Laser resurfacing is nothing short of an art form. When performed by a specialized dermatologist, this effective, convenient and safe cosmetic procedure can provide outstanding results in rejuvenating your skin.
Hailed as one of the most innovative solutions, laser resurfacing is often used to treat fine lines, wrinkles, severe sun damage, acne scars, various blemishes, hyperpigmentation and much more. It can restore your skin to its youthful beauty, repairing the damage caused by aging, the sun, smoking, acne and other skin conditions.
What’s more, laser resurfacing is one of the very few skin treatments that lasts forever, leaving you with clearer, tighter and smoother skin. It’s the perfect way to reinvigorate your image and solve a lot of existing skin problems.
So what is laser resurfacing exactly? How does it work? And why is it able to achieve great results in record time?
What Is Laser Resurfacing?
As implied by its name, laser resurfacing uses a special medical laser to direct concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregularities in your skin. The laser then gradually but precisely removes the very outer layers of your skin, while heating the deeper layers and revealing the new, clear and youthful skin underneath. This procedure is also sometimes called laser vaporization.
Laser resurfacing is a highly technical procedure that should only be performed by a trained professional to guarantee the best results with no side effects. With ablative resurfacing, it’s best to work with a specialized dermatologist.
There are a few types of laser resurfacing treatments available at Dermetics. The most important difference is whether the laser is ablative or non-ablative. Ablative lasers remove the outside layer of your skin. Non-ablative lasers do not. Instead, they include pulsed light (not a resurfacing laser) and fractional lasers to correct some skin conditions and textural issues.
Choosing an appropriate laser depending on your skin type and correction required is critical, and another reason to ensure your dermatologist has all the required laser resurfacing training and experience to make the right decision.
Here’s a high-level overview of fractional non-ablative, fractional ablative and full ablative laser resurfacing.
Fractional non-ablative laser resurfacing (also known as Fraxel®) works on the underlying skin tissues without removing the top skin layer. It is used to treat acne scarring, diminish fine lines, improve skin texture and stimulate collagen production. Non-ablative lasers require virtually no downtime and patients may experience just a bit of mild redness and swelling for a day or so.
Fractional ablative laser resurfacing (or a combination of fractionated ablative and non-ablative resurfacing such as Halo) targets deeper face lines and textural skin changes, such as altered pigmentation and mild skin laxity. Ablative laser resurfacing peels the superficial layers of skin while delivering fractional micro-beams of light to reinvigorate the layers underneath. Patients might experience some redness, swelling and crusting of the skin for a few days.
Full ablative laser resurfacing is the most corrective option that delivers outstanding results by removing entire superficial skin layers and heating deeper skin tissues. As a result, patients get healthy, smooth and younger-looking skin, but can expect a week or two of recovery time.
How Does Laser Resurfacing Work?
As mentioned above, laser resurfacing is the process of using a professionally controlled laser to vaporize the outer layers of skin to reveal the smooth and youthful skin below, and at the same time heat up the underlying layers and stimulate the production of collagen, which helps produce new skin that is smooth and firm to the touch.
The procedure is considered permanent because the superficial layer of the skin is completely removed (with the ablative laser resurfacing).
With non-ablative laser resurfacing, the process is less intensive and works by heating up skin layers rather than removing them. The heat then stimulates the skin cells and thickens your collagen. As a result, skin gains greater elasticity, an improved skin tone and a youthful look.
To prepare you for the procedure, your dermatologist will likely apply a topical anesthetic to avoid any unpleasant sensations. If a large skin area is being treated, some additional pain killers might be advised.
Laser resurfacing downtime also depends on the area being worked on and generally ranges from minimal (one day) to a few weeks for major ablative procedures. Downtime is sometimes necessary to make sure your skin heals properly, which reduces the risk of side effects and helps achieve better results.
At Dermetics, full ablative laser resurfacing is exclusively performed by Dr. Nathan Rosen — a leading authority on laser surgery and aesthetic medicine. Dr. Rosen acts as an advisor and physician trainer to equipment manufacturers in the industry and has published on laser treatments and techniques.
The Benefits of Laser Resurfacing
There are numerous advantages to seeking out clinics that specialize in laser resurfacing. The most important ones are speed as well as the quality and the longevity of the results.
Speed. Laser resurfacing is a very quick procedure that usually takes only 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the skin area to be covered, which makes it suitable even for the busiest people. It’s also a cosmetic procedure and not a surgery where you have to stay in the hospital overnight.
Quality of the results. Laser resurfacing literally removes a lot of the skin problems that might have been bothering you for a long time. You’ll look great almost instantly, since you now have completely new skin. No old wrinkles, no sun damage, no blemishes. The thickened collagen will also bring radiance to your skin and tighten it up to reduce laxity.
Longevity of the results. Laser resurfacing is not temporary. Unlike skincare products, your old skin is gone, so your results will be long-lasting and not fade away overnight. However, the new skin will still be subject to aging, so it’s very important to commit to a rigorous skincare routine and protect your new skin from any damage.
Who Should Consider Laser Resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing can be used to treat a variety of skin conditions. For specific concerns and recommendations, always consult with a dermatologist first.
In general, laser resurfacing helps with skin concerns related to age spots, scars, sun damage, acne, wrinkles, crow’s feet, sagging skin, uneven skin tone, etc. These are serious concerns that can’t be treated with over-the-counter skincare products.
Your natural skin tone will also determine whether laser resurfacing is the right fit for you, since it can carry a risk of hyperpigmentation. That’s why the best time to undergo laser resurfacing is generally fall or winter, which help decrease sun exposure and avoid damaging delicate cells. You also might need to wait if you’re experiencing an active acne breakout.
Thinking of trying laser resurfacing to alleviate some of your skin concerns? Book a Dermetics consultation, and either Dr. Rosen or Dr. Muhn will meet with you to hear your concerns, assess your skin condition and suggest the most appropriate treatment going forward.