Aged skin is characterized by rhytides but also by epidermal and dermal atrophy, rough skin texture, irregular pigmentation, telangiectasias, and laxity. Microdermabrasion is an office-based mechanical resurfacing technique alternative to traditional dermabrasion. It has been used in Europe since 1992 with great acceptance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate and quantify the degree of visible improvement in photodamaged skin and fine rhytides following a series of microdermabrasion treatments. A single operator treated 20 patients with varying degrees of photodamage and rhytides with a series of eight microdermabrasion treatments at 1-week intervals; 17 subjects completed the entire study protocol. Standardized photographic documentation was performed before and after each treatment, and a survey questionnaire was completed by each subject. Punch biopsy specimens (3 mm) were collected on treated and matched nontreated control sites and evaluated for histological characteristics. Preprocedure and postprocedure photographs were rated on a 5-point scale by independent blinded observers. A total of 30 blinded observers (16 plastic surgeons and 14 laypersons) rated all photographs. The results showed that all observers rated a significant improvement of hyperchromic discoloration (p = 0.004), while only nonmedical observers observed improvement in fine rhytides. All patients were very satisfied with the results. Common side effects were mild to moderate discomfort occurring on bony areas during the treatment and an itching and tingling sensation for 2 days after treatment. No infections or scars were observed postoperatively. The average epidermal thickness in the untreated samples was 103 ± 23 μM (mean ± SD) before treatment compared with 148 ± 41 μM after treatment (p < 0.001). Histologic analysis of the matched punch biopsy specimens showed an increase in organized collagen in treated versus nontreated sites. Treatment of aged skin using a series of microdermabrasion treatments is an effective, noninvasive method of skin rejuvenation with minimal risk and patient downtime. It is safe and improves skin quality by minimizing certain hyperchromic pigmentations.
From the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Received for publication January 14, 2003;
revised May 14, 2003.
Rod J. Rohrich, M.D.
Department of Plastic Surgery
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, E7.212
Dallas, Texas 75390-9132