What Is Dermaplaning?

Exfoliation Performed With a Blade Device

Dermaplaning is an exfoliation style of treatment that’s done with a blade. The aim is to remove dead skin cells from the top layer of skin on the face in order to smooth the face, restoring a younger and more radiant complexion. The treatment can also be used to rid the face of short hairs, often called peach fuzz, and remove acne scarring.

Examining the patient's skin with a dermatological lens
Igor Alecsander / Getty Images

Procedure

The process behind a dermaplaning treatment is similar to that of shaving. A sterile blade that's alike to that of a razor is dragged across the face at a 45-degree angle by the dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or certified esthetician performing the treatment.

The blade then removes any dead skin cells, scar tissue, or any excess buildup of dirt or debris that is otherwise causing a dull or uneven appearance of the skin. The procedure is not likely to cause any pain or irritation and can be done in half-hour or less, depending on the extent of treatment required.

A tingling sensation is normal during the treatment. Once the skin is thoroughly exfoliated, a sunscreen and soothing gel or cream will be applied for added protection.

Uses

Many people may opt for a dermaplaning treatment for a variety of different reasons. Those who have dealt with acne scarring may have the procedure done to help rejuvenate their skin. Others choose to have a dermaplaning procedure as a part of their regular skincare routine.

The effects of aging are a reason people turn to dermaplaning. As the body ages, the outer layer of the skin tends to thin and lose its radiance. Environmental irritants can also cause the skin to lose much of its natural glow.

Dermaplaning can help restore that youthful and polished appearance to the skin or to minimize the natural visual effects of getting older and being exposed to the elements.

Practitioners

Because of the high demand for the treatment, it can be available at a variety of different healthcare facilities including a dermatologist’s office, a plastic surgery center, or a spa with certified estheticians. Special certification is required for an esthetician to be able to legally perform the dermaplaning procedure.

Types

Dermaplaning can be done in the care of a licensed practitioner, although many people interested in the procedure have been following the latest trend for a do-it-yourself at-home dermaplaning procedure.

In-Office 

Dermaplaning with a licensed professional is the first and foremost choice when it comes to the procedure. The cost for a dermaplaning treatment can range between $150 to $250, depending on where you choose to go. 

At Home

At-home procedures have been trending recently because they are significantly lower in cost. However, the at-home version of dermaplaning will be less effective because of the difference in tools. It can also lead to more skin irritation due to a lack of skill required to perform the procedure.

Contraindications

Those with certain health conditions should seek professional advice before trying out dermaplaning. Conditions that pose a higher risk include:

  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Skin cancer
  • Sunburn
  • Active skin infection

While it is generally safe for most skin types, those with sensitive skin or with skin conditions such as keratosis pilaris or rosacea may not be eligible for dermaplaining because the risk for adverse side effects greatly increases.

How to Prepare

Prior to your procedure, you will need to have a consultation to discuss your personal skin characteristics with the provider you choose to perform your dermaplaning treatment.

This discussion will help your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine your skin type, coloring, and gather any medical history that may be relevant to the procedure.

Once you have booked your treatment time, you must stay out of the sun for at least one week prior because skin damage or burns can lead to irritation that may cause pain during the procedure.

If you have acne, you will also have to take that into consideration. Any presence of significant acne could cause further skin irritation or tears in the skin caused by the blade going across the raised bumps.

Outcomes and Recovery

There is typically no downtime required, so you can assume your regular activities immediately following treatment provided you stay out of the sun or wear sunscreen and follow your dermatologist's recommendations. Slight redness is expected for one to three days following the treatment but once it subsides, the true picture of its effects will be visible.

The treatment itself is said to remove up to three weeks of dead skin cells from the outermost layer of skin, but the results are temporary. Typical results last up to three weeks, but with an extensive and proper skin care regimen, results may last for up to four weeks.  

Skin Barrier Function and Dermaplaning

The barrier of the skin acts as a protective layer against environmental toxins and regulates water balance within the body. The process of exfoliation can remove keratinized skin cells that cause an upset in the skin barrier function, leading to an accelerated level of skin looseness and dullness.

Many factors can damage the skin barrier including:

  • Overexposure to the sun
  • Environmental factors such as air that’s too dry
  • Skin allergens and irritants
  • Emotional and psychological stress
  • Genetic factors 

When it comes to dermaplaning and skin barrier function, studies have shown that the treatment can help relieve symptoms of some skin conditions such as eczema without further damaging the outermost layer of the skin and its ability to protect further, although it does pose risk to worsen other skin conditions such as acne flare-ups or rosacea.

It’s important to discuss your particular needs with your dermatologist prior to making an appointment for dermaplaning because the level of health of the skin barrier will be a factor in how safe and effective it is. 

Side Effects and Complications

Although dermaplaning is generally deemed low-risk and effective, some people may experience some adverse side effects.

Following the procedure, some people may experience redness on their face in the hours following or a patchy appearance in the area treated. The development of pimples or whiteheads is also possible within one to two days of treatment.

Although it is a common procedure to get to help reduce the look of scars and scar tissue on the face, in rare cases, scarring may occur or become worse. If this happens, treatment with a steroid injection may be necessary to help reduce the thickness of the scar tissue.

A Word From Verywell

Dermaplaning is a generally safe and effective treatment that can liven up your skin. The procedure itself isn’t dangerous and for most people, it can be a great confidence booster.

Great skin starts from hydration and a good skincare routine. Dermaplaning can act as an additional treatment option for those that see the aging process or other environmental factors dull their beautiful faces.

Before undergoing any type of cosmetic treatment, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider to make sure that you are a good candidate. This will help to avoid any potential side effects so you can enjoy the improved appearance of your skin without any downsides or adverse effects.

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