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Dermatol Surg. 2008 Sep;34(9):1194-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34258.x. Epub 2008 May 29.

A comparison of histologic effectiveness and ultrastructural properties of the electrocautery scratch pad to sandpaper for manual dermabrasion.

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University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.



Manual dermabrasion with sterile sandpaper has been used for many years for skin surface retexturing. Owing to recent policy changes, our institution no longer allows sterilization of sandpaper. The electrocautery scratch pad is a routine component of our surgical tray and is presterilized by the manufacturer.


The purpose of this study was to correlate the histologic effectiveness and ultrastructural properties of the electrocautery scratch pad to different samples of sandpaper shown to be effective for manual dermabrasion. METHODS An ex vivo pig foot model was used. Histologic samples from each area abraded and a control were sent for measurement of depth of abrasion. Ultrastructure of all abrading materials was compared by high-magnification photographs.


All abrading materials used except for the smallest grit sandpaper reached approximately the same histologic depth while using the same amount of strokes and approximately the same pressure. Ultrastructurally, the surface of the scratch pad was slightly more abrasive than the 100-grit sandpaper, but less abrasive than the 60-grit sandpaper.


The electrocautery scratch pad provides an effective alternative to traditional sandpaper for manual dermabrasion. The authors have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

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