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Advances in Laser Skin Resurfacing

February 8, 2012

by Christine G. Adamo

Advances in Laser Skin Treatment

Anyone who’s gone past the surface when looking into laser skin treatment can tell you – opting for a moderately invasive anti-aging procedure like laser skin resurfacing can offer long-lasting results that sometimes rival those of a more invasive surgical facelift.

People often seek out laser skin treatment to:
  • Delay their need for surgery
  • Reduce the appearance of fine lines
  • Minimize creasing along areas of the face
  • Banish wrinkles, hyperpigmenation and other discoloration
Whether performed alone or alongside facial cosmetic surgery like eyelid surgery, laser skin treatment options have come a long way. With ever decreasing downtime and recovery periods, today’s laser skin rejuvenation techniques quickly give women and men a youthful look.

While laser skin treatments have a lot in common, the variety of options in laser skin resurfacing and laser skin rejuvenation is worth knowing more about. One aspect of the process which is sometimes overlooked, in fact, is how laser patterns can help achieve good results and aid laser skin treatment recovery.

That’s what we’ll be talking about here…

Laser Facial Basics

When deciding which facial rejuvenation technique best benefits you, your plastic surgeon may suggest starting with the least invasive method. For patients in their 20s, this means dermal fillers or injectibles. For patients in their 30s or 40s, it can mean laser skin resurfacing alone or alongside a brow lift, eyelid surgery or facelift.

Laser skin resurfacing includes the application of light waves across or below the skin’s surface. When properly applied, laser light waves can even stimulate or boost your skin’s natural healing capacity. Laser light emits heat that increases collagen production to leave you with healthier-looking skin.

Which leads us to the inevitable question: Are visible signs of facial skin damage or imperfections causing you grief? If so, laser skin treatment may be the answer to your premature-aging prayers. Visible signs of premature aging laser skin treatments help correct include:
  • Under Eye Circles
  • Fine Lines & Wrinkles
  • Scars & Creasing (ex: Crow’s Feet)
  • Age Spots, Brown Spots & Sun Spots
  • Other Discoloration or Forms of Skin Damage
To be clear, we should explain further. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines laser skin resurfacing as a “method (used) to change the surface of the skin that allows new, healthy skin to form”. This helps rejuvenate, or revive, the skin to deliver a more youthful, taut and flawless appearance.

So, laser skin resurfacing – as we use it here – is a laser skin rejuvenation technique.

New Technology & Laser Skin Treatment

Different lasers offer different results. Ablative lasers, like the CO2 variety, remove or smooth the skin’s surface or epidermis. Removal of all or any part of the epidermis helps eliminate fine lines, wrinkling, spotting, scarring and other surface imperfections. Any newly exposed tissue, however, does become susceptible to infection.

Non-ablative lasers, like the brands Pearl or Fraxel®, reach below the skin’s surface to the dermis with the goal of stimulating collagen production. When your body produces collagen new skin which is smoother and more elastic takes the place of old skin. Still other lasers treat both epidermal and dermal layers of skin tissue.

As we mentioned earlier, one aspect of laser skin treatment that tends to get overlooked is laser patterns. Yet, the path a laser travels can impact the results and recovery of your laser skin rejuvenation procedure. Laser light energy and density also play a role.

Laser skin treatment patterns which are worth knowing about include:
  • X Pattern
  • Parallel Groove Pattern
  • Vertical Column Pattern
  • Rectangular Grid Pattern
Whatever pattern your laser skin treatment professional uses, they will likely make more than one “pass” across the skin with a laser wand to achieve the desired results. Much like a dress-maker’s pattern, laser skin resurfacing patterns are selected for their ability to properly address your skin’s unique needs. Ask which one can most benefit you.

Options in Laser Skin Resurfacing

Taking this discussion to a deeper level requires explaining the types of lasers which are used to carry out laser skin resurfacing and rejuvenation techniques. There are various lasers out there, but each essentially falls into one of three main categories.

The (3) categories of lasers used in skin resurfacing and rejuvenation include:
  • CO2 Lasers
  • Erbium Lasers
  • Fractional Lasers

CO2 lasers

CO2, or carbon dioxide, lasers have been around the longest. These lasers are ablative, meaning they are used to remove the epidermis or top layer of skin. Because CO2 treatment can be aggressive, it requires the longest amount of recovery time of all three categories. CO2 treatment is usually repeated 1-3 times for best results.

Erbium Lasers

Erbium lasers are less aggressive and have milder effects on surrounding tissue than CO2 lasers do. As a result, recovery can be quicker, side effects may be fewer and down time is often reduced. People with darker skin tones have found erbium laser treatment beneficial. Often, 1-3 sessions are sufficient.

Fractional Lasers

With fractional lasers (further classified as CO2 fractional or erbium fractional), only a “fraction” or portion of facial tissue is treated at any one time (ex: 20%). The epidermis may or may not remain intact as concentrated beams of light are focused to provide spot treatment on and/or below the skin. Down time and recovery periods are relatively short because only a fraction of your skin is treated at one time. Treatment of the full face or across large areas of skin may require 3-7 sessions.

Looking Below the Surface

According to the ASPS, more than twice as many people received laser skin resurfacing treatment in 2010 as they did in the year 2000. Why the surge in popularity?

Advancements in laser skin treatment allow consumers who aren’t quite surgery-ready to look more youthful without the burden of extensive cost, down time or recovery. And treatment isn’t limited to the face. Laser skin rejuvenation techniques are now being used to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and loose skin across the body.

Before deciding if laser skin treatment is right for you, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon or qualified professional who can explain all of your options in detail.

 
 


 
 

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