Does Microdermabrasion Hurt? Here’s What to Expect

By Emily M.| Last updated on March 13, 2023
does microdermabrasion hurt
⏱️ 4 min read

Microdermabrasion is a skin resurfacing treatment that helps remove the thin layer of the skin and with it, all the dead skin cells, dirt, and debris.

It’s effective in alleviating a fairly broad range of skin concerns, such as sun damage and hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, acne and acne scars, etc. It’s also great for brightening the complexion and evening out skin tone.

So, overall microdermabrasion seems like a very beneficial treatment. But since all these benefits are reliant upon the removal of the outermost skin layer, many people are concerned: does microdermabrasion hurt?

Let’s find out!

So, Does Microdermabrasion Hurt?

No, not really. The layer of skin that’s removed has no nerve endings, so you shouldn’t feel any pain. You will feel other sensations, though, which you may find more or less uncomfortable.

What Does It Feel Like Then?

Dermabrasion facial is done with a special device that simultaneously rotates, scrubbing away the outermost skin layer, and using suction to clean the surface. So it results in two sensations: scratching and suction.

The vacuum suction of the device creates constant pressure on your skin as it works.

This enables it to suck away all the dead skin cells that got scraped off, and it also creates a special feeling. Think of the feeling you get when placing your hand over a vacuum hose. You can definitely feel something, but it doesn’t hurt.

The scratching of the tip is mild and steady. A slight stinging sensation may also occur, but if it becomes too much, let the technician know right away. They may need to use a less abrasive tip or reduce the suction force. You shouldn’t be in any pain during this treatment.

While these two sensations are always present, the feeling can also depend on the microdermabrasion technique that is used.

does microdermabrasion hurt what does it feel like
Image source: Instagram @browstudiodubai

Different Methods of Microdermabrasion & What They Feel Like

Microdermabrasion can be done either with a more modern diamond tip technique or with a traditional (and kind of obsolete) crystal microdermabrasion way.

Traditional, or crystal microdermabrasion, is a technique in which very tiny crystals are blasted onto the skin. The rotating tip scrubs them against the skin, so the sensation is similar to a scrub. Then the crystals are sucked away with the scraped debris.

During this, you may feel a slight tingling sensation as the crystals move over the skin.

The diamond tip microdermabrasion technique involves abrading the skin’s surface with a tool that has a diamond-coated tip. With this approach, there are no particles being deposited onto your skin’s surface.

You might feel some tugging of the skin in the treated area during the diamond tip microderm, but it doesn’t hurt.

Next to these two methods, there are also two related treatments that are sometimes confused with microdermabrasion: the original dermabrasion, and hydradermabrasion.

Microdermabrasion actually originated from dermabrasion, a much more aggressive and serious treatment. But microdermabrasion also has a much gentler and more sought-after version – hydrodermabrasion.

Let’s talk about the sensation these treatments cause as well.

So, Is Dermabrasion Painful?

Yes, but you will not feel anything, though.

Dermabrasion is a substantially more aggressive treatment. It penetrates the dermis, which is living tissue, and removes a significantly thicker layer of skin.

It is considered a medical procedure that must be carried out by a qualified medical practitioner (dermatologist or a plastic surgeon).

Local anesthetics or possibly general anesthesia are needed for this treatment. Topical numbing cream might be enough if there’s no need to go too deep. But, if there’s a need to remove a thicker skin layer it’ll require the use of anesthesia.

You won’t feel any pain since your skin will be numb, however, you might get a sunburn-like sensation after the treatment is over.

Your skin will be red, swollen, and severely irritated so your doctor will bandage the treated area. You might also be prescribed some pain medications if you’re feeling severe stinging.

Dermabrasion requires much longer healing time, up to 2 weeks during which it’s necessary you also follow a specific aftercare regimen. Because it is so severe, dermabrasion is only used for severe conditions for which less invasive therapies are ineffective.

Learn more about dermabrasion here.

Does Hydrodermabrasion Hurt?

Hydrodermabrasion is the gentlest method. It won’t over-exfoliate the skin and there’s no pain or discomfort whatsoever. Some clients even report it’s actually quite pleasant.

It’s great for people who have sensitive skin. But it benefits all skin types – it hydrates dry skin and helps oily skin regulate oiliness. And it does so without any abrasive chemicals or acids irritating the skin.

Instead of spraying crystals, this method sprays water on the skin’s surface. The supersonic speed at which the water rotates helps remove dead skin cells and at the same time deeply hydrates the skin.

This helps provide better absorption of nutrients, which is why the water itself is often infused with minerals and vitamins that are chosen depending on your skin’s type and needs.

The (gentle) water jet extracts dirt, excessive sebum, and bacteria from the pores. This helps clean out congested and enlarged pores so they become smaller. So hydrodermabrasion is highly effective in improving the skin’s overall texture.

Plus it helps increase circulation.

Learn more about hydrodermabrasion facial here. 

In Conclusion

So, to answer the question we started with: does microdermabrasion hurt?

No. There won’t be any pain because the microdermabrasion facial just affects the top layer of dead skin. At most, you may have some slight discomfort.

If at any point you start feeling pain, let your technician know. They can adjust the intensity and pressure. This procedure shouldn’t ever be painful.

Find out more about the benefits of this treatment here – or check out our Ultimate Microdermabrasion Guide.

Cover image source: Freepik



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