Attempts to improve scars and surface irregularities of the human skin dates back to antiquity. In Egyptian times, abrasive pastes of pumice and alabaster particles in honey and milk were used to smooth skin defects. Variations of this formulation endured over many centuries. In fact, the European dermatologist, Unna, applied compounds of pumice to facial skin to improve its cosmetic appearance in the late 19th century. Beginning in the early 1900’s, rudimentary rotary powered dermabrasion instrumentation was first used to plane down facial scars and defects. Cylindrical knives and then later dental burrs and rasps were used to treat tattoos, nevi, warts, freckles, pigmentation, acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. The techniques developed during the early 1900’s are now applied to such conditions as acne pits, traumatic scars, fine wrinkles, keratoses, keloids, and freckles.
In the past, the traditional approach to improve scars and surface irregularities has been to perform dermabrasion 6 months or longer after the original surgery or injury. However, in the last decade, it has been shown that following diamond fraize dermabrasion, the cosmetic outcome of scars on the face and trunk, when treated 2 to 6 weeks after suture removal or injury, were effectively enhanced. Many of these areas that are treated within this time period may heal without evidence of residual scaring.
With scar abrasion, a diamond fraize is used to lightly sand or plane down the skin causing a temporary weeping scab to form over the area. This scab generally will heal in approximately 5 to 10 days leaving an erythematous (reddish) area which subsequently fades to normal skin.
The time required for the redness to fade may vary from as short as a few weeks to several months. Scar abrasion is an excellent technique to reduce the conspicuousness of scars left from surgery on the face or from traumatic injury. Dermabrasion may also be applied in the treatment of advanced actinic keratoses, acne scars, solar elastosis, and fine and coarse wrinkles of the face.