Laser stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers work by producing an intense beam of bright light that travels in one direction. The laser beam can gently vaporize and/or ablate skin tissue to improve wrinkles, scars and blemishes, seal blood vessels or cut skin tissue.
The laser has the unique ability to produce one specific color (wavelength) of light, which can be varied in its intensity and pulse duration. The newest laser systems have become remarkably precise and selective, allowing treatment results and safety levels not previously available.
Using a wand-like laser handpiece, undesired skin cells and wrinkles literally disappear in a puff of mist and are replaced by fresh skin cells. One of the laser’s most significant advantages over traditional techniques for skin resurfacing is that treatment is relatively bloodless. The procedure also offers more control in the depth of penetration of the skin’s surface, allowing an increased degree of precision and safety in treating delicate areas.
WHO IS QUALIFIED TO PERFORM LASER SURGERY?
Dermatologic surgeons have extensive experience with laser surgery and were among the first specialists to use lasers for skin renewal and treating a variety of skin disorders. Since results are technique-sensitive and entail an artistic component, it’s important to select a dermasurgeon with demonstrated laser expertise
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN LASER RESURFACING TREAT?
Laser resurfacing is performed in the dermasurgeon’s office to help:
- Erase fine lines and wrinkles of the face
- Smooth and tighten eyelid skin
- Improve crow’s feet around the eyes
- Soften pucker marks and frown lines
- Remove brown spots and splotchy, uneven skin color
- Improve and flatten scars
- Repair smoker’s lines
- Improve skin tone and texture
HOW DOES THE CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) LASER WORK?
The newest generation of the CO2 laser delivers short bursts of extremely high-energy laser light. This revolutionary technology actually vaporizes the undesired skin tissue, one layer at a time, revealing fresh skin underneath. The laser’s highly-focused aim enables the dermasurgeon to gently remove the skin’s surface with a low risk of scarring and complications in properly selected patients.
HOW DOES THE ERBIUM (Er) LASER WORK?
The high-powered erbium:YAG laser produces energy in a wavelength that gently penetrates the skin, is readily absorbed by water (a major component of tissue cells), and scatters the heat effects of the laser light. These unique properties allow dermasurgeons to remove thin layers of skin tissue with exquisite precision while minimizing damage to surrounding skin.
The Er:YAG laser is commonly used for skin resurfacing in patients who have superficial to moderate facial wrinkles, mild surface scars or splotchy skin discolorations. Skin rejuvenation with the Er:YAG laser offers the advantages of reduced redness, decreased side effects and rapid healing compared to some other laser systems.
HOW DO NON-ABLATIVE LASERS WORK?
Unlike laser resurfacing technologies that heat and remove the top skin tissue, non-ablative or non-wounding lasers actually work beneath the surface skin layer. This novel approach appears to stimulate collagen growth and tighten underlying skin to improve skin tone and remove fine lines and mild to moderate skin damage. It offers the patient the benefits of few side effects and rapid healing with virtually no “downtime.”
WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED DURING AND AFTER TREATMENT?
Discomfort is usually minor during the procedure, and your dermasurgeon can discuss the administration of any pain medication prior to treatment.
Following skin resurfacing, the treated areas usually are kept moist with ointment or surgical bandages for the first few days. The skin is typically red or pink and may be covered with a fine crust. The treated sites must be protected from sunlight after the procedure. Once healing is completed, sunblock lotion should be applied. In some cases, a pink surface color may remain for several days to several months. Make-up can be worn after about 7-14 days.
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS OR COMPLICATIONS?
Each year thousands of laser resurfacing procedures are performed successfully. Significant complications are rare, and the risk of scarring is low. Some patients may be at risk for varying degrees of pigmentation loss, particularly with the CO2 laser. Common minor side effects may include crusting, mild swelling, redness or brown discoloration at the treatment sites. These are usually minimized by surgical techniques and pre- and post-operative regimens.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS OF LASER RESURFACING?
Laser resurfacing is not a substitute for a facelift, nor can the procedure eliminate excessive skin or jowls. However, by tightening loose skin, laser resurfacing can improve certain folds and creases. Laser resurfacing offers an alternative to traditional resurfacing methods like dermabrasion, and can also work well in conjunction with or as an additional treatment to other cosmetic skin procedures such as chemical peels, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) and liposuction of the face and neck.