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Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion has become all the rage in cosmetic procedures to make you look younger.


It is a mild form of skin sanding that uses aluminum crystals to restore skin's youthful glow. The ads promoting it are everywhere, touting benefits like smoothing fine lines, acne scars and even fading discolorations.


"Patients love the procedure," Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York dermatologist, tells CBS 2's Paul Moniz. "After one time you feel that your skin is a lot smoother."


But before you have it, Dr. James Spencer, the director of dermatologic surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says there's a number of things you should know.


First, microdermabrasion is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. "Microdermabrasion is literally characterized as a cosmetic, like a tube of lipstick and manufacturers are under no obligation to prove it's effective," Dr. Spencer explains. Second, while it's generally considered safe, there are no studies to prove it works long-term.


Dr Spencer is in the process of performing a study to determine whether microdermabrasion actually works by changing the skin. In one test, he cranked up the peel machine to the highest level, blasted his forearm with the crystals then took slides of his skin. His arm stayed pink for about a week but under the lens he could see no change.


"When you look under the microscope, you don't see any of the outer layer removed," he says.


But other dermatologists, such as Dr Debra Jaliman, insist the procedure cannot be judged after one session.


"If you were to go exercise once, you wouldn't see a change in your body," she explains. "It's the same thing with this treatment; it's more gradual than something like a full face laser treatment."


But it can be expensive: at $200 to $250 per treatment, patients can expect to lay out $1,000 or more to see noticeable results.


And patients must return for maintenance, depending on their skin type, as often as every two months or as little as once a year. Yet many swear by the peel because it only take about 20 minutes, requires no down time and causes only a hint of redness.


Because there's no government regulation, microdermabrasion is widely available in beauty salons and spas and there's no guarantee the person performing the procedure is trained properly.


For example, if you don't wear goggles, the crystals which sand down the skin can scratch the corneas of your eye. Also, you can suffer bruising if the machine is set too high.


The bottom line: before considering this procedure, talk to a doctor.

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