If header gaskets are a concern, then here's a few tips. If you use paper gaskets soak them in water 24 hours before installation. The water makes them swell and makes them hold moisture so they don't burn out as easy.
However, to make things easier and cheaper, I use stock exhaust manifold gaskets. These are made of meshed steel so they don't burn out easy. Plus they're slotted so all you have to do to install them is loosen the header and drop them in, you don't have to take the bolts all the way out as you do with paper gaskets. Another benefit to exhaust manifold gaskets are if they don't stick to the surface upon removal you can reuse them countless times.
I'm not sure where you heard the possibility of the sealing surface being reduced but I can't say I've ever heard of it. I've did a few builds now with Vortec heads and we haven't had any issues exhaust sealing wise.