Scraping away the years
The last time Renee Pritchard had crystal microdermabrasion, she hid for three days, she said.
“My skin was so raw, it looked red and streaky,” she said. Her skin reacted that way because the machine was likely on too high of a setting for her particular skin type, she said.
Pritchard, an aesthetician at Aria Spa at Vail Cascade Resort, is one of four spa employees who perform ultrasonic microdermabrasion, advertised as the latest technology in the rejuvenating skin treatment. The ultrasonic machine uses vibrations ” nearly 25,000 per second in the CACI International Ultra machine at Aria ” and low frequency ultrasound to loosen and remove dead cells and debris from the skin’s surface.
Aria brought in the machine in November and aestheticians use it to perform around 20 treatments each week, said Dawn King, the spa’s lead aesthetician and an Aria employee for nine years.
King calls the ultrasonic machine “more healing” than traditional microdermabrasion methods.
“It communicates with the cells, it works deeper into the skin, on a cellular level, instead of just on the surface,” she said.
Pritchard said sometimes people who have had microdermabrasion before are surprised by how non-invasive the ultrasonic treatment is, she said.
“The skin responds incredibly well and there’s little to no down time. You can go and have dinner with friends immediately afterwards, and your skin looks very healthy, like you’ve had a very deep exfoliation,” Pritchard said.
On a basic level, microdermabrasion is the “physical exfoliation of the skin using crystals or diamonds or something that is abrasive,” said Karen Nern, a board-certified dermatologist with Vail Dermatology in Edwards. “The ultrasonic machines use sound waves to break up the superficial top layer of dead skin.”
Often clients come in for a treatment before a special event, like a wedding or an anniversary, both Nern and King said.
“I think of microdermabrasion as waxing your car, polishing your car. If you have an event coming up, it’s a nice way to polish your skin and make it glow,” Nern said.
Vail Dermatology offers traditional microdermabrasion, which uses DiamondTome.
“It’s a wand that has micro-fine diamonds encrusted on the tip,” Nern said. “The operator has excellent control of how aggressive or superficial to be.”
Nern recommends microdermabrasion to patients who have sun-damaged or acne-prone skin. It also helps with acne scarring and reducing the appearance of large pores or fine lines.
“It helps your skin heal itself,” she said. “There are studies that show that when you do microdermabrasion, it triggers a wound healing process, where just like if you get a scrape on your skin, your body responds to that by building collagen and replacing what is damaged. Microdermabrasion triggers that same collagen-building process.”
Done in a series, patients using microdermabrasion for therapeutic reasons see good results, Nern said.
Those who have sensitive skin can get more redness and people who have warts, herpes or active rosacea (chronic acne characterized by a red color) shouldn’t have traditional microdermabrasion, she said.
After attending an open house and trying out the ultrasonic microdermabrasion at Aria Spa in December, Eagle resident Jennifer Wiens was sold, she said. The mother of two has been getting treatments every few weeks since January, she said. Along with the ultrasonic microdermabrasion, the aesthetician uses the machine’s red and blue LED lights on Wiens’s skin to help her rosacea and a special eye lift setting.
“I can absolutely see a difference,” Wiens said. “I have rosacea and the red is much better. I’ve been doing the eye lift, too, and I can see a difference. I’m 38 years old and it used to be droopy up there, and I feel like it’s improved that.”
Wiens has had traditional microdermabrasion a few times in the past, she said.
“The microdermabrasion with the crystals irritated my skin ” it was too rough for me. But doing the ultrasonic, when I come out of there I feel like my skin is glowing. When I look in the mirror, my skin looks healthy and younger and I’ve even had people comment that it looks better,” she said.
Despite Wiens’s glowing reviews, some doctors aren’t sold.
Dr. Gregory Papadeas is one of 12 dermatologists with Advanced Dermatology Skin Cancer and Laser Surgery Center. The center, which has an office in Frisco, has been offering traditional microdermabrasion for about 10 years but they don’t have a CACI machine, Papadeas said.
“We feel microdermabrasion as a whole is a great benefit ” people get better texture, tone and coloring to their facial skin. Does it need to be ultrasonic? We don’t think so. We feel like it’s a bit of a marketing ploy,” he said.
As a general concept, the more aggressive you are with microderm, the better results you get, Papadeas said, which is why the office uses a medical grade machine, which has “a little more strength and is able to give you a better result.
“All microderm has clinical value ” the spa, the ultrasonic and the medical grade, they all have value. We feel the medical grade at our level is the best of the choices, though,” he said.
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