Aging, acne, or too much sun can result in brown spots, scars and lines or wrinkles on your face. Laser skin resurfacing is a safe procedure that can help your skin look younger and healthier
What is laser skin resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing also known as a laser peel is a method of precisely peeling damaged skin utilizing a laser light beam.
It can improve facial imperfections such as fine lines around the eyes or mouth, acne scars, blotchy brown spots or sun damaged skin.
How does the laser resurfacing treatment work?
The laser light beam, which is 1/10th the diameter of a hair follicle treats a fraction of the skin at a time, penetrating to the deeper levels of the skin to stimulate production of younger smoother skin.
Can laser skin resurfacing be combined with other procedures?
Yes, Botox and dermal fillers can be done immediately afterward. And, treatment with V Beam pulsed dye laser for broken blood vessels can be done in the same treatment session, usually immediately prior. Patients who are under anesthesia for a face lift can have laser resurfacing done at the same time.
What is the difference between ablative and non-ablative lasers?
Ablative laser treatment uses a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser to vaporize microscopic columns of tissue deep in the skin. It is a more aggressive procedure used to treat more severe skin damage. The newest ablative lasers use a fractionated light beam that preserves columns of normal skin which aids in healing.
Non -ablative laser treatment uses a different type of light beam, erbium laser which penetrates deep in the skin to stimulate new collagen production. The surface skin is intact resulting in faster healing than ablative laser treatment.
How long does a treatment take?
Treatment of the full face with any of the resurfacing lasers takes about 45 minutes. Typically patients arrive an hour early for application of a topical numbing cream prior to the procedure. The total time in the office is about 2 hours.
How many treatments are needed and how long will benefits last?
Non-ablative Fraxel laser typically requires 4 treatments for sun damage and brown spots and 5 treatments for acne scars, depending on severity.
Ablative laser usually is one treatment.
Duration of benefits depends on the condition being treated. Acne scar treatment results in very long term benefit. Treatment of brown spots or sun damage may last up to 5-7 years if the patient is careful with sun exposure.
How long will it take to heal?
Healing takes one week for ablative laser resurfacing ( CO2) . After one week, patients can wear makeup and go back to work. Fraxel laser heals in 2 days with only minimal redness or peeling on day 3. Treatments are done 3-6 weeks apart , depending on your skin type.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients tolerate the procedure very well after a one hour application of topical anesthetic cream plus oral or injectable Ibuprofen- like medication. It feels a little warm and prickly towards the end of the procedure. Patients who are anxious may benefit from a short acting anti-anxiety medication right before treatment.
What are the side effects?
Most patients do not have any complications. In patients with darker skin types, temporary bronzing of the skin or brown sots can occur. The pigmentation usually resolves in 4 weeks or less with the use of a prescription skin lightener. There can be a rare risk of skin infection with herpes simplex, if you are prone, or bacterial infection so follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
What is the best aftercare following laser resurfacing?
Doctors each have own their favorite sensitive skin products for use immediately after the procedure. Once the skin is healed, daily sunscreen is important For patients with concerns about brown spots, a prescription skin brightener cream with hydroquinone and Vitamin A or C will prevent recurrence. For patients with aging skin concerns, I recommend a growth factor product to stimulate new collagen such as TNS by SkinMedica or prescription strength Vitamin A cream.
How do I find a practitioner who is experienced in this procedure?
The procedure is usually performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons. I recommend having it done in a doctor’s office rather than a med-spa. Ask your primary care physician as well as friends who have had cosmetic procedures who they recommend. You may benefit from several consultations to select which doctor’s approach is right for you.