Patients regularly ask me about the best options for treatment of fine lines, wrinkles and skin sagging. Here are answers to your FAQ:
What is the best option to treat fine lines and wrinkles: ablative (fractional CO2 laser) or non-ablative laser ( Fraxel or erbium laser)?
The best option depends on your skin type:light or dark pigmented, your age and your ability to take time off of work. Darker pigmented skin is more safely treated with a series of less invasive treatments using Fraxel laser, while fair skin will tolerate both. Patients who are over 50 with significant sun damage will have better results with CO2 laser. But, fractional CO2 requires a week of recovery, Fraxel only 2 days every 4-6 weeks for a series of 4 treatments. Which plan best fits you and your lifestyle?
If I am an active person used to exercising outdoors, what is the best option to treat wrinkles and fine lines?
The best treatment depends on the type and cause of wrinkles, your skin type and if you are willing compromise your outdoor exercise for a week or so.
Many patients who exercise are thin, and have volume loss in the face, resulting in deep wrinkles. Volume enhancing fillers may work better than laser for those facial types. There is no need to avoid outdoor activity with dermal fillers.
Laser treatments such as Fraxel or CO2 laser will improve fine lines and brown spots. Outdoor exercise at dawn or dusk can be resumed on day 3-7 depending on which laser you chose. To maintain laser results, fanatic sun protection is key. Are you willing to do that?
What is the difference between laser resurfacing and laser tightening?
Laser resurfacing stimulates new collagen using light energy, and at the same time, exfoliates the skin surface, resulting in smoother, more even toned skin. There may be visible tightening of the skin, especially around the eyes, but the main benefit is improving the skin surface.
Skin tightening is done with radiofrequency (Thermage), ultrasound (Ulthera) as well as laser (Titan). These treatments do not improve the skin surface, but rather, tighten sagging skin. Results are not as dramatic as plastic surgery and may need to be repeated in 2-3 years. For patients with significant laxity or jowls, I recommend a facelift.
How long do the results last and do I need to repeat the treatment to maintain results?
Duration of results may be up to 5 years for CO2 laser resurfacing, if patients protect their skin from the sun and stay at a stable body weight. Unprotected sun exposure or significant weight loss can result in recurrence of brown spots or wrinkles.
Is a skin analysis needed to see which laser is right for me? To learn which treatment is right for you, consultation with a board certified physician trained in cosmetic procedures is key. Many med spas offer free consultation with nurses who may be paid a commission based on treatments booked. Med-spas and physician’s offices may offer the same treatments; but results and handling of complications may not be the same. ( Lindsay Lohan and Meryl Streep are both actresses).