MD, D. Barnette, MD, K. Hughes, and H. T. Greenway, MD have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Acknowledgment The authors wish to thank Mary Linderman for her secretarial assistance, and Jeff Gornbein, UCLA Department of Biomathematics, for his statistical assistance.

© 2001 by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, Inc.
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