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You are here: Anti-Aging Skin Treatments > Noninvasive Methods >

Vibradermabrasion (Vibraderm): a better microdermabrasion alternative, a gimmick or both?

Vibradermabrasion (often offered under the brand name Vibraderm) is a procedure promoted as a better alternative to microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is a method of mechanical exfoliation where the skin is "sand-blasted" using a controlled flow of microcrystals, i.e. a mild-to-moderate mechanical peel.

Vibradermabrasion (Vibraderm) is similar to microdermabrasion in that it is also a mild-to-moderate mechanical peel. Both of these methods primarily affect the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis). The difference is in the technical details of peeling. Microdermabrasion produces exfoliation using a flow of microscopic crystals (see our article on microdermabrasion) whereas vibradermabrasion employs paddles covered with fine abrasive particles. The paddles vibrate at a very high speed, causing the abrasive particles to dislodge the topmost skin cells.

Similarly to microderabrasion, Vibraderm is generally believed to be the most effective for early signs of aging and minor skin lesions. In particular, Vibraderm is often recommended for mild acne scarring, uneven pigmentation, poor skin texture, fine lines and dull skin.

The makers and practitioners of Vibraderm claim that it tends to cause less skin irritation than traditional microdermabrasion. This is likely to be true when comparing Vibraderm to the early, poorly calibrated versions of microdermabrasion. However, the microdermabrasion equipment has improved over the years. The side effects of Vibraderm may be similar to those of the microdermabrasion performed using the latest equipment. To judge whether Vibraderm has clear advantages over microdermabrasion, one would need independent clinical studies comparing the two methods. As of the time of this writing, such studies are lacking. Keep in mind that individual responses to a particular treatment usually vary widely. Therefore, even if Vibraderm is roughly equivalent to microdermabrasion on average, it may be better tolerated and/or more effective in certain people and vice versa.

A notable alleged advantage of Vibraderm is the Infusion Paddle recently introduced by the manufacturer. The Infusion Paddle allows to apply topical skin care formulas during the Vibraderm treatment. This approach seems to make sense. When the skin is freshly exfoliated (i.e. the corny outer layer has been removed) topical active ingredients tend to penetrate better and deeper into the skin. Furthermore, such penetration may be further enhanced by vibration. However, many exfoliation methods (including traditional microderabrasion) enhance penetration of topicals. Therefore, without comparative clinical studies, one cannot tell whether enhancing Vibraderm treatment with topicals via the Infusion Paddle is more effective than simply performing microdermabrasion (or any other exfoliation method for that matter) and applying skin care formulas immediately thereafter.

Vibraderm typically costs about $250 per treatment, ranging from $150 to $350. This is at least fifty percent higher than the cost of microdermabrasion. Similarly, to microderabrasion, Vibraderm is performed in a series of up to ten treatments and the benefits tend to be cumulative. The exact number of treatments depends on the treatment goals, the patient's response and, obviously, their disposable income. Without comparative clinical studies, it is unclear whether and when the higher costs of Vibraderm are justified.

Bottom line

Vibradermabrasion (Vibraderm) is a mechanical exfoliation method similar to microderabrasion. Allegedly, it has certain advantages: lower incidence of side effects (such as skin irritation) and a useful enhancement (Infusion Paddle) allowing to apply topical skin care formulas during the exfoliation process. However, independent studies comparing vibradermabrasion and traditional micordermabrasion are lacking. Until such data is available, it is hard to say whether and when the higher costs of Vibraderm are justified.


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