Laser resurfacing differs from microdermabrasion and dermabrasion because there is no physical contact between an abrasive substance and the skin. It is also different than a chemical peel treatment, which uses chemicals to “dissolve” away the skin layers. Instead, resurfacing with a laser involves the use of a high-energy light beam to reduce the signs of skin aging.
The laser that is used for this procedure is powerful enough to vaporize the outer skin layers in the area that is being treated. Removal of this skin stimulates the growth of new skin that is tighter, smoother, and younger looking. New skin completely forms in two weeks or slightly less. The use of the laser also gives the surgeon precise control of the treatment and ability to treat large areas in a short amount of time. This precision becomes very valuable for certain tricky facial areas and to control the depth of the treatment into the skin. Using a laser also means that there is very little or no bleeding and reduced risk of infection.
Laser resurfacing is a suitable treatment for the removal or diminishing of deep wrinkles, fine lines especially around the mouth and eyes (crow’s feet), age spots, birthmarks, scattered blood vessels, scars, skin cancers, tattoos, warts, and uneven skin tones. Laser resurfacing can also be used to smooth and tighten eyelid skin and slightly loose skin in other areas. The treatment also generally improves skin tone and texture.
The treatment time can range anywhere from a couple of minutes to 2 hours and depends on the type of problem that is being treated and its severity. Local anesthetic is generally used on the treatment area. General anesthetic and a hospital stay may be required for laser rejuvenation procedures that are more extensive. Results from laser resurfacing can last up to 10 years.
Side effects from laser resurfacing are more significant that a microdermabrasion procedure. Pain is usually present after treatment and is usually described as being similar to a bad sunburn. Swelling, scarring, blistering, sensitivity to make-up are all possible side effects. The treated skin may be bright red or pink in colour and this pigmentation may last for up to six months. Individuals with darker skin tones may suffer from darker skin pigmentation for several months. Keloid healers (individuals that tend to form scars when healing from a skin injury) should not undergo this treatment. Exposure to the sun without proper protection should be avoided for up to six months after the procedure.
Photo rejuvenation uses intense pulses of filtered light. The light penetrates the outer skin layers, without damaging these layers, and is absorbed by deeper tissues. Because it does not damage the surface tissues, this procedure is referred to as a non-ablative treatment. The light energy stimulates new collagen formation within the skin matrix, leading to a reduction in the signs of skin aging. The result is that the skin will have more tone, it will look and feel smoother and healthier. The light also directly acts on dilated vessels or irregular pigmented skin cells below the surface of the skin to reduce discolouration and other related abnormalities.
The photo rejuvenation procedure can be performed in the physician’s office and normally takes around 15 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the area that needs to be treated. A series of treatments (5 to 8, with each treatment spread apart by about 3 weeks) is usually administered in order to achieve optimum results.
Photo rejuvenation is useful in treating fine to moderate wrinkles, red-flushed skin complexion (from rosacea), effects of sun-damaged skin, hyper pigmentation, and large pores. It can be used on various areas of the body such as the hands, neck, chest, and face. It cannot be used on patients with excessive sagging skin.
Photo skin rejuvenation is a safe, fast, easy, and effective treatment. It is gentle to the skin and produces few side effects, which may include temporary redness or mild bruising. A stinging pain can be felt during the procedure and therefore, a topical anesthetic may be used to make the patient more comfortable. There is no downtime and the patient can resume normal activities immediately. Certain precautions may be recommended by the physician, such as ensuring sunscreen is used when outdoors and following proper skin care procedures.
ELECTROSURGICAL RESURFACING (“Cold Ablation”)
Electrosurgical resurfacing differs a bit from laser resurfacing because it involves the use of a micro-electrical radio frequency that delivers a pulse of energy to the skin. It is a rather new treatment that can be effective in eliminating or improving minor to moderate skin imperfections. The procedure is suitable for most skin types and colour and it is unlikely that any loss of skin pigmentation will occur.
Side effects are fewer than laser resurfacing and usually only consist of mild to moderate swelling of the treated areas and surrounding tissues.