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From anti-aging serums to chemical peels, there are a number of skincare products and procedures that promise to deliver a youthful glow. One such option is dermaplaning. What’s involved in a dermaplaning procedure, and does it really work? Read on as we break it all down.
What is dermaplaning?
Dermaplaning, also known as microplaning or blading, is a skin resurfacing procedure. During a dermaplaning procedure, a healthcare professional uses a scalpel to remove dead skin and facial hairs in order to give your face a smoother, brighter, and younger appearance (Townsend, 2017).
Is dermaplaning basically shaving?
Dermaplaning and shaving both involve using a blade against the face, but that’s where the similarities end.
Dermaplaning uses a special scalpel, while shaving uses a razor blade. Shaving focuses on removing hair from the face, while dermaplaning focuses on deep exfoliation, removing the top layer of skin, peach fuzz, and other debris. Another key difference between dermaplaning and shaving is the expertise required. Anyone can shave, but it’s safest to leave dermaplaning to the professionals (Townsend, 2017).
How does dermaplaning work?
The skin on our faces encounters a lot—from harsh UV rays to air pollution. These elements can dull the skin and lead to uneven skin texture (Zhang, 2018). By removing the top layer of skin, dermaplaning aims to reverse that process, revealing a newer layer of skin underneath that looks brighter and smoother (Townsend, 2017).
Dermaplaning vs. microdermabrasion
Both dermaplaning and microdermabrasion offer similar cosmetic results by removing the top layer of skin on the face. The main difference between dermaplaning and microdermabrasion is the tool used (Shah, 2022; Bedford, 2021).
Dermaplaning uses a scalpel, while microdermabrasion uses a rough brush or vacuum system that rotates at high speed and pushes gentle crystals against the skin to exfoliate it (Shah, 2022; Bedford, 2021).
Dermaplaning is also gentler than microdermabrasion or chemical exfoliation, making it a better option for people with more sensitive skin or certain allergies, like an aluminum allergy (Shah, 2022; Townsend, 2017). Talk to a dermatologist about the best option for you.
How to get rid of dead skin on your face
Is dermaplaning good for your face?
Beyond providing you with a youthful glow and brighter skin, dermaplaning may have other benefits. Temporary cosmetic benefits of dermaplaning may include (Townsend, 2017; Shah, 2022; Bedford, 2021):
- Removing vellus hairs, or “peach fuzz”
- Minimizing fine lines and wrinkles
- Improving the face’s moisture retention
- Reducing hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone
- Reducing the appearance of scars from acne or other causes
- Improving the appearance of sun-damaged or dry skin
However, these benefits are anecdotal and not yet proven by research. Your mileage may vary based on your skin type, medical history, and the professional performing the procedure (Pryor, 2011).
What are the side effects of dermaplaning?
Dermaplaning is generally considered safe when it is performed by a professional, such as a trained and licensed dermatologist or plastic surgeon. However, you may experience side effects, such as (ASPS, n.d.):
- Redness on the face
- Enlarged pores
- Lighter or darker spots
- Burning or tingling on the face
Most of these side effects resolve within a few days. However, some people may experience permanent changes in skin color or pigmentation. Also, while rare, some people have reported scars or infections after a dermaplaning procedure (Hoss, 2020; Bedford, 2021; ASPS, n.d.).
Some people are also more at risk from a dermaplaning procedure. People with herpes, HIV, or inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea should check with a healthcare provider before scheduling a dermaplaning procedure (Shah, 2022; Bedford, 2021).
Also, people with darker skin types may be more likely to experience permanent discoloration or hyperpigmentation from dermaplaning. Finally, if you are taking any medications, such as isotretinoin for acne, let the professional performing your procedure know beforehand as the drugs may be contraindicated in people getting the procedure (Shah, 2022; Bedford, 2021).
Mottled skin: causes, symptoms, and when to be concerned
What to expect from a dermaplaning treatment
Interested in what happens during a dermaplaning treatment? The procedure itself is non-invasive, and recovery is minimal (Pryor, 2011; Townsend, 2017). It’s also relatively short, taking only 30 to 60 minutes or so (Shah, 2022). Here’s what you can expect.
Preparing for dermaplaning
You can schedule a dermaplaning procedure with a licensed esthetician, plastic surgeon, or dermatologist. Limit sun exposure before your appointment, and arrive with a clean face and no makeup on (Bedford, 2021; Townsend, 2017).
During your procedure
First, the professional will wash and clean your face. Once your face is completely dry, they will start dermaplaning. They will use a sterilized 10-gauge scalpel to make quick, feathery motions against your face with your skin pulled tautly.
The dermaplaning procedure itself may take 30 minutes. It is not painful, but if you are concerned, you can ask for a numbing spray, local anesthesia, or an oral sedative to relax you (Townsend, 2017; Shah, 2022).
When the procedure is done, the professional may apply a hyaluronic serum and sunscreen to your face. They’ll also give you any aftercare instructions (Townsend, 2017). Typically, this involves limiting your sun exposure for a few days and wearing moisturizer and sunscreen with high SPF whenever you’re outside.
Daily moisturizer and sunscreen are key steps in any skincare routine, but they’re especially important after dermaplaning because your skin is more sensitive to sun damage. Too much sun can cause blotchy skin or patches of hyperpigmentation, so wear SPF to avoid undoing the effects of the procedure (Bedford, 2021; Shah, 2022).
Skin bleaching: what is it, products, side effects, risks
Can I try dermaplaning at home?
Yes, you can try at-home dermaplaning, but since you’ll be working with a sharp blade, you may be more likely to cut yourself and cause an infection or scars. You may also not achieve the results you want. For optimal results and safety, dermaplaning should be performed by someone with professional training, like a licensed esthetician, plastic surgeon, or dermatologist (Pryor, 2011).
Aside from dermaplaning, there are other things you can do at home for a fresher face, including exfoliation treatments with scrubs, rollers, or wands. Chemical peels that contain mild alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acids can also be used safely at home (Rodan, 2016). There are also other options for facial hair removal like shaving, threading, and waxing.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). (n.d.). Dermabrasion Risks and Safety. Retrieved June 13, 2022 from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/dermabrasion/safety
- Bedford, L. & Daveluy, S. (2021). Skin Resurfacing Dermabrasion. StatPearls. Retrieved June 13, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558955/
- Hoss, E. (2020). Dermabrasion. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003247.htm
- Pryor, L., Gordon, C. R., Swanson, E. W., et al. (2011). Dermaplaning, topical oxygen, and photodynamic therapy: a systematic review of the literature. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 35(6), 1151–1159. doi:10.1007/s00266-011-9730-z. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21533984/
- Rodan, K., Fields, K., Majewski, G., et al. (2016). Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 4(12). doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000001152. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28018771/
- Shah, M. & Crane, J. S. (2022). Microdermabrasion. StatPearls. Retrieved June 13, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535383/
- Townsend, R. (2017). The Use of Advance Dermaplaning in Clinical Skin Care and Treatment. Clinical Dermatology Research Journal, 2(2), 1–3. Retrieved from https://www.scitechnol.com/peer-review/the-use-of-advance-dermaplaning-in-clinical-skin-care-and-treatment-mXJp.pdf
- Zhang, S. & Duan, E. (2018). Fighting against Skin Aging: The Way from Bench to Bedside. Cell Transplantation, 27(5), 729–738. doi:10.1177/0963689717725755. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29692196/
Dr. Chimene Richa is a board-certified Ophthalmologist and Senior Medical Writer/Reviewer at Ro.