Facial surgery or injectables have their place when it comes to treating the signs of aging such as skin laxity and wrinkles. But, the treatments aren’t quite right when your big concern is the texture of your skin or areas of uneven pigmentation. Injectables and surgery also aren’t a solution if you’re dealing with scars or have skin lesions or growths.
Laser skin resurfacing might be the most appropriate option when your concern is with the texture and color of your skin, instead of just wrinkles. But, not all laser treatments are the same. Some go deeper than others and might provide longer lasting results, in exchange for a longer recovery period. The laser treatment that’s best for you depends on the amount of aging you have and how dramatic you want your results to be.
An ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment damages or destroys the top layer of skin, creating a refreshed and more youthful appearance. Although the treatment sounds alarming, the damage is necessary to effectively tighten the skin, remove areas of hyperpigmentation, or reduce signs of scarring.
Typically, a patient receives anesthesia during an ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment, such as Erbium laser or carbon dioxide laser. Anesthesia options range from a local anesthetic to sedation. General anesthesia might also be used in some cases. The type of anesthetic used depends on the size of the area treated and the depth of the treatment.
There is some downtime required after treatment with an ablative laser. Since the treatment damages the top layer of skin, it’s likely that there will be some redness, swelling and even discomfort on the face while the skin heals. Some people find that taking a week or two off from work is necessary to give their skin time to heal.
While ablative lasers damage the top layers of skin, non-ablative lasers are non-damaging. They work by gently stimulating the production of collagen beneath the surface of skin. Along with being a more gentle treatment option, with a shorter recovery period, non-ablative laser treatments tend to produce less dramatic and less long-lasting results.
Fractionated laser skin resurfacing treatments, such as Fraxel, can go either way. They can be either ablative or non-ablative. The big difference between traditional lasers and fractional lasers is that the fractional lasers target a small area of the skin, not the entire surface. Since a smaller area is damaged compared to a traditional laser, the recovery time tends to be shorter, even though the results from the treatment can be similar.
The depth of a fractionated laser treatment depends in part on the amount of aging you have and the types of changes you would like to see. It’s possible for the treatment to be very superficial if you have just a few fine lines or very light areas of hyperpigmentation. The deepest treatment will be effective for very deep lines and creases, significant scarring, or a considerable amount of hyperpigmentation.
Intense Pulsed Light
Intense pulsed light, or IPL, can be considered one of the least invasive laser treatment options. While it effectively reaches to the dermal layer of skin to stimulate the production of collagen, an IPL treatment leaves the epidermis, or top layer of skin, alone, so that there is no external damage. Like other types of laser treatment, IPL can help minimize sun or age spots, reduce fine lines, and improve skin texture.
Since the treatment is non-ablative, usually a course of IPL is recommended. Some patients receive between three and five treatments before they see the full results they were hoping for. In some cases, it’s possible to see some results after the first treatment.
Although it usually does require a course of treatments, one of the benefits of IPL is that almost no time is needed for recovery. Most people are able to get back to their daily lives right after their treatment, although it is usually recommended that they avoid sun exposure for some time afterwards.
At the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland, Dr. Jessica Kulak, an aging face specialist, performs a variety of laser skin resurfacing procedures. She can help you decide which laser option is best for you and help you better understand what to expect from the treatment and what the recovery period, if any, will be like. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kulak at the practice in Virginia, call (703) 481-0002. For a consultation in Maryland, call (301) 222-2020 today.