As we age, our skin begins to change as a result of several different life factors. The natural collagen within the skin begins to diminish and skin may sag and droop. Smoking, alcohol consumption, sun exposure, nutrition and more can also lead to the development of wrinkles and fine lines within the skin. Other skin conditions such as acne, brown spots and chicken pox can leave unattractive blemishes on the skin.
Laser skin resurfacing is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and other skin irregularities. It offers patients many advantages over traditional resurfacing procedures such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion, as it practically eliminates side effects such as discomfort, bleeding and bruising.
Although laser skin resurfacing uses the same basic principles of other procedures and treats aging, damaged skin by removing a layer of skin, it does so through a noninvasive approach that uses laser energy to remove as much skin as needed. This allows for a much deeper removal through more precise and less invasive techniques.
Laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat:
While this procedure is most commonly performed to treat the effects of aging, it can be performed on patients of any age who are looking to restore their skin to a smooth, clear complexion free of blemishes and other imperfections.
Microdermabrasion employees a hard jet of air containing fine microcrystals to remove the very most superficial layer of the skin, and is most effective in treating fine facial lines and superficial pigmentation changes, and can reduce the apparent size of your pores and improve the texture of your skin. There is no “down time” or healing period required, but a series of treatments will be necessary over time.
Deeper facial wrinkles (“rhytids”), either etched in the skin from repeated muscle motion (“dynamic rhytids”), or present at rest from sun damage and aging (“static rhytids”), as well as facial scarring, either from trauma, acne, or even viral infections such a chicken pox, require a slightly more aggressive approach, and may also benefit from one of three modalities of treatments. Each can require one to two weeks for healing before patients can return comfortably to social interactions or work.
Dermabrasion is the mechanical removal of the outer layers of the skin with a power-driven diamond wheel, smoothing out the surface irregularities.
Laser resurfacing, utilizing an Erbium or Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser or a blend of both, can similarly smooth surface irregularities and also can tighten the deeper layers of the skin.
Chemical peels, can also be used for the same purpose. Superficial chemical peels (alpha hydroxyl or fruit acids, glycolic acid, salicylic acid) and deep chemical peels (trichloroacetic acid or “TCA”, phenol) can be used separately or in combination to achieve varying depths of peel penetration and resurfacing depending upon the needs of the individual patient.
Recovery and Results
After the laser skin resurfacing procedure, patients may experience mild swelling and discomfort for a few days. These symptoms can be controlled with ice packs and medication prescribed by your doctor. Patients will also experience redness that gradually diminishes as the skin heals. While most patients can return to work and other normal activities after a few days, redness may persist for several weeks.
The results of laser skin resurfacing may take months to fully appear, after all signs of redness have diminished. Although the results are long-lasting, they are not permanent. The skin will still be subjected to the natural effects of aging, although your skin will appear younger and smoother than if you had never had any treatment at all.
Although laser skin resurfacing is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks associated with any type of procedure. Some of these risks may include scarring, infection, abnormal healing, allergic reactions or skin pigmentation. However, these risks are considered rare, and most patients undergo these procedures with no major complications.