Could Microdermabrasion Be Dangerous? Next Generation Treatments Alleviate Old Risks

Source: Grace Gold

From DIY scrubs to spas to doctor’s offices, microdermabrasion is the skin-beautifying treatment du jour.

Marketed as a non-surgical, safe and even relaxing way to get glowing skin, the traditional method most commonly blasts aluminum oxide crystals to sand the skin, and then suctions up the exfoliated dead cells and crystals with a vacuum.

But leading experts in the industry now warn of the potential dangers and side effects of the aluminum oxide crystals of yesterday, and say that a new generation of microdermabrasion technology has the potential to exfoliate the skin more safely and effectively.

“Microdermabrasion can be viewed as a medical treatment, even though it can be received in non-medical settings, and in some cases, post-treatment reactions are more intense. Some complications we read about were intense redness, infections, streaking from pressure on the probe, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation,” says P&G senior scientist Laura Goodman, who recently studied available methods of microdermabrasion on the market while creating a product for skincare brand DDF.

And as anyone who has had microdermabrasion knows, the aluminum oxide crystals often scatter haphazardly into hair, lashes and ears — which is not only bothersome, but possibly a health danger too.

“Crystals can cause irritation to the skin and eye exposure can cause corneal scratches and abrasions. Inhalation of the crystals and specifically the powder from the crystals can result in lung irritation and asthma exacerbation, which is more of a health concern for the professional administering the treatments,” says Dr. Matthew Schulman, assistant professor of plastic surgery at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

There is also a safety concern for both moms-to-be and new moms.

“Aluminum oxide exposure has not been studied in child development and should therefore be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” advises Dr. Schulman.
Controversial links between aluminum in personal care products and increased rates of Alzheimer’s disease and breast and prostrate cancer are currently being studied, though the FDA says there is no conclusive evidence that would warrant regulation of products containing aluminum at the present time.

Two promising options have emerged in both the professional and at-home skincare market, that claim the same or better results without the baggage and possible side effects that come with aluminum oxide crystals.

For professionals, the Pristine Diamond Peel machine by Viora features a new generation diamond tip that exfoliates skin without the use of any crystals. The tips come in different levels of coarseness, so treatment can be customized to the patient’s skin type or to specific areas of the face.

StyleList recommends you chose a skilled and experienced professional if you go this route, as diamond tips can be abrasive if not used by experienced hands. Dr. Schulman uses the Pristine machine in his own office with much success.

“I truly believe that this crystal-free system is far superior to the traditional crystal systems. There is less irritation, it is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and there is none of the annoying residual crystals in hair, nose and ears that can persist for days. Also, this system allows treatment of the sensitive areas around the eye without fear of eye injury,” says Dr. Schulman.

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