By: Marlene Affeld ~
Do you look in the mirror and wonder what happened? Face it, wrinkles and fine lines are an unavoidable component of the aging process. Changes in pigmentation, skin texture, lines and wrinkles begin to appear around the age of 30 to 35 with skin becoming drier and less elastic. Excessive sun exposure and other environmental irritants can accelerate the aging process.
Unfortunately, some of us are genetically predisposed to premature wrinkling. Light haired, fair-skinned persons are especially prone to early aging. For others, diet, sun exposure, inadequate hydration, environmental pollution, stress and smoking contribute to pre-mature line and wrinkle development. Elastin and collagen make up the support structure of our skin. Aging and exposure to the elements help break down the collagen layer causing the skin’s smooth surface to develop fine lines, furrows and wrinkles.
If you have tried every expensive oil, cream, lotion and potion available to enhance your skin and remove wrinkles with less than satisfactory results, “hope is on the horizon.”
Laser skin resurfacing treatments use the very latest advances in laser technology to quickly minimize wrinkles and enhance the texture of the skin of the cheeks, forehead, eyes, mouth, and neck area.
What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?
A major advance in medical technology, laser resurfacing, also known as laser peel, lasabrasion or laser vaporization, is used to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and other disfiguring skin irregularities such as irregular pigmentation or acne scarring. An ever-evolving technology, the latest developments in laser resurfacing techniques gives plastic surgeons a new level of control in delicate areas requiring extreme precision.
The American Society of Dermatologic Surgery explains laser therapy, noting, “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. Broad spectrum, or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), has the ability to specifically treat blood vessels and pigmentation. The wavelength and power output of a particular laser or IPL typically determines its medical application.”
Are Laser Treatments Right For Me?
Laser resurfacing can bring about dramatic improvement for a multitude of facial skin problems including:
- Pucker lines around the mouth, worry wrinkles around the eyes or forehead frown lines
- Enlarged pores and shallow scarring from chickenpox or acne
- Sun-damaged or aged skin
- Listless tone and sagging texture
- Spider veins and smoker’s lines
- Warts, liver or age spots
- Birthmarks or uneven pigmentation
- Non-responsive skin following a facelift
Consult with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine if your skin condition can be improved and enhanced with laser therapy. If you have deeply pitted acne scarring or very dark skin, laser therapy may not be the right choice for you.
How Do Laser Skin Resurfacing Therapy Treatments Work?
Laser therapy is all about directed beams of light. Your dermatologic surgeon will direct concentrated, short pulsating beams of light on skin irregularities; carefully removing unwanted or damaged skin one delicate layer at a time.
This targeted approach results in fewer problems with skin lightening, also known as hypopigmentation in procedures such as acne scar removal. As the laser beam removes the outer layer of skin or epidermis, it heats the underlying skin known as the dermis. This procedure stimulates new collagen fiber growth. Following a period of healing, the skin appears firmer and smoother.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium are the two types of lasers are most commonly used in laser resurfacing.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Laser Skin Resurfacing
Used for years to treat a diverse array of skin issue including warts, wrinkles, enlarged nose oil glands and scars, the newest CO2 laser resurfacing technology employs either very short pulsing bursts of light, known as ultrapulse, with minimal heat damage, cutting or bleeding. When continuous light beams are delivered in a scanning pattern to delicately remove thin lays of tissue, the dermatologic surgeon can treat shallow tumors, warts, growth and certain precancerous conditions.
When continuously focused into a small spot of light, CO2 laser beams are able to cut the skin. This method is used to treat pigmented lesions and for eyelid surgical procedures.
The most aggressive form of laser therapy, CO2 laser resurfacing peels away old layers of inelastic skin, revealing fresh tighten skin with improved vitality. Shallow acne scars, deep wrinkles, age spots, sun damage and other such skin imperfections are virtually eliminated.
Recovery from a CO2 laser treatment takes from 10 to 14 days.
Erbium Laser Therapy Resurfacing
Do you have deep wrinkles, puckers and lines on your face, neck, check or hands? Are you worried about splotchy skin, discolorations or age spots? Erbium laser resurfacing therapy offers reduction of the signs of aging with minimal redness, bruising or swelling offering a faster recovery time than CO2 laser therapy. Talk with you doctor to determine how long it will take you to heal, however in most cases recovery time is less than a week. Erbium laser therapy is the preferred method of laser treatment for persons with darker skin tones.
In erbium laser resurfacing a high-powered laser delivers energy in a wavelength that gently penetrates skin surface. Water in the skin readily absorb the energy of the laser scattering the effect of the heat of the light beam.
Dependent on your particular skin concerns, you dermatologic surgeon may recommend a combination of these two healing therapies.
Are There Other Types Of Lasers?
The KTP laser emits a green light capable of treating certain brown or red-pigmented lesions. KTP laser treatment is highly effective in hair removal and the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions. KTP laser therapy is also particularly useful in the treatment of skin conditions of very dark skinned patients.
Non-ablative laser technology, unlike laser resurfacing technologies that removes the top layer of skin, works beneath the skin surface. Non-ablative lasers help to stimulate collagen growth; working to tighten the skin surface and improve skin tone. This type of laser treatment is effective in the treatment of fine lines and mild skin damage with the added bonus of having virtually no healing “downtime.” Types of non-ablative lasers include;
- If stretch marks, enlarged blood vessels, rosacea, birthmarks, port wine stains or a red nose like Rudolph rob your self-esteem, yellow light laser treatment can restore your confidence. Yellow lasers use an organic dye to produce yellow light. Due to its high rate of absorption by the hemoglobin, yellow light lasers are highly effective in the treatment of blood vessel disorders and safe for use on children and infants.
- Green light lasers are used for the treatment of age spots on the back of the hands and to remove freckles on the face, neck, chest and arms. Green light lasers are also useful in the treatment of facial veins.
- If a youthful mistake in good judgment resulted in an unsightly tattoo that is no longer in keeping with the body you would like to show off to the world, a red light spectrum or alexandrite light laser is effective in removing brown-pigmented lesions and old tattoos. A red light laser is also used to permanently remove unwanted facial hair.
Are Their Side Effects Or Complications I Need To Worry About?
Each and every year, tens of thousands of laser resurfacing procedure are performed successfully with patients pleased and happy with the results. Some patients, dependent on skin tone may be subject to varying degrees of pigmentation loss, particularly with CO2 laser resurfacing treatments. The risk of scarring or unpleasant complications are rare.
Tell your doctor if you are subject to outbreaks of cold sores, fever blisters or herpes sores. Laser resurfacing treatments can trigger outbreaks in patients at risk.
Typical minor side effects may occur including:
- Mild swelling
- Redness or discoloration of the treatment site
How Do I Prepare For Laser Resurfacing Surgery?
First consult with your dermatologist or plastic surgeon to determine if you are a good candidate for laser skin therapy. After reviewing your skin condition, medical history, current health status and desired results, your doctor can select which type laser resurfacing treatment is right for you.
Choose a dermatologic surgeon with extensive experience, board certification and documented training in laser skin resurfacing.
If you elect to proceed with laser resurfacing treatment, your doctor will advise you to avoid vitamin E, aspirin or ibuprofen for at least 10 days prior to the procedure. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication if you are subject to cold sore outbreaks or an antibiotic to prevent bacterial infection. Smoking is a known agent in skin damage and prolongs skin healing. If you smoke, quit for two week before and two weeks after the procedure. If you want to maintain your improved skin condition after laser treatment, quit smoking forever. It’s hard, but the payoff is huge.
Avoid sun exposure and forego face creams or acne medications that can cause skin redness, dryness or irritation.
What Happens On The Day Of Surgery?
Typically performed as an out patient procedure, laser resurfacing treatment does not require hospitalization.
Your doctor may address wrinkles or old scars around the forehead, mouth, eye area or treat your entire face. For small areas, the doctor will like inject anesthetic to numb the localized area. If your entire face is treated, the doctor will likely administer a general anesthesia. If you have treatment to a localized area, the procedure will last about 45-minutes. For an entire face treatment, the procedure may take from 2-to-3 hours.