ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Aggressive microdermabrasion appears to improve the appearance of aged human skin, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
"The significance of this study lies in the fact that this procedure is minimally wounding," says Darius J. Karimipour, M.D., who conducted the research while a clinical assistant professor in the University of Michigan Health System's department of Dermatology. He now has a private practice.
"Healing occurs in the course of a day instead of weeks to months as is seen with other procedures that improve sun-damaged skin," he adds.
Aggressive microdermabrasion involves either sand-blasting the skin with aluminum oxide crystals or buffing the skin using a hand piece studded with minute diamond crystals. In order to objectively change the appearance of wrinkled skin, this procedure would have to induce the production of collagen, the major structural protein in the skin.
Previous studies have shown that microdermabrasion using aluminum oxide may not always stimulate collagen production. However, the authors of this study wondered if increasing the aggressiveness with which microdermabrasion was performed would stimulate more collagen production.
Microdermabrasion, a popular procedure for skin rejuvenation, has been suggested to improve the appearance of wrinkles, atrophic acne scars, discoloration and other signs of aging skin, according to the authors of the study.
"Our study shows that microdermabrasion, if performed aggressively, can stimulate a wound healing response that may correct adverse changes in sun damaged or wrinkled skin," says Karimipour, the study's lead author.
Karimipour and a team of U-M researchers conducted a biochemical analysis of skin biopsy specimens before and four hours to 14 days after a microdermabrasion procedure. Forty adults age 50 to 83 years old with sun-damaged skin on their arms volunteered to participate in the study. Each underwent microdermabrasion with a diamond-studded hand piece of either a coarse-grit or medium-grit abrasiveness.
When performed with the coarse-grit hand piece, microdermabrasion resulted in the increased production of a wide variety of compounds associated with wound healing and skin remodeling. This includes cytokeratin 16, a well-characterized response to injuries to the skin's outer layer; antimicrobial peptides that fight infection; matrix metalloproteinases that break down skin's structural proteins to allow for rebuilding; and both collagen precursors and other substances that form the pathway to its production.
These molecular changes were not seen in individuals who received microdermabrasion using the medium-grit hand piece, the authors noted. All patients experienced a mild period of redness that typically lasted less than two hours.
Reference: Arch Dermatol. 2009;145:1114-1122.
Funding: This study was supported by a Dermatology Foundation Clinical Career Development Award in Dermatologic Surgery to Dr. Karimipour and by a University of Michigan Human Appearance Research Fund to the Department of Dermatology.
Additional authors: Laure Rittie, M.S., Ph.D.; Craig Hammerberg, M.S., Ph.D.; Victoria K. Min, B.A.; John J. Voorhees, M.D.; Jeffrey S. Orringer, M.D.; Dana L. Sachs, M.D.; Ted Hamilton, M.S.; Gary J. Fisher, Ph.D.