Microdermabrasion History Lesson: A Quick Recap Of How This Glorious Procedure Came To Be

Like many other things, Microdermabrasion has its archaic roots that have stemmed from some of the most basic ideas. It’s surprising to see that something as advanced and as non-invasive as this came from such a painful and barbaric (and explosive) history.

Before you lie down for your next session under that magic crystal-tipped wand, take a look at the origins of one of the most popular facial treatment procedures in the market.

1500 BC: The origin of strangest things

As per dermatology expert Heather Brannon MD, the cosmetic procedure of scraping your face would have to come from the time where most people started to tinker with their appearances: the time of Cleopatra.

Ancient Egypt is the land where people started using various substances and methods to make themselves look prettier for their Roman invaders.

Since there were no magic wands back then, guess what Egyptian beauty shamans used to scratch off the dead skin cells and dirt: sandpaper.

They used a special kind of rough material to really get into those pores. It sort of defeated the purpose of exfoliation if you take a good look at it. Literally scratching your skin with rough materials to get a more youthful glow? Whatever marketing methods they had back then, they were really effective to convince people to get into that.

Naturally, it hurt--and quite a lot. There’s also additional scarring, irritation, numbness and even loss of consciousness during those times.

On top of that, you would have to literally wait for your skin to recover from the process before you can see the result.

That would take weeks on end. That meant planning weeks before a party if you wanted to impress the Egyptian priestess next door.

Not only were the patients at risk. There was also the possibility of practitioners to get infected by floating skin particles and dirt because vacuums weren’t invented back then. You could be inhaling someone else’s dead skin cells during that time.

The 1900’s: Kromayer and his Wheels

With the fall of the Egyptian empire, so did their strange ways. The notion of dermabrasion came back during the early 1900’s with the appearance of a man who only went by the name of Kromayer. His approach was a bit different in the sense that you didn’t need sandpaper.

According to the Panamerican Laser Center, instead of rough materials, Kromayer used wheels. This strange contraption was composed of rotating wheels or discs and rasps that still scratched the surface of the skin with less complications as compared to earlier and barbaric methods.

Surprisingly, his method could treat hyperpigmentation (discoloration of the skin), keratoses and even scars that result from acne.

If you would fast forward the progress from his model to the next one in the future, the only changes you would see are probably the elimination of the wheels that he uses. He was the first workable and marketable form of dermabrasion, but despite that, his methods weren’t that widespread.

This could have been because of the way the machine was used. Because you had to turn the wheels yourself, that meant long periods of time churning away at someone’s face. That wouldn’t have been that enjoyable for either side at the time. This took a lot of effort and was quite cumbersome, which was why it didn’t catch fire until a few more dermatologists came into the picture and changed the way we look at scraping our skin.

The 1950’s: The Formal Introduction to Microdermabrasion

Because of the nature of Kromayer’s procedures, it would be hard to consider them as a legitimate form of microdermabrasion. Wheels are most certainly not as subtle as crystal-tipped wands but it was a good place to start.

It took 50 years for someone else to come up with a better method of rejuvenating the skin without using any needles. This is where dermatologist Dr. Kurtin comes into the picture, according to Clinicalresolutions.

With a small group of patients and several medical articles to back them up, they began to test their method which consisted of rotary abraders. These were a lot smaller and fully automated compared to Kromayer’s model.

In addition to a different and mechanical model, these abraders used different needle-heads that would massage the surface of the skin. This was the beginning of the dermabrasion age where the idea of using small, non-invasive cleaning heads started.

It was also during this period that more specialized machines started to appear, promising an easier and less-cumbersome experience to both the practitioner and the patient. This is where brushes with motors and metal needles started becoming more prevalent in the facial care scene.

The 1980’s: The Transition from Wheels to Needles

After people had much fun with fast-rotating cleaners and small cleaning heads, the market was just about ready for the next best thing. Enter Dr. Philippe Simonin and his devices.

His approach was mainly called Electroridopuncture (ERP). It consisted of subjecting patients to a special tool that resembled a painful-looking roller that had needles attached to it. The idea of the process was to roll this device along the surface of the skin, causing small abrasions that will lift dead skin cells and dirt from the skin.

Along with the painful-looking device, the treatment also included a high-frequency radio wave that would stimulate the skin to repair itself after the procedure. Interestingly, Dr. Simonin still practices this method in his own clinic in Switzerland and can still be contacted for appointments via this website.

1995: More Needles

It was during this time that rollers started to fall out of the scene and were replaced by stamps that still had the ever-painful needles. This was known as the era of subcision.

Compared to using painful rollers and electric currents to stimulate the skin, subcision was more on just prodding the skin with the needles. This was why the term subcision was coined. It comes from a shortened medical process known as subcutaneous incisionless surgery.

Just as the name implied, this required the interference below the external layer of the skin without causing any incisions. For something as fancy as that, you would have to guess the procedure to be just as complicated.

Using a specialized needle, the practitioner would insert the needle underneath an acne scar, wrinkle or discoloration on the surface of the skin. With the needle in place, the practitioner would separate the base of the skin problem from the deeper layers of the skin. Think of it as prodding the bottom of the scar and forcing it towards the upper layers of the skin where it can be removed.

The proponents of this complicated yet delicate procedure are Dr. Orentreich and his clinic during this period. This would require very skilled hands and a really comprehensive medical insurance coverage.

1996: Welcome the Future!

Although tricky and pricey, subcision permeated the market as other clinics fussed about providing the easiest method to lighten and care for the skin.

Little did the market know that by the end of 1996, a certain manufacturing company would be able to nail FDA accreditations for the first ever microdermabrasion machine.

Nearing the end of the year, Matiolli Engineering along with their partner companies managed to have their product approved by the FDA for use in facial clinics.

Their first attempt at making a machine didn’t start in the same year, though. It was in 1985 that they designed their first “closed loop” machine that collected the dead skin debris and dirt instead of kept them flying in the air. It was during the end of 1996 that the idea of these machines reached the United States by the same manufacturing company.

Just like any other good idea that comes to the United States, Microdermabrasion made it big time there. The following explosion, imitation and marketing of these machines spread like wildfire throughout the state.

Today: Crystal Wands and Diamond Tips

After that point in time, everything is as you see. Clinic after clinic already has their own kind of machine which they could have obtained from one of the many suppliers within the state. There are beyond a hundred different kinds of these machines out in the market right now, all of them operating under the same premise.

This premise being a special wand that uses crystal or diamond tips to be rubbed against the surface of the skin. This would invade the pores and get rid of dead skin cells as well as oil and dirt that normal washing cannot fix.

Accompanying this exfoliation is a vacuum machine that sucks up the debris, disposing of them immediately and leaving nothing but a clear sheet of flesh that is further cared for by special gels that help cool the skin and prevent irritation and scarring from the procedure.

As of today, the trend of Microdermabrasion still has a firm grip on the market. It is considered as one of the most popular procedures as it is non-invasive, painless and rather quick.

It is simply amazing to see that the origins of such a simple procedure came from the use of sandpaper, rollers, nails and electricity. How things change over time. It would be a treat to imagine what future advancements in the field of facial care has in store for us.


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