Laser resurfacing involves using controlled emissions of light at specific wavelengths to improve the quality of the skin by removing dead skin cells and promoting collagen production and new cell growth. Laser resurfacing is used to treat a variety of cosmetic issues including the appearance of fine lines, uneven skin tone and discoloration, reverse sun damage and reduce the appearance of scars.
What is it?
Laser resurfacing involves using a highly concentrated beam of light to resurface the outer most layers of the skin. There are two types of laser resurfacing: ablative (wounding) laser resurfacing and non-ablative (non-wounding) laser resurfacing. The first type, ablative laser resurfacing is also called wounding laser resurfacing as it actually damages the top layers of your skin to remove dead, dry skin cells and promote the growth of healthy skin cells in their place. Non-ablative laser resurfacing, also known as non-wounding laser resurfacing, is named so as it does not remove any layers of the skin but simply penetrates deep into the lower levels of the dermis to promote collagen production and cell regeneration. Some specific types of laser resurfacing combine the two methods to produce the greatest impact on the skin.
How does it work?
A technician will use a hand held instrument, or computer controlled device to administer the laser treatment. Before the procedure the patient’s skin is properly cleaned and eye protective wear is applied to prevent any damage from occurring to the eyes. The laser treatment is then administered, lasting between 30 minutes to 2 hours, based upon the extent of treatment needed and the type of laser being used. While most laser resurfacing treatments do not require the use of an anesthetic, patients who are concerned about their comfort during the treatment can elect to have a topical anesthetic applied before the treatment. These treatments are not recommended for individuals with acne or open wounds on their face. Patients should wait for all sore to completely heal before undergoing laser resurfacing therapy.
The benefits and recovery time from laser resurfacing depends upon the type of laser resurfacing you have done, whether it was an ablative or non-ablative procedure, and the amount of skin treated during the procedure. Since ablative laser resurfacing actually removes the least healthy layers of the skin the effects seen are more immediate and dramatic. However, due to the somewhat invasive nature of the surgery the recovery time is also greater. For several days after the initial treatment the patient may be required to wear protective bandages to cover sensitive new layers of skin and prevent infections from getting in. Since non-ablative laser resurfacing does not actually remove damaged skin cells, but instead promotes cell regeneration in the deeper layers of the dermis it may take longer for a patient to notice the results. As the top layer of skin naturally sheds individuals will see healthier, more resilient skin underneath. Due to the increase in collagen production, stimulated by non-ablative laser resurfacing, patients will also notice their skin becomes firmer and lines and wrinkles even out.