Dermabrasion is a useful and widely practiced procedure for burn scars that are superficial
in nature and may not require advanced surgical intervention. When performing dermabrasion, the plastic surgeon attempts to enhance or
reduce the appearance of a burn scars. This usually improves the disfigurement and restores the usage of the burned area.
The instrument used, a dermatome, is most over what is
used to remove the scars. It looks like an electric razor and works like a wood plane. When turned on, the dermatome's oscillating cutting
edge spins rapidly.
Prior to surgery, a complete medical history is taken and a careful examination is conducted. This is done in order
to evaluate the general health of the patient. During the consultation, the dermatologic surgeon describes the types of anesthesia that
may be used, the procedure, and what results might realistically be expected. The doctor also explains the possible risks and complications
that may occur. Before and after photographs are taken in order to help evaluate the amount of improvement. Preoperative and postoperative
instructions are given to the patient during this meeting.
The dermatologic surgeon moves the dermatome gently on the surface of the scars. By shaving and scraping off layers
of the scar (skin), the dermabrasion smooths the scar tissue. Dermabrasion takes only a few minutes if it is being performed on a small
area. For larger areas, the procedure may take about 90 minutes.
Dermabrasion is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. Local anesthesia and a
sedative to relieve tension is used. Depending on the situation, sometimes a numbing spray is used instead
of a local anesthetic, or the two may be used in combination. For many burn survivors, extensive work is performed. This causes a
brief hospital stay for many burn survivors.
When this procedure is over, the skin will like a red brush burn or shallow wound and is tender. The wound takes
a few weeks to heal. Though dermabrasion smoothes the surface of the scar it will not remove the scar. Unfortionately Scars are permanent.
The scars appearance should improve over time.
Repeat procedures are sometimes required.
For a few days after dermabrasion, your skin may feel as though it were severely sunburned. It is usually red and
swollen. Simple tasks like eating and talking may become difficult. You may also feel some tingling, burning, and aching that can be controlled
by medication. Most people do not experience severe pain.
You may find a crust forming over the treated area. It will fade away during the healing process. The skin underneath
the surgery, will be tight and pink. As the new skin grows, the area(s) may itch as the new skin grows. You will find that your skin in
the areas of the dermabrsion are be slightly swollen, sensitive, and bright pink for several weeks after dermabrasion. Non-allergenic cosmetics
can be worn as soon as the skin is healed.
Frequent showers and use of emollients can help to speed up the recovery. Men who
had dermabrsion performed on their face, should not to shave for several days and then to use an electric razor until the skin is
completely healed. The healing process usually takes ten days.
What To Do After Dermabrasion
- For ten days after the procedure, it is very important that you follow the instructions in the
wound care sheet, usually given to you by the nurse either before or after the sugery.
The wound care usually consists of treating the area(s) with an ointment, a wet or waxy dressing, dry treatment or a combination of these.
The nurse or the doctor usually goes over the wound care work with you. If you have any questions do not hesitate to ask the doctor or
- Avoid any activity that might cause a bump on the face for at least two weeks.
- Chlorinated swimming pools should be avoided for at least four weeks.
- Any activity in sports such as ball games should be avoided for four to six weeks.
- Avoid exposure to sunlight for at least six months. If you are going to sit out in the sun, it
is required that you apply a strong sunscreen, usually an SPF 45. For three months after the dermabrasion you must put sunscreen on those
areas. You can learn more about sunscreen and sun safety at: Sun,
Sun Safety and Sun Damage
This must be done to keep the skin from becoming dark and blotchy.
- If a large area has been dermabraded, the doctor will usually give you medications to take after
- Let the doctor know if you have an area of persistent redness lasting for 10 days or more after
the procedure. This could be a sign that a scar is forming. The doctor may inject the area with cortisone or give you a cortisone ointment
to apply to the area.
- If you develop yellow crusting, let the doctor know immediately. This could be the beginning of
- If you have had acne, you should talk to your doctor about taking tetracycline, an antibiotoc, for one month after a dermabrasion.
This is usually prescribed to patients who have dermabrasion.
- It is suggested that you do not use Retin-A on your face for one month after your dermabrasion.
Possible Risks and Complications
The skin that is dermabraded can end up looking darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. This can usually be treated,
but can be permanent. If this does occur you may want to look into having Permanent Cosmetics performed. You can learn more about permanent
cosmetics at Permanent Cosmetics Articles List
The scar does not usually end up looking worse. But you must be aware that sometimes
new scars can form. The new scars may look worse. You will have to weigh out the pros and cons prior to the sugery. There is no guarantee
that the dermabrasion p
rocedure will not end up making you look worse.
How Effective Is Dermabrasion?
It is important to protect the skin for 6 to 12 months until the pigment has completely
returned. The skin pinkness will take about 3 months to fade. When full re-pigmentation has returned the skin should closely match the