Background: Aluminum oxide crystal microdermabrasion has recently become popular for facial rejuvenation. Although it is a widely used technique with perceptible benefits, the clinical efficacy on photodamaged skin has yet to be established.
Objective: To measure and quantify the effect of microdermabrasion on photodamaged skin.
Methods: Ten subjects underwent one treatment a week for five to six treatments. Skin surface roughness, topography, elasticity, stiffness, compliance, temperature, sebum content, and histology were analyzed.
Results: Subjectively, seven patients noticed a mild improvement. Physician analysis of clinical photography indicated mild improvement in the majority of patients. Objectively, immediately following treatment skin temperature increased, sebum content decreased, and a temporary increase in skin roughness and mild flattening of some wrinkles occurred. Dynamic skin analysis demonstrated a perceptible decrease in skin stiffness and an increase in skin compliance. Histology showed slight orthokeratosis and flattening of rete ridges and a perivascular mononuclear cell infiltrate, edema, and vascular ectasia in the upper reticular dermis 1 week after completion of the series of treatments.
Conclusion: Immediately following the procedure, changes occurring in skin characteristics can be measured that are consistent with mild abrasion and increased blood flow. Objective biomechanical analysis demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in skin stiffness and an increase in skin compliance consistent with persistent edema. Subjectively, patients and physicians report a mild improvement in the majority of subjects. Histology showed dramatic vascular changes in the reticular dermis below the level of direct abrasion. The effect of negative pressure may result in these vascular changes.