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Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure that uses fine crystals and a vacuum to remove dead skin cells on the face.

The aim is to reduce the effect of fine lines and minor skin blemishes.

It works on all skin types and shouldn't cause any skin colour changes or scarring.

Before you go ahead

Be aware that microdermabrasion can be expensive and has its limitations.

Cost: In the UK, microdermabrasion costs £40-80 for a single session.

Limitations: It’s not effective for scars, stretch marks, deep wrinkles or acne scars.

Safety:  Take time to find a reputable practitioner who is properly qualified and practises in a clean, safe and appropriate environment. Ask the practitioner what you should do if something were to go wrong.

What it involves

You may be given medication to relax you before the procedure begins. Local anaesthetic isn’t necessary.

The practitioner uses a handheld device to direct a fine stream of tiny crystals across the skin to loosen any dead cells and vacuum them away.

The procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. A course of four to six sessions may be recommended.

It shouldn't be painful.


The side effects of microdermabrasion, such as redness and swelling, tend to be short-lived.

Your skin may be dry and flaky for a few days after the procedure, and the suction may temporarily bruise your skin.

Your face would be more sensitive to the sun afterwards, so you should avoid sun exposure for a few days and use sunscreen.

What to do if you have problems

If you're not happy with the results or are experiencing problems, take up the matter with your practitioner through the clinic where you were treated.

If there are any complications that require medical attention, it is best that you go back to the practitioner who treated you. If this is not possible, you can go to your GP or local accident and emergency (A&E) department.

Page last reviewed: 19 May 2016
Next review due: 19 May 2019