Dermabrasion is used for specific areas of the face more often than laser resurfacing or chemical peeling because it is less likely to cause pigmentary changes by injuring the pigment-containing melanocytes. When laser resurfacing and chemical peeling are applied to only a portion of the face, they often leave lines of demarcation between treated and untreated regions.
Dermabrasion, however, can soften sharp edges of demarcated scars, making them inconspicuous. In addition, dermabrasion may be much less costly to the patient than laser resurfacing or chemical peeling.
The high concentration of pilosebaceous glands and the rich vascular network of the face aid in wound healing.
This makes the face the most common and ideal site for dermabrasion, although other areas of the body can also undergo dermabrasion. The results of dermabrasion on areas other than the face are satisfactory but not as good, and scar formation is often increased.
Carbon dioxide resurfacing, Er:YAG resurfacing, and deep chemical peels may improve facial rhytides, but dermabrasion proves as efficacious or more efficacious at removal of both fine and moderate facial rhytides, with a slightly lower risk of permanent hypopigmentation.
The major disadvantage of dermabrasion compared with other modalities is that it is much more operator dependent. Unlike laser and light devices, the depth of penetration is not preprogrammed. Successful treatment relies not only on the physician’s knowledge of the modality and application settings, but also on his or her skilled execution. In the novice’s hands, dermabrasion exhibits a narrower window or buffer between effective treatment depth and inappropriate scarring depth. However, this can be quickly overcome with experience.