Glowing, smooth skin is always in style. One of the most popular ways to achieve it is with microdermabrasion. This method of mechanical exfoliation—removing superficial dead skin, clearing pores, and smoothing away imperfections—has an extensive history with a large fan base in the spa and medical spa industry. “Abrading the skin is not a new concept,” says Andrea Trofimuk, general manager for Viora. “We’ve been exfoliating since the Egyptians used pumice stones to improve their skin.” Since then, the materials and tools have been refined to provide the safe, effective, and comfortable exfoliation your clients have come to expect. Perhaps the most significant innovation came in the mid 1980s when microdermabrasion was first introduced. Ongoing improvements to the process have since resulted in it being among the top 10 most requested aesthetic services for more than a decade. According to the most recent statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), microdermabrasion is the fifth most popular nonsurgical procedure. “Microdermabrasion is a popular treatment that has held its own in the skincare and aesthetics world for years,” says Arielle Panarello, esthetician at Union Square Laser Dermatology (New York City). “It continues to be a go-to service—people know what it is and are comfortable with the process.”
Many medical spas can rely on word of mouth, as microdermabrasion’s reputation practically sells itself. “Microdermabrasion targets a large variety of skincare concerns,”says Krista Wolford, medical esthetician at the Parker Center for Plastic Surgery (Paramus, NJ). “Anyone looking to soften fine lines and wrinkles; help reduce the severity of acne scars, dark spots from sun damage, and hormonal changes; reduce the appearance of large pores; and treat blackheads and whiteheads can see the benefits.” Heather Furnas, M.D., member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and plastic surgeon at Plastic Surgery Associates of Santa Rosa (CA), agrees it is an easy sell for new and returning clients. “Microdermabrasion is affordable, feels good, enhances the skin, improves the skin product’s effectiveness, and there’s no downtime,” she says. “It’s a popular treatment that both clients and staff love.”
In fact, microdermabrasion is the perfect introduction to medical spa treatments for potential clients. “Microdermabrasion is a great way to open up many avenues of skincare for patients,” says Wolford. “It is a great facial to start with for someone who is new to having skincare procedures done. It is also wonderful as a maintenance program, and it allows patients to get their skin ready for other more aggressive procedures.”
There are several reasons why microdermabrasion is so enticing. “It is fast, provides reliable results, requires minimal downtime, and leaves a great first impression,” says Bart Zoni, chief marketing officer and one of the founders of DermWorx. “The industry has done a fantastic job of teaching the public about the importance and value of skin-health professionals, and microdermabrasion is one of the tools that got us where we are today.”
According to many dermatologists, the mechanical exfoliation method employed in microdermabrasion is unrivaled. “There are plenty of treatments available for the skin, but there is no substitute for microdermabrasion in my book,” says Trofimuk. “Options like peels and lasers are not alternatives to microdermabrasion, they are adjuncts. We are working in a highly competitive and evolving market, so our treatment offerings have to be tailored and diverse.” She recommends staying ahead of trends by matching the hot new technology with microdermabrasion. “By layering your treatment offerings, you get better client satisfaction and incredible results,” she says.
As such, microdermabrasion is an ideal first step for medical spa facial treatments. “Exfoliated skin is fresh, glowing, and soft to the touch, and it absorbs products efficiently,” says Furnas. Joanna Vargas has also included diamond-tipped microdermabrasion in every facial offered since opening Joanna Vargas Skincare (New York City) in 2006. “I do microdermabrasion with every facial as the first step,” says Vargas. “Products penetrate more readily if the client’s face is properly exfoliated. It’s easier to extract after microdermabrasion, and the skin looks glowing, more even in texture, and even toned. It can be customized to fit a client’s specific skincare needs, and it makes the facials feel even more luxurious.” As a standalone treatment microdermabrasion is a solid offering, but packages and combination therapies can enhance its appeal. “When packaging the service, you have better treatment outcomes with longer-lasting effects due to the fact that you are promoting the growth of healthy skin cells,” says Trofimuk. “As for the combination therapies, think of microdermabrasion as your treatment booster—better results and happier clients.”
More recently, medical spas are proving resurfacing results aren’t limited to the complexion. “Now, because of the crystal-free microdermabrasion and the fact that we can use body wands, we’ve extended beyond the face,” says Brenda Acosta, president of Altair Instruments. “We can treat a lot more overall body conditions, in the back, chest, legs, and more.” Using a diamond-tip microdermabrasion device is more cost effective for treating large areas. Full-body results are proving to be even more impressive than on the face. According to Trofimuk, some of the most surprising results are on the buttocks and posterior thighs. “The suction and exfoliation works wonders on cellulite,” she says.
Spas have found great success with body microdermabrasion treatments on the menu. The Double Happiness Body Treatment ($500, 90 minutes) at Joanna Vargas Skincare is the owner’s personal favorite and also popular among her celebrity clients. This luxurious service includes full-body microdermabrasion followed by a full-body oxygen treatment. Microdermabrasion is also available a la carte for the body at Skin Essence A Day Spa (Raleigh, NC). Clients can choose from Hands with Half Arm ($95), Bikini Area ($50), Whole Back ($130), Hands ($45), Décolleté ($75), and more to rejuvenate their specific trouble spots for a personalized microdermabrasion experience.
This low-risk treatment is suitable for nearly every client. “I would recommend it on everyone,” says Acosta. “An ideal client is someone who is interested in keeping their skin healthy and rejuvenated. It could be a man or a woman, it doesn’t really matter.” Certain conditions are contraindicated for microdermabrasion. It is not recommended for clients with sensitive skin or severe surface conditions. “Clients with severe acne, recent herpes outbreaks, warts, and other diseases are not candidates for microdermabrasion,” says Trofimuk.
For everyone else, it is a quick cure-all that produces younger-looking, healthier skin. “Microdermabrasion is perfect for improving surface-level imperfections and providing overall exfoliation for brighter, smoother skin,” says Wolford. “Anyone who is looking to improve the appearance of their skin but is allergic to chemicals or not ready for any abrasive procedures is an ideal client.”
Clients have come to expect microdermabrasion on the menu. “Microdermabrasion is here to stay,” says Wolford. “There will always be new and upcoming methods of exfoliation, but this is the safest and most effective treatment. It is fundamental for any successful medical spa.”
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