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All About: Extractions

Don't pick at home! You may hear us estheticians nag about this all the time. I, an esthetician, pick at my skin sometimes. I know, tisk tisk. It's definitely a habit hard to break and I get it, but if you can, try and avoid it. When we pick at our skin, we are risking getting bacteria into the pore, we risk spreading infection if that pimple has bacteria in it, we also risk pushing that bacteria deeper into the pore than it already was and these can lead to scarring, inflammation, more serious infection and more. So, it's not just that we want dibs on your face, it's because we have the education and skill to help extract those pimples and blackheads without causing so much damage.

What are extractions? We are removing impactions from the skin, whether that be a pimple or a blackhead or maybe a milia, we are removing what's inside.

Why would I want them?

Well, obviously it's your choice, but extractions are for people with forms of acne. It's not healthy for our skin to have blackheads and pimples all the time. Pimples harbor bacteria, blackheads are built up dead skin and sebum that needs to shed and can't. We need to clear these impactions to keep your skin healthy. It's better to have a professional take care of them, than to try at home.

What's the process like? We are all trained with various tools and have taken extra courses that may add to our repertoire of expertise, but we use our fingers, tools or ultrasonic scrubbers to help us remove those impactions. In a typical facial setting, we are really prepping the skin with a thorough cleanse, steam, professional exfoliants and other products to get the pores and sebum to soften, allowing us to extract easier than just dry, tough skin. We then extract using the tools we prefer and finish off by closing down the pores with a toner and some of us use high frequency after to kill any bacteria and oxygenate the skin.

What can I expect? It can be a bit painful (I mean, we're applying pressure on your face and sometimes over tender, inflamed acne), but should never be excruciating. I will sometimes push hard but I give it usually two good tries and then I leave it alone. If it's not ready, it's not ready and continuing in one spot for too long can lead to issues. Definitely expect a bit of discomfort and ALWAYS feel free to speak up and let your esthetician know if it's too much for you or you'd like to stop. We love extractions and we are mindful of our clients but sometimes we will try to get everything and if it's too much, just let us know. Expect some swelling after extractions. Some people will have redness or swelling, many times both. Can you get everything?

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. Your skin will allow for extractions better when your skin is properly cared for. Many times, this means getting you on a good skin care routine with exfoliants that will help break down dead skin and hydrating products. Many clients are so dehydrated that extractions are nearly impossible. We want to soften the hardened sebum under the skin, break down built up dead skin and hydrate to allow for extractions to be possible. I usually tell clients that I will do what I can and if we can't get it this time, we can see at the next facial after home care and more treatment.

Will I be acne free quickly?

Not at all. Clearing acne takes a lot of self discipline, time and patience. Most of the work is you at home doing your part. When someone wants to clear up their acne, they really should come in every 1-2 weeks for treatments. We would start slowly with gentle enzymes and work up to peels. This also requires home care to be followed and may involve some diet and lifestyle choices as well. You have to be willing to make changes to see an improvement. One big factor is stress and we are all feeling it right now. Stress releases Cortisol and that affects our Testosterone levels and leads to more inflammation and acne and it's a big part of acne for many people. I would plan for at least 6 months of treatment, but it can take up to 6-9 months to get your skin to respond to products and treatment. For some acne can clear up in a few months and for some it can take years. This is also dependent in the type of acne you are experiencing. Those with mostly blackheads can clear up more easily than someone with cystic or hormonal acne, which take longer. Expect to be making serious changes and effort. Is one facial with extractions enough?

No, again like I said before, if you are experiencing acne, getting facials every 1-2 weeks is ideal. If you want to come in for a facial just to relax and maybe get some extractions that's fine. If you really want to make a change in your skin, it's an investment of time and money to make that happen.

Why is it not just included in facials?

Extractions take time and not everyone needs them or wants them, so I decided not to include them in facials, but they are an add on available for any facial for those who need it.

What about blackhead vacuums?

For the love of everything skin, please do NOT use these. People think of these as an alternative to micro or hydrodermabrasion, etc. It's really not. These are just vacuums. They literally just suck and while ya, you might see stuff come out, you are more likely to just have hickeys and some people end up with major hickeys. Remember a hickey can rupture blood vessels. Don't do it, you're better than that.


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