Whether done with a product at home or in a professional setting with a specialized tool, the principle of microdermabrasion is the same. The idea is that if you remove or break up the stratum corneum, the body interprets that as a mild injury and rushes to replace the lost skin cells with new and healthy ones. In the first hour after treatment, this causes mild edema (swelling) and erythema (redness). Depending on the individual, these side effects can last anywhere from an hour to two days.
This process has a few beneficial effects. With the stratum corneum gone, the skin's surface is improved. The healing process brings with it newer skin cells that look and feel smoother. Some of the skin's visible imperfections, like sun damage, blemishes and fine lines, are removed. Also, without the stratum corneum acting as a barrier, medicinal creams and lotions are more effective because more of their active ingredients and moisture can find their way down to the lower layers of skin. As microdermabrasion temporarily removes some moisture from the skin, it is always followed by the application of moisturizing creams.
Early studies suggest that repeated microdermabrasion treatment at regular intervals may influence the way the lower layers of skin grow, as well, removing deeper blemishes over time. Some evidence seems to indicate that the rapid loss of skin moisture may be what triggers the lower skin layers to work overtime in speeding healthy cells up to the surface.