Statement Describing the Challenge

Dermabrasion is a facial procedure which treats a variety of skin conditions, including wrinkles, skin lesions, pigmentation, sun spots, and scarring caused by severe acne, an accident, or tattooing. Dermabrasion involves removing the top layer of skin. This treatment is different from microdermabrasion, which is an exfoliating procedure that removes dead skin cells and cleanses pores; it is less harsh than dermabrasion and less effective in treating deep facial scars. Because dermabrasion is a treatment, and I cannot very well analyze the different types of “treatments” of it, therefore I will compare dermabrasion with two other types of procedures which treat the same conditions. These other procedures are chemical peels and soft tissue fillers. In the three sections below, I will describe these treatments in further detail. Unfortunately, the conditions that dermabrasion, chemical peels and facial fillers treat are largely unavoidable, particularly scarring that comes from severe acne, which is typically inherited, scarring that comes from accidents, or wrinkles which simply come with age. However, healthy skin is always best maintained with daily use of sunscreen and daily cleansing. Fortunately, almost all facial scarring or facial lesions, etc. are benign, and are primarily a cosmetic concern. For many people, improving their skin condition greatly enhances their self confidence. Selecting the right doctor for any procedure is important for your safety and your satisfaction with the results. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides a list at which shows where you can look up the credentials of physicians; the site also describes questions you should ask before pursuing a cosmetic procedure. Although much information is available on the Internet, consulting with a doctor will help determine the best treatment for an individual’s condition. Finally, it is important that individuals seeking a treatment like dermabrasion have realistic expectations about the results. Indeed, most cosmetic skin treatments produce impressive results, but one must be able to accept that a scar may not be “removed” but it can be significantly lightened and/or softened.

Non-Drug Treatments

DERMABRASION [NOTE: Michael said I could change the sections, since I can’t analyze the treatments of a treatment.] Dermabrasion has commonly been administered using a small sanding wheel, although recently laser resurfacing (using a CO2 or Erbium:YAG laser) has become an ideal treatment because it is more convenient to use and results in hardly any blood (which means quicker recovery time). Patients are treated with general or local anesthesia, and depending on the harshness of the procedure, some pain will be felt. Dermabrasion (as well as chemical peels and soft tissue fillers) are almost exclusively facial treatments, but may also be used on face, neck or chest.

Alternative Medicine Treatments

CHEMICAL PEELS Similar to dermabrasion, chemical peels remove a layer of skin to reveal a healthier, smoother layer underneath. In this case, however, a caustic chemical is applied to the skin, left on for a certain amount of time, then removed. Some degree of anesthesia and sedatives are used to reduce discomfort. Chemical peels are a promising alternative to dermabrasion/laser resurfacing because they are less expensive. Mild chemical peels result in little or no downtime, and moderate peels necessitate about two weeks of downtime. Mild peels use fruit acids such as salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid; moderate peels use trichoracetic acid.

Drug Therapy

SOFT TISSUE FILLERS Soft tissue fillers (also called dermal fillers or injectable fillers) are aptly named—they fill in cracks (wrinkles, scars) in the skin. Therefore, they are not the best choice if one wants to achieve an overall smooth, even look, but they work well to fill in deep scars or wrinkles. Fillers are made of hyaluronic acid, which naturally occurs in the skin. This means it blends in well with skin, but also means that fillers absorb into the skin and may need to be maintained about every six months. Common FDA-approved fillers include Restylane, Perlane, Silikon 1000, and Juvederm.