What Is Dermaplaning?

Have you heard of dermaplaning? It's become an increasingly popular treatment for common skin problems such as wrinkles, acne, uneven complexion and dullness. If you suffer from any of these skin conditions, you should consider scheduling an appointment for dermaplaning. Before making the commitment, though, you should first familiarize yourself with the basics of dermaplaning and how it works.

Overview of Dermaplaning

Dermaplaning is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that leverages the properties of exfoliation to treat common skin conditions and, therefore, improve the appearance and health of your skin. The procedure involves the use of a special handheld, electrically powered scalpel known as a dermatome. At the tip of the dermatome is a razor that oscillates back and forth. During a dermaplaning session, the practitioner will gently press the dermatome against the surface of your skin, thereby exfoliating your skin.

Exfoliation is defined as a skin treatment in which dead skin cells are removed from the outer layer of skin. There are numerous ways to exfoliate your skin. Chemicals peels, for example, offer an effective way to remove dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin, or you can use an exfoliating scrub consisting of an abrasive ingredient like salt. Dermaplaning, however, is arguably one of the best methods of exfoliation. It's able to remove a significant amount of dead skin cells, allowing for healthier and more youthful-looking skin.

The dermatome features a blade that scrapes away the dead skin cells so that they don't clog your pores, which could otherwise lead to various skin problems. Exfoliation isn't the only benefit of dermaplaning, though. The procedure is also commonly used to remove vellus hair. The dermatome scrapes away both dead skin cells and vellus hair from the outermost layer of skin.

Dermaplaning vs Dermabrasion: What's the Difference?

Dermaplaning is similar to dermabrasion, with both procedures designed to improve the appearance and softness of the skin. With that said, they aren't exactly the same. As explained by Stanford Health Care, dermabrasion is a surgical procedure that uses a rotating brush to remove the outer layer skin. In comparison, dermaplaning is a cosmetic procedure that uses an oscillating scalpel-like razor to remove the outer layer skin. Both procedures are designed to exfoliate by removing the outer layer of skin, but they use different types of tools to achieve this goal. With dermabrasion, a rotating brush is used. With dermaplaning, an oscillating dermatome is used.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) further explains that dermabrasion is often performed to reduce the appearance of scars. Statistics show roughly 100 million people develop scars each year. Scars often form as a result of physical injury or surgical incisions. Dermabrasion can minimize the appearance of scars, however, by removing the outer layer of skin. Once the outer layer is removed, healthy new skin cells will take its place. ASPS notes, however, that dermaplaning can also be used to treat scars, including acne scars like "ice pick scars."

What Does Dermaplaning Do Exactly?

As previously mentioned, the primary purpose of dermaplaning is to exfoliate the outer layer of skin. Our skin consists of three basic layers: the hypodermis, the dermis and the epidermis. Consisting of fat and connective tissue, the hypodermis is the bottom layer of skin. Above the hypodermis is the dermis, which contains a combination of connective tissue, sweat glands and follicles for hair. The outermost layer of skin is the epidermis. The epidermis acts as a physical barrier between to protect against the intrusion of germs, toxins and foreign substances. Over time, however, dead skin cells can accumulate on the epidermis. If left unchecked, the presence of these dead skin cells can lead to acne breakouts, uneven complexion and other common skin conditions.

Dermaplaning offers a quick and effective way to exfoliate your skin by scraping off dead skin cells from the epidermis. The dermatome, which resembles a scalpel, is glided across the epidermis to remove dead skin cells. The dermatome doesn't actually cut into the epidermis, nor any of the other two layers of skin. It only "glides" across the surface of the epidermis, during which the dermatome removes any lingering dead skin cells.

In addition to removing dead skin cells, dermaplaning also removes small and thin strands of hair known as vellus hair. Vellus hair is commonly associated with peach fuzz. It grows on nearly every part of a person's body. If you run your fingers across your forehead, nose or earlobes, for example, you'll probably feel small strands of hair. It's not the same as the hair that grows on your head. The hair on your head is known as terminal hair, which is darker and thicker than its vellus counterpart. While dermaplaning is capable of removing vellus hair, it's primary purpose is to exfoliate the skin. Nonetheless, many people seek dermaplaning to remove unwanted vellus hair.

Here are some of the common skin conditions dermaplaning is used to treat:

  • Dull skin
  • Uneven complexion
  • Scars
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Unwanted vellus hair (peach fuzz)

What to Expect During a Dermaplaning Session

Now that you know how dermaplaning works, you might be wondering what to expect during a dermaplaning session. Although there are exceptions, a typical dermaplaning session lasts about a half-hour. During the procedure, a practitioner will use a sterilized dermatome -- typically measuring about 10 inches long and featuring a curved, sharp blade -- to scrape away dead skin cells, as well as vellus hair, from your outermost layer of skin.

Many people assume that dermaplaning is a painful procedure given the fact that it uses a scalpel-like tool. While the dermatome tool features a sharp blade, though, the procedure itself is relatively painless. There are other ways to remove unwanted vellus hair, such as waxing and laser. But when compared to waxing and laser, dermaplaning is gentler, less-painful procedure. The dermatome tool won't cut into your skin; it's only designed to glide across the surface of your skin, thereby allowing it to remove dead skin cells and vellus hair.

Keep in mind that because dermaplaning is an exfoliation treatment, you'll get the best results from multiple sessions. Just a single session will offer a noticeable improvement in the appearance of your skin, but for the best results, you may need a series of sessions. You can talk to your practitioner to create a personalized dermaplaning plan that's right for you.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Dermaplaning?

Dermaplaning doesn't require any time for recovery. After the procedure has been performed, you can go back to your normal daily activities. As a result, you can rest assured knowing that dermaplaning won't negatively impact your normal activities.

The Bottom Line on Dermaplaning

Not to be confused with dermabrasion, dermaplaning is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that involves the removal of dead skin cells and vellus hair from the epidermis. During the procedure, a practitioner will use a scalpel-like tool known as a dermatome to scrape your outermost layer of skin. As the dermatome glides across your skin, it will remove dead skin cells and vellus hair. Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of dermaplaning and how it works.

Want to learn more about dermaplaning? Request a free consultation with Radiance Medspa today!