microdermabrasion for acne scars

Microdermabrasion For Acne Scars: Cost, Effectiveness, Risks

General, Skin Conditions, Treatments

Microdermabrasion for acne scars rejuvenates the skin to reduce visible scarring. With microdermabrasion for acne, only the most upper layers of the skin are removed. This promotes exfoliation and the regeneration of a rejuvenated, smoother skin surface. Microdermabrasion for acne is sometimes referred to as “skin polishing”.

How Does Microdermabrasion For Acne Scars Work?

One form of microdermabrasion for acne is a “sandblasting” technique. Tiny crystals of aluminum oxide or sodium bicarbonate are “sprayed” over the skin surface. These abrasive crystals remove the outer layers of the skin. A newer method of microdermabrasion uses diamond tips that brush over the surface of the skin. Both methods use a vacuum to suction away the exfoliated skin cells.


Most people undergoing microdermabrasion for acne scars will need ten sessions or even more to achieve maximum results. Each session will cost around $150, so the total treatment cost can approach $2000. Keep in mind that other expenses such as travel costs, consultation fees, and aftercare products will add to the overall cost.

Old Skin Make Way For New Skin:

With microdermabrasion for acne, sloughing of the upper layers of the skin occurs. This stimulates the production of a new upper skin layer. New collagen is also made deeper on the skin’s dermis. The new skin created has improved firmness, tone, and improved pigmentation. Skin appears lighter and brighter. New collagen formation helps atrophic acne scars to appear shallower and less indented. Even wrinkles are improved with repeated treatments. A further advantage of microdermabrasion for acne is that the removal of the outer skin layers helps your other skincare products to more easily penetrate the skin.

How Microdermabrasion For Acne Scars Is Done:

A microdermabrasion session generally begins with a facial wash to remove makeup, oils, and other skin impurities. The process is done with you fully awake and no anesthesia is needed. Microdermabrasion for acne session takes about 15 to 40 minutes to complete depending on the extent of the case and amount of skin surface involved. After the session is complete, a cooling and soothing mask such as a collagen application is used. This helps to nourish and hydrate the skin.

Benefits Of Microdermabrasion For Acne:

Acne scars benefit from microdermabrasion the appearance of your skin in three main ways:

Acne Scar Improvement

A healthy, new skin layer looks smoother and superficial acne scars blend better into the surrounding skin.

Decreased Pigmentation

Blotchy hyperpigmentation that is associated with inflammatory acne is reduced over time and with multiple sessions of microdermabrasion. Other topicals, such as hydroquinones, used to reduce hyperpigmentation will also work more efficiently by penetrating the skin’s surface more effectively.

Reduce Acne Breakouts

Microdermabrasion will also help to minimize acne breakouts. By unclogging pores, acne flare-ups are less common. With fewer and less severe acne breakouts, future scarring can also be minimized.

Microdermabrasion For Acne Recovery:

One of the best aspects of microdermabrasion for acne scars is the very minimal recovery and downtime. You’ll initially look mildly red as if you have a mild sunburn. This will clear up after a day or two. Pain is minimal or none at all. Exercise and work can resume within a day or two. You can resume your normal facial routine after about 24 hours. You’ll need to wear a good quality sunscreen (SPF 50 or more) after microdermabrasion for acne treatment. This is necessary to prevent hyperpigmentation from the sun’s UV rays.

How Many Microdermabrasion For Acne Scars Sessions?

You will see results immediately in terms of a rejuvenated, more glowing look to the skin, Depending on the extent and severity of your acne scars, up to 10 sessions or more will be needed to see maximum scar improvement results. These sessions are usually done every 2 weeks or so. 

Which Scars Does It Work For?

Being a gentler and less invasive treatment than other acne scar therapies such as dermabrasion and lasers, microdermabrasion is best suited for superficial and relatively shallow boxcar and rolling acne scars. It has little benefit and is probably not worthwhile for ice pick and even deeper rolling and boxcar acne scars. Microdermabrasion kits for DIY use are available on the market, but the effectiveness of these units is highly questionable when it comes to microdermabrasion for acne scars.

Before And Afters:

Microdermabrasion for acne scars and hyperpigmentation
Microdermabrasion for acne scars and hyperpigmentation results. (Credit: Dr. Chen Tai Ho)
Microdermabrasion for acne scars, rolling, and boxcar types. (Credit: Dr. Chen Tai Ho)

Complications Of Microderabrasion For Acne Scars:

Complications and side effects of microdermabrasion for acne scars are more common in people with darker skin tones. These include:

  • hypopigmentation (skin lightening)
  • hyperpigmentation (skin darkening)
  • hypertrophic scarring – more likely if the treatment is performed too agressively


Microdermabrasion for acne scars is a proven method with little downtime and recovery. Because of its less invasive nature, microdermabrasion is generally only effective for more superficial boxcar and rolling acne scars. Deeper scars and icepick scars are usually not considered for microdermabrasion treatments. Complications such as pigmentary changes can occur and are most common in darker-skinned people.

Medical References:

Gozali, Maya Valeska, and Bingrong Zhou. “Effective treatments of atrophic acne scars.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 8,5 (2015): 33-40.

Shah M, Crane JS. Microdermabrasion. [Updated 2021 Apr 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535383/

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