Newer options cause less damage but also might be less effective, depending on the amount of aging and skin damage you are treating. If you are thinking about laser skin resurfacing, knowing what’s available and what each option can and can’t do, will help you pick the best treatment.
The Original Laser Treatment
It might seem counterintuitive, but ablative laser treatments wound or damage the top layer of skin in order to improve its appearance. The laser produces heat that destroys skin cells. Once the old, dead, or otherwise damaged cells are destroyed, new fresher cells are able to form. Along with removing that top layer of dead cells, ablative laser treatments help stimulate the production of collagen in the dermis layer of the skin. This results in fewer age spots and fine lines, as well as skin that is firmer and more elastic.
As you might expect from a treatment that damages skin, there are some drawbacks to an ablative laser treatment. For one thing, this type of laser skin resurfacing isn’t suitable for all patients. The intensity of the laser can cause changes in the skin’s pigmentation. For that reason, it’s usually not recommended to patients with darker complexions.
Recovery after an ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment can also be long. Initial recovery can take up to two weeks, during which your skin may be very red and raw. It might feel as though you have a bad sunburn. There could be some peeling and oozing in the treated area.
The New Laser Treatment
Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing treatments, like Fraxel, Laser Genesis, and Cutera Titan, don’t cause damage to the outer layer of skin. Instead, the treatment focuses on the lower layers of the skin, stimulating collagen production to smooth lines and make skin firmer. Non-ablative laser treatments are shorter and require less downtime than ablative treatments. The trade-off is that patients typically need more treatments to get similar results.
Usually, patients can get back to their regular routines right away or within just a few days. There might be some redness and swelling in the treated area, but there won’t be peeling or a great deal of discomfort. Results typically appear over time, instead of right away.
The Laser Treatment With No Recovery Time
Intense pulse light, or LimeLight IPL, is another type of non-ablative laser treatment. Unlike other laser treatments, IPL uses broad spectrum light, instead of a limited wavelength. Since the treatment doesn’t damage skin, the recovery time is practically non-existent. Multiple treatments are usually needed to get the desired results. In many cases, patients schedule three IPL sessions, each spaced about 3 weeks apart.
Like other types of laser treatments, IPL tends to stimulate collagen production. The treatment is commonly used for pigmentation problems. For example, people with age spots or freckles might undergo IPL to fade the spots. It’s also an effective treatment for people with rosacea, visible blood vessels or other areas of redness on the face. As with ablative laser treatments, IPL treatments are usually recommended for people with lighter complexions.
The Laser That Removes Hair
Laser treatments not only improve the skin, they can also remove unwanted hair from a number of areas on the body. The heat from the laser beam is absorbed by the pigment in the hair follicle, causing damage to the follicle. Since the heat from the laser can cause some discomfort, most of the current laser hair removal systems feature a cooling component that reduces the temperature of the skin and increases comfort and reduces any sensations of pain.
Some preparation is usually required before laser hair removal. It’s recommended that you don’t wax or pluck your hair for about six weeks before the laser treatment.
This is because you’ll need to have intact follicles for the laser to work effectively. While you can’t wax, you might be asked to shave the area the night before your treatment, so that the laser can work better.
Depending on the size of the area being treated, you may need a series of treatments before you get the results you want. After laser hair removal, and any other type of laser treatment, protecting your skin from the sun is a must. Your surgeon will most likely recommend wearing sunscreen daily and avoiding extensive sun exposure, especially in the first few days following treatment.
Contact Mirror Mirror and Book a Free Consultation
Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique offers a variety of laser treatments. To find out which one is most appropriate for you and to learn more about what you can expect, book a consultation at our practice today. If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation, please contact a patient coordinator at our office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 281-810-9083. You can also reach us by email.
Every treatment is monitored by Dr. Paul Vitenas. He has practiced in the Houston area since 1990. He has been named one of Houston’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Plastic Surgeons. He has also been awarded Houston’s Most Compassionate Doctor and a Top Doctor for Women.
The office of Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery and the Fine Art of Natural Cosmetic Surgery is conveniently located in the heart of Houston. If you are not a local, we can schedule an online consultation. We can also assist with travel and financing arrangements. We think you will see the reflection of something great at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique.