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The Ultimate Guide to Laser Skin Resurfacing

September 15, 2021
laser skin resurfacing

What is laser skin resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing, also called lasabrasion, laser pelling, or laser vaporization is the process of using lasers to help reduce a wide variety of skin conditions such as wrinkles, scars, blemishes from your skin. 

 

Types of Lasers

There are two types of lasers used in laser skin resurfacing, that is ablative lasers and non-ablative lasers. Each type of laser has its own advantages, and this guide will help you determine which type of laser is best for you. These two types are ablative and nonablative lasers. 

  • Ablative lasers – These lasers work by removing the outer layer of skin known as the epidermis and stimulates the underlying skin, the dermis. These types of treatments are more invasive, making them a better choice for treating mild to moderate wrinkles, facial scarring, and skin discoloration. You will see results after one treatment, but the recovery process will be longer. As the epidermis heals and regrows, the treated area appears smoother and tighter. Types of ablative treatments include the following.
    • Fractional C02
    • Erbium 
    • Combination systems
  • Nonablative laser– These lasers improve the appearance of mild wrinkles, minor scars, and discolorations like liver spots by heating the skin without injuring the surface of the skin. These lasers stimulate collagen growth, which over time helps improve skin tone and texture. This approach can be done with various types of lasers as well as intense Broadband light (BBL). Non-Ablative laser resurfacing is less invasive and requires less recovery time than ablative laser resurfacing.
    • ND: Yag
    • Broadband light
    • Moxi

 

What can laser skin resurfacing treat?

Laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat a number of skin conditions. 

  • Wrinkles
  • Skin irregularities such as acne scars or blemishes
  • Aged or sun damaged skin
  • Eczema
  • Stretch marks
  • Warts
  • Liver spots
  • Birthmarks
  • Enlarged oil glands
  • Tattoos 

Who can get laser 

Laser skin resurfacing is a good option if you have been trying over the counter products of one of the above skin conditions without results. You should consult your doctor if you have one of the following disqualifiers. 

  • Have taken the acne medication isotretinoin during the previous year
  • Have an autoimmune disease or a weak immune system
  • Have had radiation therapy on your face
  • Are prone to cold sores or have had a recent outbreak of cold sores or herpes virus
  • Have a darker skin tone
    • Certain lasers do not work as well with darker skin tones, but your surgeon will know which is best (like Erbium or Moxi)
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

 

Who performs the procedure? 

There is a lot of information floating around about what qualifications are adequate.You should have your surgery performed by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist certified by one of three boards. The top tier of qualification would be a surgeon certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). This is the highest standard for specialty medical practice and physicians must meet the highest standard to become Board Certified. To become certified by the ABMS, a surgeon must have at least six years of surgical training, as well as an accredited plastic surgery training program. They must also complete thousands of hours of cosmetic and reconstructive surgery procedures, and pass a rigorous written and oral examination, as well as continued education to maintain their accreditation. The ABMS recognizes two other boards, the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The ABMS does not certify cosmetic surgeons. Many cosmetic surgeons are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) however this board is not recognized by the ABMS. The requirements to become certified by the ABCS are much less rigorous, they require experience in 300 procedures along with one oral and written exam, there are no continued education requirements. In 2018 California ruled that ABCS was denied the right to advertise as “Board Certified”. Use this link to find out if your surgeon is an ABMS Certified practitioner.

Things to know before your laser skin resurfacing appointment 

If you get cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth, laser skin resurfacing can trigger breakouts. 10 days before your appointment you should refrain from taking supplements and medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and vitamin E. NASID’s (non steroid anti inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen thin your blood and make it harder for damaged skin to clot. This could lead to excessive bleeding after your procedure so it is best to avoid these starting 10 days before your appointment. 

Depending on your procedure, you will likely receive some form of anesthetic. Some non-invasive forms of anesthetic include topical creams, cryoanesthesia, or a combination of both. Some more invasive forms include nerve blockers, a local anesthetic injection, and finally supervised anesthesia. 

 

Types of lasers and their specialties 

Fractional C02

Laser to the dermis deeper layer of skin, laser stimulates and rejuvenates cells to produce collagen and produces a more natural appearance,  blending with the surrounding skin, the end result is more elastic skin, improved texture and quality, and more youthful appearance.Results produce lasting a natural results, your skin rejuvenates itself

Recovery happens in two phases

  1. 7-10 days after treatment, changes to texture and quality, smoother skin and improvements in fine lines and wrinkles
  2. 12 months after- full effects, body will produce new collagen and improve elasticity, tightening, and help even out skin tone 

Broadband Light (BBL)

Targets signs of aging, sun damage, and other skin conditions. BBL can treat brown pigmentation often found in aging spots or freckles. BBL can also target vascular problems such as smaller blood vessels, excess redness, and rosacea. 

  • How it works: BBL targets the upper layer of your skin, gently heating it. This heat stimulates your skin cells to regenerate. If your target is redness, the blood vessels will absorb the energy causing them to close off, following treatment your body will reabsorb the destroyed vessels. If you are targeting a brown spot, such as a freckle or liver spot, the laser will target the pigmented particles, breaking them up. 7-14 days after your treatment those spots will peel off.
  • How many treatments will you need?: Your treatment should be personalized based on your needs. Typically complete corrections require 3-4 treatments.
  • Recovery: After your treatment you will have redness that may feel like a sunburn. Depending on the area of treatment you may experience swelling for a day or two. After vascular treatment you may see what looks like bruising, this is from the blood of the targeted vessels. Be sure to use sunscreen after your treatment as your skin will be more sensitive to sunlight.

Moxi

A non ablative fractional laser resurfacing treatment that can aid in the correction of the initial signs of sun damage and aging by fixing uneven pigmentation and improving the general tone and texture of the skin by way of collagen stimulation. Moxi is designed to treat all skin types. Moxi also works particularly well with younger patients, or those who are just starting their skincare journey, as it is quick, effective, and has a short recovery period. Because it is non ablative, the recovery time for moxi is a lot shorter than say a Fractional C02 treatment. Moxi is a quick procedure that is usually completed within 30 minutes. Moxi lasers produce gentile micro-pulses to induce controlled damage to desired targeted areas. Your body will naturally remove these damaged cells and replace them with new cells, resulting in fresh and vibrant new skin.

Recovery with moxi is very quick, with patients being able to apply makeup as soon as 24 hours after their treatment. 

Erbium (Er:YAG)

Lasers can be ablative or non-ablative. Erbium treatmetns promote collagen remodeling, making them popular options for treating fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and age spots.The Erbium laser emits light that is absorbed by water as the light hits the skin which vaporizes the tissues holding that water. This controlled vaporization of the superficial skin cells leads to collagen remodeling and healing, as it stimulates the formation of collagen which will tighten the skin further. The object is to damage the skin to stimulate it just enough to promote healing. This damage will be similar to a burn and afterwards with potential for the skin to ooze. Deeper wrinkles require more treatment, while shallow scars and wrinkles may be completely erased after just one treatment.

Healing typically takes around a week. There may be mild swelling and inflammation, but it will recede within a week’s time. Keep the area clean, and you may be given an antibiotic ointment.

ND: YAG

Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet is a crystal that is used as a medium for solid state lasers. This laser works by emitting a high energy wavelength of light which, when focused on certain skin conditions, will create heat and destroy diseased cells. ND Yag can treat a wide range of conditions including vascular lesions, pigmented lesions such as liver spots and freckles , hair removal, and even tattoo removal. The vascular conditions ND yag can treat include, varicose veins, spider veins, facial veins, vascular birthmarks and vascular tumors. 

 

Maintenance/upkeep after a laser skin resurfacing treatment

After your procedure is completed you will need to keep the treated area clean. You will want to clean the area 4 to 5 times a day, as well as applying an ointment such as petroleum jelly to prevent the area from scabbing over. Depending on your swelling, you may be prescribed steroids to help the swelling. You will likely be itchy in the areas where your treatment took place, this will subside within a few days. Typically 10- 20 days after you start your healing you can start wearing oil free makeup. 

After surgery you should be using a broad spectrum sunscreen as your new skin is more susceptible to sun damage. You want a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from both UV-A and UV-B rays. You also want to choose a sunscreen with a high zinc oxide content that is at least spf 30. If you can use clothing to protect your skin that is a better option than sunscreen as you don’t have to worry about reapplication. Keep your skin moist with an ointment like petroleum jelly, this will promote your skin to heal and prevent scabs. 

Schedule your laser skin treatment today with milk and honey. 

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