Dermabrasion is a surgical skin resurfacing procedure that improves the appearance and texture of the skin by removing the outer layers of the skin. Dermabrasion is different to microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is an in office non-surgical procedure with no downtime. Surgical dermabrasion is particularly useful to decrease wrinkles and lines of the upper lip (smoker’s lines).

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The Surgery

Dermabrasion can be useful for improving raised or uneven scars. Dermabrasion performed properly is more effective and reliable than laser skin resurfacing for upper lip wrinkles.

Dr. Nettle performs dermabrasion under either local anaesthetic in the office or under general anaesthetic in the operating theatre, depending on whether it’s performed in combination with another procedure and the extent of the surgery.
Dermabrasion of the upper lip is a relatively quick procedure to perform. Upper lip dermabrasion is often performed as part of facial rejuvenation surgery including facelift surgery.

The Procedure

Like every surgical procedure, there is the rare possibility of poor scarring. Infection is possible, but is very rare. Patients who get cold sores should take anti cold sore medication pre and post procedure, and use Zovirax ointment on the wound post operatively.

The trick in surgical dermabrasion is to aim for a 60 to 70 % reduction in the upper lip wrinkles, not a 100% reduction, in order to avoid depigmentation or lightening of the skin which can occur with very deep dermabrasion.

The Recovery

We recommend using Lucas Paw Paw ointment continuously to the resurfaced area for the first week. You may wash and shower, and get the dermabrasion area wet. Wounds heal better wet than dry. Simply pat the area dry with a clean towel after washing and reapply the Lucas Paw Paw.

Panadol or Panadeine is usually enough to control any minor discomfort. Dr Nettle will provide you with additional pain medication, in the event that you need it. The dermabraded area will gradually turn from a deep red to a light shade of pink over time. The pink colour will gradually return to normal skin colour over 4 to 6 weeks, but may take several months to be completely normal. You can wear makeup over the dermabrasion area usually after 10 to 12 days. Remove make up gently. Most people are able to go without makeup at 2 to 3 months post-surgery.


Most people seek dermabrasion surgery in from their late 40’s onwards, however, there is no ideal age for this procedure.

Dermabrasion surgery can be done in rooms under local anaesthetic if done as an isolated procedure, or if combined with other major surgery, in an accredited hospital under general anaesthetic with a qualified anaesthetist. You can go home the same day but will require someone to pick you up to care for you at least overnight and take you to Silkwood for your post-op appointments.

The area will be red and raw at first and heals best with continuos application of Lucas Paw Paw ointment. Initial healing will take up to 10 days. At this stage makeup can usually be applied. The area can still remain pink anywhere between 4-6 weeks. It may take 2-3 months for the area to heal sufficiently to go without makeup.

There are no Medicare rebates for surgical dermabrasion surgery for lip lines as this is considered a cosmetic procedure.

Patients should expect to see a decrease of between 50-80% in wrinkles and lines around the mouth.

You will be seen by Dr Nettle within 7 days of your surgery.

Regular appointments are made to remove sutures and to check on your healing following surgery.

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