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Professional Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment: Is It Actually For You?

What Is Laser Resurfacing Treatment?
What To Expect
Risks
Types
Helpful Products

What Is Laser Resurfacing Treatment?
Laser skin resurfacing treatment is a cosmetic procedure that uses a laser to remove the outer layers of damaged skin and reveal smoother, more youthful skin underneath. The system can be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, acne scars, and other skin imperfections.

What To Expect From Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment:
Consultation

- The doctor will ask about medical history during the first consultation
- Medical history will determine if you are a good candidate for laser skin treatments
- Doctor will thoroughly examine the skin on the face
- Examination will determine if skin and skin type are suited for the procedure
- The doctor will provide medical advice if not a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing.

Who is suitable for this procedure?

Laser resurfacing can be suitable for individuals who have the following:
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Acne scars
- Age spots
- Sun damage
- Melasma
- Uneven skin texture and tone
- Hyperpigmentation

Day of laser treatment

- Plastic surgeons perform the procedure as an outpatient under light sedation or general anesthetic
- Local anesthetic is injected into the treatment area to help relieve pain after laser treatment
- Dermatologic surgery is done in an operating theatre under sterile conditions to prevent infection
- Skin appears red, raw, and swollen after the procedure
- Vaseline is applied directly after the procedure to keep the skin moisturized.

After the laser resurfacing procedures

- Significant heat on the treated skin for the first day
- Long recovery period of at least two weeks before going outdoors
- After ten days, the skin heals, and minimal makeup can be applied
- Redness may persist for up to three months; makeup can be worn to cover it.

Aftercare is crucial to obtain the best possible results from the laser procedure

- Wash face up to four times per day, starting the night after the procedure or the following day
- Apply Vaseline regularly on the treatment area to keep the face moist and prevent dryness and cracking
- Return to a plastic surgeon for the first 4-5 days; the face is washed and checked for infection
- Use a cold compress to manage to swell; numbing cream can be applied to the treated skin.

Risks, Complications, And Side-Effects Of Laser Skin Resurfacing
- Main risk is an infection due to raw and open skin
- Signs of infection include redness, pain, swelling, and inflammation; needs to be swabbed and treated with antibiotics if present
- Scarring is an uncommon complication, usually from untreated infection
- Skin may become lighter after the treatment
- Skin may react to the treatment by forming Millia, active acne, and cold sores. Should not be picked or scratched
- Skin may have a darker skin tone after the treatment, lightening serum can be applied for up to 6 months
- Risks involved with sedation, but modern anesthesia has fewer risks.

Different Lasers Used For Skin Resurfacing:
- Carbon dioxide laser treatments
- Erbium laser resurfacing
- Non-Ablative Lasers
- Fraxel laser skin resurfacing
- Pulsed Dye Lasers

What exactly is laser skin resurfacing treatment, and how does it work for your skin? This technique, also known as laser peel or laser vaporization, uses light and heat to carefully damage the skin's surface, prompting your body to heal by creating new skin.

It's a less expensive and less invasive alternative to cosmetic surgery. If you're curious about laser skin resurfacing and its impressive outcomes but unsure if it's right for you, this blog will guide you through everything you need to know about the procedure, including its suitability for different skin tones and aftercare essentials.

What is laser resurfacing treatment?

The skin comprises three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypo-dermis.

The epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone.

The dermis, the layer beneath the epidermis, contains the hair follicles, sweat glands, and tough connective tissue. These well-organized bundles of collagen fibers make up the dermis of the skin. These fibers contribute to the smoothness and firmness of the skin. When skin ages, the collagen becomes less organized and less in numbers. Wrinkles and age spots appear during this time.

Laser skin resurfacing graph in a post about Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment

Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that uses laser energy to remove the outer layer of the skin and, consequently, remove or reduce certain skin imperfections caused by sun damage, acne, etc. While it removes the top layer of the skin, it also heats the layer of skin directly underneath it. The heat produced by the laser stimulates the production of new collagen fibers that helps to tighten the skin. A tight skin texture means fewer wrinkles and perfect skin. [1]

Skin concerns this treatment works best for:

  • wrinkles [2]
  • acne scars [3]
  • to improve skin texture[4]
  • sun-damaged skin
  • darker pigmentation
  • tightening of the skin, especially around the eyes

Short Video

What to expect from laser skin resurfacing treatment:

1. Consultation

The doctor will ask you about your medical history at your first consultation. Your medical history will determine if you are a good candidate for laser skin treatments.

The doctor will then thoroughly examine the skin on your face. The examination will determine whether your skin and skin type are suited for this cosmetic procedure. Your doctor will also provide medical advice if you think you are not a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing work.

While considering laser skin resurfacing, it's also important to be mindful of your overall health, including your vitamin intake. Over-supplementation, such as with Vitamin B12, can have unexpected effects on your skin. Learn more about the implications of too much Vitamin B12 on your skin.

Who is suitable for this procedure?

  • Virtually any skin type
  • fair skin tone
  • darker skin tones
  • sagging skin
  • not suitable to use during pregnancy
  • not eligible to use while on acne medications, e.g., Roaccutane, a medicine used to treat active acne.[5]
Before and After result of laser treatment in a post about Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment

Your doctor will prescribe antiviral medication and antibiotic drugs to prevent any infection. Antiviral medication and antibiotic drugs are prescribed several weeks before the procedure. Patients should avoid sun and UV lamp exposure for one month before treatment. Wear a vital sun protection factor during this time on the treated skin.

2. Day of laser treatment

Plastic surgeons perform this outpatient procedure under light intervention sedation or general anesthetic. A local anesthetic is also injected into the treatment area before the procedure to help relieve pain after laser treatment.

This dermatologic surgery is done in an operating theatre under sterile conditions to help prevent any bacteria from infecting newly treated skin. [6] [7] [8]

After laser resurfacing, skin appears red, raw, and swollen. Vaseline is applied directly after the procedure to keep the skin moisturized. [9]

3. After the laser resurfacing procedures

After the first day, you will still feel significant heat on the treated skin. [10] Laser skin resurfacing has a lengthy recovery period. It will take at least two weeks before you can go outdoors. [11] [12]

After ten days, the skin heals, and patients can apply minimal makeup to the face. Redness may persist for up to three months, but patients may wear makeup to cover this up. Post-treatment care is crucial for laser skin resurfacing. [13] [14]

Alongside recommended skincare products, incorporating herbal teas like Mugwort can be beneficial. Mugwort tea is known for its skin-healing properties.

4.Aftercare is crucial to obtain the best possible results from the laser procedure.

Wash your face up to four times per day. You can start the night directly after the procedure or the following day. [15]

Apply Vaseline regularly on the treatment area. Applying Vaseline will keep the face moist and prevent the skin from getting dry and cracked. If the skin gets dry and cracks, the new skin will scab prematurely and leave scars. [16]

Patients are required to return to their plastic surgeon for the first four to five days. Your face is washed by a nurse and checked for infection by your doctor. [17]

Use a cold compress on the face to help manage swelling; patients can also apply numbing cream to the treated skin. [18] [19]

Note; To enhance your skin's health and complement the effects of laser skin resurfacing, consider incorporating flavonoid supplements into your diet. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant properties, which can benefit skin health.

5.Risks, complications, and side-effects of laser skin resurfacing

The main risk with this treatment is infection. Because the skin is raw and open, viral and bacterial infections can occur quickly because the skin is exposed. Signs of infection are; redder, painful, swollen, inflamed areas. This area needs to be swabbed immediately and sent to a lab to test for growing bacteria. If lab results come back and a bacterial or viral infection develops, it needs to be treated immediately with strong antibiotics.

Scarring is an uncommon complication. Scaring is usually the result of untreated infection.

It is common for skin to become lighter after laser resurfacing. Patients will hardly notice skin lightening as the laser treatment goes under the jawline.

The skin may react to the treatment by forming Millia, active acne, and cold sores. If left untreated, this will go away on its own. Patients should not pick or scratch.

The skin may have a darker skin tone after the laser treatment; if this happens, patients should apply a lightening serum for up to 6 months. Most lightening serums contain a bleaching agent.

There are always risks involved when it comes to sedation. Modern anesthesia has fewer risks involved. [20] [21] [22]

A woman receiving laser treatment in a post about Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment

Different lasers used for skin resurfacing:

There are many different laser options available for laser resurfacing. This is because no one laser can treat all types of skin concerns. Laser skin resurfacing can use ablative laser or non-ablative laser treatments (the former wounds the skin while the latter doesn’t) as well as fractional.

Some lasers can be used on the neck, chest, and back of the hands, whereas other lasers are meant only for the face.

We will discuss different lasers used in laser skin resurfacing for perfect skin and one non-invasive therapy, namely Light therapy.

1. Carbon dioxide laser treatments

The Carbon dioxide laser (CO2) and the newer erbium YAG are the most powerful lasers. They remove the epidermis (the top layer of your skin) and part of your dermis (the second layer of your skin) by superheating water in the skin. This causes controlled vaporization of skin cells.

 It is used for its extreme effectiveness when it comes to laser resurfacing. This laser works well in fair skin tones despite the possible side effects (like waxiness and hyperpigmentation)

Ablative lasers are used to treat sizeable problematic areas. The whole problem can be removed in one session, e.g., dark spots. Recovery time with ablative lasers is about two weeks, and the skin can be sensitive in the immediate weeks following the procedure. You have a higher risk for infections when treated with ablative lasers. Always use sunscreen for protection. Expect final results in about six weeks when treated with ablative lasers.

The erbium YAG, suitable for laser skin resurfacing, provides similar benefits and has fewer side effects than the (CO2) laser.

The heat from the laser stimulates collagen production in the skin while removing the skin. It also shrinks the skin, denaturing collagen, enabling it to jump back into a tight shape, therefore guaranteeing tighter skin. [23] [24]

This laser dermatologic surgery is best for:

  • Sun damage
  • wrinkles
  • scars
  • sagging skin
  • stimulates new collagen fibers
  • benign skin growths, e.g., warts birthmarks. [25]

2.Erbium laser resurfacing

 Most healthcare professionals prefer this ablative laser for aggressive skin resurfacing with fewer side effects than CO2 lasers. Erbium lasers cannot heat the skin; thus, they cannot tighten the skin. Erbium laser resurfacing can vaporize the skin without high residual heat.

Erbium lasers are precise; they can be customized to treat various skin tones and concerns, from fine texture lines, irregularities in tone, hyperpigmentation, melasma, and coloration. Primarily, erbium laser resurfacing is for the face, but these lasers can treat the back of the hands, neck, and chest. To do laser resurfacing on these areas will require a lower laser setting.

They are best suited for light skin types. In laser skin resurfacing, these lasers are generally used as a second laser after the Co2. It cleans up any debris left on the skin. [26]

Before and after result of erbium laser resurfacing in a post about Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment
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These laser treatments are best for:

  • fine lines and moderately deep lines
  • wrinkles
  • Asian skin tones
  • lighter skin tone
  • irregular skin
  • hyperpigmentation [27]

3. Non-Ablative Lasers.

Non-ablative lasers are gentler than their ablative counterparts. Ablative lasers direct their energy at the top layer of the skin to renew the most superficial parts. In contrast, non-ablative lasers work by directing their energy much lower into the deeper tissue.

The results of non-ablative lasers are mild; they are better for people with darker skin as they pose a lower risk of hyper- or hypopigmentation. This causes slower results over a longer period of time, with more sessions needed than with the ablative laser treatments. [28]

4.Fraxel laser skin resurfacing

Newer technology, fractional lasers, uses multiple small laser beams to ablate the skin in more minor spots, leaving intact skin cells in between. Instead of burning 100 percent of the skin, almost these digital pixels of laser destroy the target, allowing for quick healing without causing trauma to 100 percent of the skin at one time. Fractional lasers are ideal for a full-face treatment. [29]

Fraxel laser treatments technology

Fractional lasers have two wavelengths, 1550 nanometers, and 1927 nanometers. Both of these wavelengths have different effects on the skin. [30]

1550 nanometers

A deep penetrating laser. The wavelength is best for the treatment of scarring.[31]

1927 nanometers

A superficial penetrating laser. The wavelength is best for skin rejuvenation, improvement of skin pigmentation, improving skin tone and texture.

Pros when using Fraxel laser skin resurfacing

This treatment has a reduced recovery time. Most people cannot get laser resurfacing due to the long recovery time. Because this laser leaves intact skin in between, treated skin heals faster. [32]

Fraxel laser skin resurfacing has a lower risk of infection than classic skin resurfacing. It uses a non-ablative laser.

The doctor can control laser penetration. The laser can go as deep as needed, depending on the patient's skin condition and concerns.

Both dark and light skin tones can use it. New skin appears improved.[33]

Cons when using Fraxel laser skin resurfacing

Not suitable for deep wrinkles.

You may break out with cold sores due to skin irritation. Inform your doctor if you are susceptible to this before the treatment.[34]

Results may be undesirable. Multiple treatments are necessary to achieve desired results.

What to expect from Fraxel laser treatments

A doctor or nurse performs the procedure. A nurse will wash your face and apply numbing cream an hour before treatment. The numbing cream should be enough analgesia. The doctor will inject the patient with a local anesthetic in more severe cases. [35]

A therapist or nurse performs the laser resurfacing procedure. With a rolling motion, the laser passes systematically over the skin. While the laser is applied, cold air blows over the face to cool the face down and reduce complications from the heat of the ablative laser. [36]

After treatment, using the cooling hose is encouraged; this ensures a more comfortable post-treatment experience.

After the laser resurfacing, the skin will be red and swollen with a prickly sunburn sensation. After a few days, the skin will finally start scabbing. Depending on the severity of the treatment, patients can wear makeup almost directly after the laser resurfacing.

5.Pulsed Dye Lasers

This laser procedure is quite different from the laser resurfacing procedure. The lasing medium of pulsed dye lasers is composed of a solvent mixed with an organic dye. The solvents can include any of the following substances: glycol, dextrin, methanol, hexane, ethanol, and even water. The high intense pulsed light source pumps the liquid, thus allowing the organic dye and solvent mixture to circulate at the highest possible speed. The light created by Pulse dye Lasers directly affects the dye, eventually stimulating the emission of radiation.

The impact of the thermal energy is only designed to affect the target structure and no other tissue whatsoever.

Pulse duration is somewhere between 0.45and 40 milliseconds. (protective goggles are worn for such purposes)[37]

Pulsed dye laser treatments can be recommended in case of the following dermatological lesions:    

  • Rosacea
  • Spider nave
  • Age spots
  • Scarred tissue (hypertrophic scars)

Conclusion

Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment offers a transformative solution for those seeking to rejuvenate their skin. It stands out as a less invasive, cost-effective alternative to traditional cosmetic surgery, catering to a range of skin types and concerns.

While the treatment's effectiveness in enhancing skin texture and appearance is evident, it's crucial to consider individual skin types and post-treatment care for optimal results. Consulting with a skincare professional is essential to determine if this innovative treatment aligns with your skin health goals.

Laser skin resurfacing is just one aspect of maintaining a healthy appearance. Understanding the broader context of what it means to be healthy, including skin health, is essential.

FAQ

How much can laser skin treatment cost?

The average cost of laser skin resurfacing is $2,509 for ablative and $1,445 for non-ablative procedures. However, the cost can vary depending on the size of the area being treated, the type of laser used, and other factors.

How many laser hair removal treatments for face?

Laser hair removal usually requires two to six treatments. The interval between treatments can range from four to eight weeks, depending on the area being treated. Results are usually seen after the third or fourth treatment. Treatment of the entire face usually requires six treatments.

References

  1. medicalnewstoday; How does laser skin resurfacing work?
  2. clevelandclinic; Treatments to Reduce Wrinkles
  3. nbcnews: How to treat acne scars and hyperpigmentation, according to experts
  4. byrdie; 9 Ways to Get Rid of Uneven Skin Texture, According to a Dermatologist
  5. medicalnewstoday; How does laser skin resurfacing work?
  6. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  7. nbcnews; How to treat acne scars and hyperpigmentation, according to experts
  8. byrdie; Ways to Get Rid of Uneven Skin Texture, According to a Dermatologist
  9. medicalnewstoday; How does laser skin resurfacing work?
  10. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  11. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  12. mayoclinic; Laser resurfacing
  13. mayoclinic; Laser resurfacing
  14. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  15. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  16. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  17. mayoclinic; Laser resurfacing
  18. epionebh; LASER RESURFACING AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS
  19. epionebh; LASER RESURFACING AFTERCARE INSTRUCTIONS
  20. plasticsurgery; Laser Skin Resurfacing
  21. westlakedermatology; RECOVERING FROM LASER SKIN RESURFACING; RECOVERING FROM LASER SKIN RESURFACING
  22. RESURFACING; RECOVERING FROM LASER SKIN RESURFACING
  23. dermanetwork; Potential Risks and Complications of Laser Resurfacing
  24. medindia; Risks and Complications of Laser Skin Resurfacing
  25. mayoclinic; Laser resurfacing
  26. link.springer; The Carbon Dioxide and Erbium:YAG Lasers in Dermatology
  27. jamanetwork; Comparison of Erbium
  28. bhskin; The Benefits of CO2 Laser Resurfacing
  29. skinlogic; iPixel Erbium Fractional Laser
  30. usdermatologypartners; What is Erbium Laser Resurfacing?
  31. realself; Fractional Laser
  32. pubmed; Role of Rotation in Total Ankle Replacement
  33. pubmed; Nonablative Fractional Laser System
  34. kanataskinclinic; Everything You Need to Know About Fractional Laser Treatments
  35. realself;Can Fraxel Be Used on Dark or Hispanic Skin Types?
  36. mayoclinic; Laser resurfacing

⚠️Disclaimer: The information provided on this health blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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