Laser Skin Resurfacing FAQ

Published on March 6th, 2014 in News, Uncategorized, What's New

What is laser skin resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing utilizes laser light that is applied to the skin to tighten it and reduce fine wrinkles.* It is most commonly used on the face.

How does the laser skin resurfacing procedure works?

The treatment creates heated columns in the skin that stimulate the body’s healing processes, part of which involves collagen production around the treated areas.  This collagen stimulation strengthens the dermis and softens the highs & lows of the skin, i.e. wrinkles or acne scars.*

Can laser skin resurfacing be combined with other procedures?

Laser skin resurfacing can be combined with other cosmetic procedures to help reach your skin rejuvenation goals.* Treatment with topical retinoids is recommended to maintain the results from your laser skin resurfacing treatment.* Also, Botox and dermal filler treatments can be incorporated to address wrinkles and volume loss to the face.* Depending on your individual goals, our providers can design a treatment plan to best address your needs.

What is the best laser for skin resurfacing?

Your provider will determine the most appropriate laser for your skin resurfacing needs. At our center, we have a variety of lasers we use for laser skin resurfacing. Depending on your skin type and the areas to be treated, like the face or the neck, we will choose the laser best suited to your skin. It is important to note there is not necessarily one best laser for skin resurfacing. Given this fact, patients should make sure they receive treatment from experienced laser providers who can assess the best laser for their skin needs.

How long does a treatment take?

Patients should expect to be in the office for about 1 hour for the treatment. While the actual treatment itself only lasts for about 20 minutes, between checking in, going over treatment consents, and icing your skin post-treatment, patients will be in the office for about 1 hour.

How long it will take to heal?

Immediately post-treatment, your skin will appear swollen and red, and you will feel tightness of the skin.  It is recommended that you ice the treated area for 30 minutes following the treatment. Glycolic, salicylic acid, and topical vitamin A derivative creams will need to be avoided for 2-3 days.  You should only wash with cold or warm water for 2-3 as well, as hot water should be avoided on the treated area.  Around 3 days after the treatment, your skin may feel very dry, so we suggest using a hydrating moisturizer that won’t cause any irritations. In 1-2 weeks, patients should expect the treated area to be fully healed.*

How many treatments are needed and how long will it last?

We typically recommend a series of 3 treatments spaced 1 month apart.* Each treatment builds on itself.  You will continue to see improvement for a few months after the 3rd treatment.* If patients take care of their skin by using sunscreen and keeping up the results with topical retinoids, the effects of the treatment can be extended.* Often we will recommend coming in for a maintenance treatment once a year for touch up treatments. We are constantly aging, so with any type of anti-aging treatment there will be maintenance required to keep up the results.*

Can laser resurfacing remove acne scars and dark marks?

Acne scars and large pores can both be improved with laser resurfacing. Acne scars can range in appearance. Most commonly they are raised red or pink scars, small holes in the skin that are known as “ice pick” scars, or as depressed or uneven areas of the face. Erbium and Carbon Dioxide laser resurfacing are two of the more traditional acne treatments, and while they can produce favorable results, they do require a lot of post procedure downtime and several days of post-treatment care.* Advances in technology have now given us a wide range of non-ablative lasers to treat these types of scars. These lasers include the Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL), the ICON 1540 fractional laser, the PicoSure Focus Lens Array, and the Affirm Multiplex. The downtime involved with these types of devices is short, as they resurface scars gradually.*

Large pores can also be improved with this type of laser skin resurfacing. With the increase in collagen production, pore visibility can be decreased. This outcome may be subtle, so patients should discuss their goals with their provider to determine whether this treatment will provide the desired level of improvement.*

For patients looking to treat the visible signs of photo damage such as dark spots, irregular pigmentation and redness, we recommend Intense Pulsed Light treatments, also referred to as IPL.* IPL is used to treat brown spots and redness on the face, neck and chest.*

Is the procedure painful?

The procedure feels like warm pinpricks on the skin and your face will feel very warm.  The procedure is typically well tolerated.

What are the side effects?

Patients can experience some minor redness and swelling post-treatment. Some patients can also experience mild acne breakouts post-treatment.

What is the difference between ablative and non-ablative lasers?

With non-ablative laser treatments, there is typically no downtime and no anesthesia required.* You can go on your lunch break, immediately put your makeup on, and head right back to work. It typically takes two to five treatments to achieve the full potential of these treatments, and it does take time to see the full benefits of this type of laser rejuvenation.* In addition, non-ablative lasers only target the skin’s dermis, which is why there is no downtime and also why you need more than one treatment.

Ablative laser treatments actually vaporize the damaged skin with an intense wavelength of light that reaches the skin’s epidermis. There are two types of ablative lasers, carbon dioxide (CO2) and Erbium (or YAG) lasers. It is also important to note that they are not for all skin types, especially darker skin. The downtime with ablative laser treatments is much greater than with non-ablative treatments. Also, the risk for potential side effects can be greater.

In our office we generally recommend non-ablative treatments over ablative treatments.  It is important to consult with your doctor about what skin treatment will work best for you.

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* Individual results may vary, and are not guaranteed.

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