Dental Care

Fractional Laser

Step 1: Introduction

Laser skin resurfacing, also known as laser peel, lasabrasion, or laser vaporization, is an effective treatment that uses concentrated beams of light and energy to improve skin tone and texture while reducing wrinkles, scars, uneven pigmentation, and sun damage.

Step 2: Skin Anatomy

The skin is composed of three layers known as the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. The epidermis, or outer layer of the skin, acts as the skin’s primary defense against the environment. As a result, these layers sustain the most damage. The dermis, or middle layer, is responsible for providing structure and support to the skin. The dermis is composed primarily of connective tissue that provides the skin with a support network made of collagen and elastin fibers. Over time, the dermis also sustains damage and these collagen and elastin fibers break down, resulting in a loss of skin elasticity and the formation of facial wrinkles.

Step 3: Laser Skin Resurfacing

The lasers utilized for laser skin resurfacing treatments target water in the outer layers of the epidermis in order to remove the damaged skin and allow healthy skin to grow in its place. Resurfacing lasers are categorized as either ablative or non-ablative. Ablative resurfacing can be performed with erbium or CO2 lasers, while non-ablative resurfacing can be performed with many different types of lasers including erbium. While both ablative and non-ablative lasers stimulate collagen production, ablative lasers also remove a significant portion of the damaged outer layers of the epidermis. Ablative lasers are more intense and require more recovery time than non-ablative lasers, but dramatic results can often be seen after just one treatment. While also highly effective, you may need multiple treatments with non-ablative lasers to achieve your desired results. Ablative lasers are best for treating mild to moderate wrinkles, scarring, and uneven pigmentation and are not always recommended for patients with darker skin tones. Non-ablative lasers are best for improving skin texture and tone and pose fewer risks for darker skin types.

Step 4: Procedure

Laser skin resurfacing will begin with a consultation during which your provider will examine your face, discuss your treatment goals and any medical conditions or current medications that you may be taking, determine the best laser resurfacing technique for your skin, and address any concerns that you may have. Depending upon the type of treatment, laser resurfacing typically lasts from thirty minutes to two hours. Your provider may administer a topical numbing medication for 30-45 minutes. An injectable anesthetic may be used and you may be given a sedative to help you stay relaxed and comfortable during your procedure. The treatment area will be cleansed and you may be given eye protection. Your provider will focus the laser on your skin and you will likely feel a slight to moderate burning sensation. Deeper wrinkles or scars may require multiple passes over the treatment areas. Ablative lasers remove the damaged outer layers of the epidermis and both ablative and non-ablative lasers heat the dermis, stimulating collagen production over time and improving the structure and elasticity of the skin.

Step 5: Risks

It is uncommon to experience serious complications from laser resurfacing. Potential risks may include redness, swelling, itching, acne, scarring, hyperpigmentation (or skin darkening), hypopigmentation (or skin lightening), and infection.

Step 6: Recovery and Results

You may experience minor pain, itching, redness, crusting, and swelling for the first few days after laser skin resurfacing. These symptoms typically subside in three to ten days, depending upon whether your resurfacing treatment was non-ablative or ablative. The redness will fade slowly over a few months. The outer layers of the skin will peel away within several days following treatment, and your provider may recommend special ointment to keep your skin moisturized and protected during the initial healing stages. It is important to remember that laser-treated skin can be extra sensitive to the sun for up to a year following your procedure and it is essential that you diligently protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen and minimize sun exposure whenever possible. You should notice an improvement in your skin in one to two weeks, but your skin will continue to improve for up to one year following your treatment. The results from laser skin resurfacing may last for several years, though your treatment will not stop the natural aging process and you may undergo additional laser skin resurfacing treatments as necessary. Laser skin resurfacing is an effective and minimally invasive method of improving the appearance of your skin.

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