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What are the Most Common Side Effects of Microdermabrasion?

Anna T.
Updated May 21, 2024
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The most common side effects of microdermabrasion may be mild skin irritation, an increase in acne, and some skin discoloration. People with sensitive skin are usually more prone to microdermabrasion side effects than people who do not have sensitive skin. The skin discoloration side effect also seems to be more pronounced in people who naturally have darker skin. People who have microdermabrasion to help with their acne symptoms and acne scarring may also have more breakouts than usual for a few weeks after the procedure. Most of the microdermabrasion side effects are temporary and relieve themselves once the skin has had time to heal.

There are probably very few people who do not experience some skin irritation after having microdermabrasion done. When microdermabrasion is performed, the entire top layer of the skin is removed. This usually causes skin irritation that many people would find similar to a sunburn. Redness, itchiness, and flakiness or peeling of the skin are side effects of microdermabrasion often reported by people who have just had the procedure. Once the skin has had a chance to heal, these side effects typically disappear.

Many people have microdermabrasion done to help with their acne. For this reason, it may come as a surprise to these people when acne tends to worsen just after a microdermabrasion procedure. Even though microdermabrasion can often greatly help both acne and acne scarring, acne tends to become worse just after the procedure because of the trauma to the skin and because the microdermabrasion helps to unclog the pores. When pores become unclogged from microdermabrasion, bacteria is normally released from the pores, and this bacteria may linger on the skin's surface, temporarily increasing the likelihood of acne spot formation. Most people report that this side effect of microdermabrasion disappears within a few weeks after the procedure is complete.

Skin discoloration could be the most problematic of all the side effects of microdermabrasion. People who have lighter skin usually don't experience this problem to a great degree, but people with darker skin often do. After microdermabrasion, a person with dark skin might notice that she has some light patches where there were none before. This discoloration is often not permanent, but it may persist for quite a long time before the skin tone goes back to normal. Many people are able to deal with this side effect by using foundation on their skin to give it a more even color all over.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Anna T.
By Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to BeautyAnswered. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
Discussion Comments
By anon996084 — On Jul 07, 2016

Just a tip--I used a moisturizer from a Japanese skin care line called Yu-Be for my dry skin after microdermabrasion and it really, really helped. I found it to be more heavy-duty than some more fragrance-y or make up-y moisturizers, so it did the trick fast.

By anon994833 — On Mar 10, 2016

I had microdermabrasion (course of 6) 18 months ago and my skin is flaky and dry ever since. I have to exfoliate daily to get rid of the dead skin. Never before I needed exfoliation before. This procedure should be approached with extreme care.

By anon990546 — On Apr 27, 2015

I had the microdermabrasion done just before an event two weeks back. After I came home, I started noticing scars on my face where it started to burn when I was having this procedure. Later I had the flaking of the skin and now when all the flakes are gone, I see a scar on my face. The spa who made this procedure says it is hyperpigmentation. I am worried if this is a permanent scar.

By anon349725 — On Sep 28, 2013

It feels like my skin is just secreting oil after the microderm.

By cindysilva — On Jun 06, 2013

I just had a microdermabrasion done two days ago I felt the itchy feeling after the procedure, but I did not feel anything the day after. I went for a run because it was cloudy and I used sunscreen spf55 and I used a cap. I came home from my run on the third day and my face was itchy again. Should I be worried? I have no break outs but will I get some? I did it to remove sun damage.

By anon337484 — On Jun 05, 2013

How long will the dry, flaky skin last? I had the procedure done nine days ago and my cheeks are so dry and scale like and really flaking. It seems to be not improvement. I have been moisturizing.

By SteamLouis — On Jan 04, 2013

I made a huge mistake by getting microdermabrasion. I had the worst acne breakout of my life afterward. It got rid of the acne blemishes first and then created new ones because of the breakout.

By donasmrs — On Jan 03, 2013

@anamur-- Yes, microdermabrasion can cause dry skin and flaking. Don't worry, your skin will recover soon. Until then, apply a mild moisturizer regularly to keep your face hydrated so that it doesn't get worse. Once the flaking and dryness is gone, it will look a lot better.

Also, don't be surprised if you experience excessive oily skin after your skin has recovered. Microdermabrasion strips the oil from the skin which causes the oil glands to work more than usual to make up for it. So you will probably get very oily skin after dry skin and it might take a few weeks for everything to settle down.

By serenesurface — On Jan 03, 2013

I had microdermabrasion done last week as an acne scar treatment. However, I've been experiencing flaky skin ever since the treatment. I normally have oily skin but since the microdermabrasion, my skin is terribly dry and flaking everywhere. It's like I'm a different person with a different skin type.

I'm really worried about the flaking. I was expecting some irritation and redness, but not this. Will it go away soon?

Anna T.
Anna T.
Anna Thurman is a skilled writer who lends her talents to BeautyAnswered. Her ability to research and present information in an engaging and accessible manner allows her to create content that resonates with readers across a wide range of subjects.
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