Is Microdermabrasion an Effective Treatment for Acne Scars?

Is Microdermabrasion an Effective Treatment for Acne Scars?
By Kali Kushner

 Microdermabrasion or Microneedling… we often hear these two terms when it comes to skin care or treating our acne scars. How do they differ from each other? And which is a better treatment of acne scars: Microdermabrasion or Microneedling?

Medical facials are often everyone’s favorite and popular aesthetic treatments as they are typically less invasive than laser, fractional resurfacing treatments and surgery.

We’ve also come across endless empty promises of acne scar treatments which lead us to disappointment because we expect positive results right away. Both dermatologists and acne sufferers disregard microdermabrasion for acne scars as treatment and most people argue that the device used for treating acne scars cannot penetrate deeply enough to regenerate new cells and encourages skin cell repair.

While there are some who agree that microdermabrasion for acne scars helps you achieve a clear, glowing and ageless skin. There are some who would even post countless before and after pictures of their skin showing positive results and healing from acne, acne scars and wrinkles, persuading us to give this treatment a try. There’s this type of microdermabrasion tool called Personal Microderm Device or PMD.


There are actually several differences between microdermabrasion for scars/acne scars & microneedling.

Microdermabrasion for acne scars, to begin with, is an ablative procedure, meaning that this procedure scrapes away the outer layer of your skin gently to pave way for new skin cell or layer. It may also be useful for people dealing with active mild-to-moderate procedures. Microdermabrasion for acne scars also reduces excess oils from your pores aside from removing dead skin cells that clog them.

Microdermabrasion for acne scars works best for certain types of depressed acne scars, causing pits in your skin. However, it does not work the same for ice pick scars.  It is a safe, effective and convenient procedure that can be done by a dermatologist, aesthetician or any skin care professional and is completed in 20 minutes (for small peel) or more.

It also has been used as an anti-aging treatment as it is used in treating scars or acne scars.

Microdermabrasion for scars or acne scars uses tiny crystals that are sprayed on the skin and works on dull skin, brown spots and age spots.

Microdermabrasion focuses more on targeting skin concerns such as dull or dry skin, oily & congested skin, age spots & hyperpigmentation, fine lines and uneven skin tone and texture.

Microneedling, on the other hand, is non-ablative and do not remove the outer surface or layer of your skin but rather, they allow regeneration or renewal of skin layer. This treatment or procedure stimulates collagen and elastin production to promote skin improvement.

Microneedling is known as a derma rolling procedure using small needles to prick the skin, creating micro wounds or microchannels in your skin. It is a minimally invasive procedure or treatment which requires no downtime.

Just picture yourself using this small tool and rolling it on your skin, it feels like “Velcro”. To explain it further, microneedling is inserting very short needles (0.5 mm for a DIY treatment) into your skin for rejuvenating your skin cells. Unlike the microdermabrasion for scars or acne scars, microneedling offers fairly immediate results, depending on your skin type.

The microneedling treatment also has different benefits such as it stimulates dormant hair follicles, reduces cellulite marks and plays well with other skincare treatments. It also repairs invisible scars, reverses sun damage and pigmentation, helps with aging skin, shrinks pores and it can be used or done all over your body (just not the eye area or active acne).


When you want to go for a treatment that focuses mainly on removing outermost skin cells or treating surface skin issues, then microdermabrasion for acne scars may be the better treatment for you. However, when you want to treat or address your acne scars or other deep skin issues, you might want to go for microneedling instead as it addresses deep skin issues or concerns and it encourages production of brand new skin tissues. Moreover, it improves the appearance of deep scars, wrinkles, brown spots and stretch marks.

Microdermabrasion for acne scars is a simple, quick and painless cosmetic treatment with no downtime and minimal risk.

Microdermabrasion for acne scars is known as one of the top 5 non-surgical procedures performed by skin care professionals. Microdermabrasion exfoliates your skin’s surface by using a mechanical device with an ablative material such as sodium bicarbonate crystals to scrub or scrape off dead and dull cells, resulting in smoother, brighter looking skin. The downside? It brings little discomfort, treatment takes about an hour, and no downtime afterwards. Microdermabrasion for acne scars may be suitable for most skin types, but not all.

Microdermabrasion for acne scars also works but only for those with active acne, mild acne, discoloration and very superficial or raised acne scars. This treatment is often used by dermatologists in unclogging pores and clearing acne and combined with gentle glycolic peels and medical acne extractions to help speed up acne clearing.

Microneedling is way different from the first one as it provides more benefits than a microdermabrasion treatment does and it reaches the skin’s surface. It is a relatively new popular procedure used to regenerate skin cells treat various skin conditions.

Unlike microdermabrasion, microneedling focuses more on treating skin conditions like acne and acne scars, rosacea, stretch marks and scars, wrinkles and fine lines, enlarged pores, uneven skin texture and aging skin.


There are several benefits and limits of microdermabrasion for acne scars


* Deeply exfoliates and improves the skin tone and texture

* Skin feels smoother and complexion looks brighter and healthier

* Evens out skin tone

* Softens fine lines and superficial wrinkles

* Reduces formation of comedones

* Improves mild acne

* Reduces oiliness and shrinks large pores

* Fights sun damage

* Lightens post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or dark acne marks

* Home kits are generally cheap compared to spa treatments


* Can’t treat severe or cystic acne

* Irritates an already inflamed acne

* Does not improve boxcar scars or ice pick scars

* Does not flatten hypertrophic or keloid scars but worsens them

* Does not completely eliminate lines and wrinkles

* Does not treat deep wrinkles

* Does not tighten sagging skin.

* Shows cases of bruising or permanent skin condition if device was held on the same skin section for long periods or used too much pressure.

*Patients may be at risk of contracting infections if microdermabrasion applicator and vacuum are not sanitized.


Just like microdermabrasion for acne scars, microneedling also has its own benefits and limitations.


* Reduces and improves the look of fine lines and aging

* Reduces visible scars and acne scarring and stretch marks

* Improves skin texture and evens out skin discoloration

* Prevents new fine lines and wrinkles from forming

* Tightens and firms loose skin

* Shrinks pore size

* It is a non-invasive treatment with very minimal downtime

* It can be used on any part of the body

* Budget-friendly


* Does not show positive results. May require two or more sessions about 4 to 6 weeks apart

* Not for everyone, especially those with irritated skin, active acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.


There are at least 3 types of  microdermabrasion for acne scars:

1) Crystal – A professional type of treatment commonly used for reducing scars  and exfoliating skin. Very small scars are fired from a tube to the skin, removing dead tissue and skin.

2) Diamond – A type of professional microdermabrasion treatment for acne scars that uses diamonds to literally scrape away dead skin cells and scar tissues. Compared to the crystal type of microdermabrasion treatment, this one has been shown to be more successful.

3) Home-based – This one is very cheap and easy to use. Home based microdermabrasion treatments are very prevalent in the skin treatment market. They are not as immediately effective compared to the professional methods or types of microdermabrasion, but high quality models of this type of treatment have been shown to produce marketed results over a long period of time or use. 

Have you used the PMD or tried other Microdermabrasion treatments? Did they work or not? Let me know in the comments below!


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