The sun and time can take a toll on your skin, especially your face. Thanks to advances in skincare, however, you have access to several treatment options to improve your complexion and skin. One of the more common non-surgical procedures is laser skin resurfacing. Also called a laser skin peel or laser vaporization, laser skin resurfacing seeks to reduce a variety of minor skin issues. This relatively new laser technology allows doctors to repair these skin issues precisely, giving you a fresher and rejuvenated appearance.
What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?
When you age, fine lines and wrinkles form because of genetics, the sun, and your lifestyle. Laser skin resurfacing removes layers of targeted skin with accuracy. The new skin cells that form afterward create a tighter and younger appearance. It can treat a variety of skin issues, including:
- Liver spots.
- Scars from chickenpox or acne.
- Fine lines or wrinkles.
- Enlarged oil glands on the nose.
- Sun-damaged or aged spots.
For this outpatient procedure, the doctor uses an anesthetic to numb the treated areas. Depending on how many areas of the face are being treated, you might require general anesthesia. Targeting just parts of the face takes about 30 to 45 minutes, but a full-face treatment can take up to two hours. Afterward, your skin should have improved texture, tone, and pore size, plus a more youthful appearance.
Who Can Get Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is a good option for anyone who previously tried using over-the-counter products for the above skin issues but has yet to experience optimal results. However, patients with darker skin tones have a higher risk of healing with darker pigmentation. Talk with your physician to see whether laser skin resurfacing is the best option for your circumstances.
What Types of Lasers Are Used?
Most facilities use two types of lasers for skin resurfacing procedures. The adjustable laser can be tailored to the needs of each patient, so you can rest assured that the procedure you select can best address your specific skin issue. Different procedures require certain lasers, so it's helpful to know this information before your consultation appointment.
These lasers remove the outer layer of the skin, also known as the epidermis, and stimulate the underlying layers. This kind of treatment is more intense, but it's a better option if you want to remove moderate wrinkles, skin discoloration, and facial scarring. You will typically see results after just one session, but the recovery process can be lengthy. Once your epidermis heals, the treated area appears tighter and smoother. Some common types of ablative treatments include the following:
- Erbium: This type of laser treatment targets collagen remodeling to tighten fibers in the face, making it a common choice to treat fine lines, age spots, dark spots from sun damage, and wrinkles. The laser emits light that becomes absorbed by water when the light hits the skin.
- Fractional CO2. With this procedure, the laser goes into the deeper layer of the dermis, where it stimulates and rejuvenates cells to produce collagen. As a result, you achieve a more natural appearance thanks to more elastic skin and an overall improved texture.
These lasers are used more to change the appearance of shallow scars, mild wrinkles, and minor discolorations such as liver spots. This process involves heating the skin while not injuring its surface, so it stimulates collagen growth. Over time, the skin's texture begins to improve. Some common types of non-ablative treatments include the following:
- Broadband light: The laser targets the upper layer of the skin and gently heats it, stimulating the skin cells to regenerate. This procedure treats sun damage, aging, and freckles.
- Moxi: This treatment can reverse the beginning stages of aging and sun damage by correcting uneven pigmentation and improving the skin's overall tone. It works well for younger patients because it's a quick process with a short recovery time.
What Should You Know Before the Procedure?
When meeting with a physician for the first time, make sure to discuss your medical history regarding chronic facial skin conditions. Laser treatment procedures can cause breakouts if you're at risk, especially if you get frequent fever blisters or cold sores. Physicians will likely ask you to refrain from taking medications or supplements that can affect clotting for about 10 days before the procedure. If you smoke nicotine, it's important to stop for two weeks before the procedure and two weeks afterward, as smoking decreases how much oxygen your skin cells receive.
Depending on the type of procedure you're having, you'll likely receive some sort of anesthetic. Non-invasive forms of anesthetic include cryoanesthesia, topical creams, or a combination of the two. If you're scheduling a more complex, invasive procedure, you might be given nerve blockers, a local anesthetic injection, or supervised general anesthesia.
What Should You Know After the Procedure?
After the procedure, you'll need to take good care of the targeted facial area. It's best to clean the area four or five times each day and apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly to prevent scabs from forming. If the area swells, your doctor can prescribe steroids to minimize the after-effect. The area might also feel itchy, but this feeling should subside after a few days. About 10 to 20 days after the procedure, you should be able to wear oil-free makeup. Most people can even return to work or other daily activities immediately after their procedure.
Once your face heals, you'll likely notice that your skin is lighter, so it's important to use the proper sunscreen afterward. Use a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen, which protects your skin from ultraviolet A and B rays. Find an option that works best for your skin type, has at least a 7% zinc oxide content, and contains a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Avoid too much sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours, and more often if you're spending long hours under the sun, especially if you're swimming outdoors.
To learn more about laser skin resurfacing, reach out to our experts at the biostation. We work with you to determine your best treatment options and the number of sessions you need to achieve your desired results. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.