Microdermabrasion was first introduced into the UK in 1997, and has since grown to become one of the most popular non-invasive cosmetic procedures. Also known as a 'lunchtime facial', microdermabrasion is a fast, painless and effective beauty treatment, which leaves the skin looking fresh and glowing with health. Long a favourite of 'A' list stars, the procedure reduces the appearance of fine lines, and opens up the pores in the skin, allowing them to breath. Essentially the skin's outer layer (epidermis) is exfoliated by tiny crystals sprayed across it using a microdermabrasion device.
This removes the outer layers of skin and stimulates the production of collagen, reducing defects and making the skin appear more youthful. Hundreds of thousands of British women undergo microdermabrasion treatments every year, and there is normally very little risk attached. In a minority of cases however accidents and injuries do occur during microdermabrasion treatments, and there are a number of dangers that salons need to be aware of and take measures to avoid.
Microdermabrasion is similar in concept to sandblasting. The mechanical device used to perform the treatment bombards the skin with hard, fine microcrystals made of aluminium dioxide, while simultaneously sucking back up the crystals and dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure, in that it can be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, acne scars, laughter lines, sun damage and hyperpigmentation (changes in skin colour). Its collagen-enhancing performance however makes it popular as a regular beauty treatment among all age groups. Microdermabrasion is a delicate procedure, and one that requires considerable skill to perform. If the application device is improperly handled, or used at too high a setting, the microcrystals may penetrate the skin, or break capillaries under the surface. A beauty technician may also be too slow in moving the 'blaster' across the face, or a person's skin may not be in a suitable condition for the treatment in the first place. When microdermabrasion is performed negligently on areas such as the face, the results can be both painful and extremely distressing.
Poor handling of dermabrasion devices may also cause hyperpigmentation, the appearance of patches of lighter or darker skin. This may be either a temporary or permanent condition. Patients must be offered protective eyewear during microdermabrasion treatments, as it is otherwise possible that crystals will enter and become lodged in the eyes. In other cases the microcrystals may be inhaled in excessive quantities causing breathing difficulties, though this is unlikely given that microdermabrasion devices work on a closed-loop system. Cosmetic clinics and beauty salons must also ensure that the microdermabrasion applicator and vacuum they use is disinfected and sanitised between treatments. Lack of hygiene may otherwise cause infections. Inexperienced and poorly trained beauty technicians do make mistakes. When they are handling mechanical devices and performing complex treatments in sensitive areas, the results can be very serious.
Training is important so that beauty technicians can assess individual patients properly, and offer them the best advice. Microdermabrasion is not suitable for teenagers, pregnant women, or those who are breast-feeding, as hormones will effect the outcome of the treatment. There are a number of other 'contra-indications' which make microdermabrasion unsuitable, including severe acne, eczema, dermatitis, diabetes, and those suffering from keratosis. An effective medical consultation will identify these issues, and this should be expected of all cosmetic clinics and beauty salons. Advice should also be given regarding post-treatment care, such as staying out of the sun until the skin has had time to form stronger protective outer layers. Customers for microdermabrasion have a legal right to expect that the treatment will be carried out competently, and that they will receive all the necessary advice from a clinic or salon. Unfortunately microdermabrasion does cause injuries when it is carried out in a negligent manner. In these circumstances an injured person may pursue a claim for compensation against a clinic or salon for pain and suffering, as well as financial losses connected with the injury.