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Hey,

I have some deep and pitted scars on my face from cystic acne that look unsightly and disfiguring. I would give an awful lot to be rid of those scars as much as possible - I am not expecting a perfect result, just a very noticeable level of improvement that will allow me to feel confident and not attract stares and pity from people. 

Will a dermabrasion really do this for me? What else do I need to know about dermabrasion for scars on the face before I look for a consultation with some plastic surgery clinic? Personal experience is definitely welcome. 

Linn

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Dermabrasion absolutely has great potential when it comes to treating acne scars. Though it is most often used as a wrinkle treatment, dermabrasion is certainly used for the purpose you are thinking of very frequently as well. It does fall in the category of surgery. If your whole face is being treated, you may even need general anesthesia and you will experience pain afterwards. You need to follow the aftercare instructions very carefully and can expect to begin looking better, complete with new layers of skin, after about eight days. Dermabrasion is not for the faint of heart. It can offer radical results though, especially with cystic acne scars. 

Rosie

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Dermabrasion essentially removes the outer layers of the skin in a safe environment, and reveals new skin without blemishes underneath. It works very well for pretty much anything except for burns. Small scars from injuries, from disease (chicken pox for instance), and acne can all be removed pretty nicely with dermabrasion. Before you go any further, I suggest you look up some videos of dermabrasion procedures on YouTube to understand exactly what is iinvolved. It is not a "light" procedure, but it can give you the permanent results that you are hoping for.

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Hi Linn,

I think you are on the right track here. A good friend of mine suffered from cystic acne for many years and had rather severe scars as a result. She initially preferred the thought of fraxel laser treatments and did have quite a few of them. Unfortunately, the lack of results was quite shocking when you consider the cost. There were no changes in the appearance of her skin at all. After some thinking, she made an appointment for dermabrasion and now looks positively amazing. Yes, some traces of scars are left, but absolutely nothing like what it was before and she is over the moon with the results. Dermabrasion really does work, even for severe cystic acne scars.

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Now that I have a little more time, I thought I would come back to this thread and mention some of the potential side effects of dermabrasion. It is quite an invasive procedure and I believe it is important to be aware of the risks fully before taking the plunge. 

  • Redness and swelling are inevitable following a dermabrasion. This may get better very quickly, but can also persist for much longer.
  • While your skin is swollen and inflamed, your pore size will increase. This subsides again after the swelling does.
  • Some people experience acne outbreaks following dermabrasion, something you especially want to be concerned about.
  • Hyperpigmentation is another possible side effect, along with long-term scarring. 
  • Infection is always possible if protocols are not followed at any stage of the procedure or healing process.

Rosie

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So I understand that microdermabrasion is not effective for truly DEEP acne scars, wrinkles and pigment issues but you could easily get away with having microdermabrasion vs dermabrasion for more surface level issues. Since the risks are lower and the recovery period easier, yeah, I thought I ought to at the very least mention it considering that I can't see your scars and there's a possibility that microdermabrasion could work for you all the same. It's both money and pain you waste if you didn't really need dermabrasion after all, you know what I mean? You need a clinician who will be honest with you about your true needs in any case...

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Make no mistake about it: though most people see dermabrasion as this really scary procedure that rips your skin off and is generally dangerous, as long as you are a good candidate for dermabrasion and your surgeon is reputable and board certified, dermabrasion can make an immense difference to the quality of your skin!

While dermabrasion cannot remove the most severe scars, most acne scars can disappear into the night sky with this procedure. Some downtime is worth it if it means you can look yourself in the mirror and see a completely different face, isn't it?
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Yes, you are quite right. Microdermabrasion is a very good choice for people with active acne and beginning acne scars that are more superficial. This treatment will be plenty good enough for a great many people with acne scars. Cystic acne, however, leaves notoriously deep and difficult to treat scars and in this case the OP will almost certainly need dermabrasion rather than microdermabrasion to rid herself of her scarring.
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