How is laser skin resurfacing performed?
You will likely get laser skin resurfacing in a surgeon’s office. There are several laser skin resurfacing techniques and devices. Your aesthetic plastic surgeon will help you select the option that’s best for you.
Below outlines the general steps; however, these steps may vary depending on the type of laser skin resurfacing treatment you get.
- Before the treatment begins, your surgeon will give you an eye shield that will protect your eyes from the laser.
- During laser skin resurfacing, your surgeon passes a wand over your skin and the resurfacing laser emits a very brief pulse of high-intensity light that penetrates the upper layers of your skin.
- When your treatment is complete, your surgeon may cover your resurfaced skin with petroleum jelly or another protective ointment. In some cases, your surgeon will apply dressings, tape, or a bandage.
- As your skin heals, healthier, younger-looking tissue emerges.
What are my laser skin resurfacing options?
Laser resurfacing techniques can be performed to varying depths, depending on your needs. Your surgeon will recommend an approach that aligns with the treatment depth you require, your aesthetic goals, and the amount of time you have available for recovery.
There are a wide variety of devices used for laser skin resurfacing that are classified into three main groups:
Ablative lasers use rapid pulses of high-intensity light to remove the damaged upper layers of your skin, thereby smoothing and tightening the skin, eliminating wrinkles, stimulating collagen growth and correcting pigmentation problems. These devices remove skin by creating a uniform injury to your skin, similar to a deeper chemical peel or dermabrasion. The surgeon removes thin layers of surface skin with each pass of the wand. Many surgeons feel that this type of laser gives them greater control over the depth of injury than chemical peels or dermabrasion.
Non-ablative lasers are non-wounding and less invasive, but also less intense. They act by stimulating collagen growth and tightening the underlying skin. These devices do not remove skin. Instead, as the surgeon passes the laser over the skin, the light causes a degree of heat damage to the skin's upper or deeper layers. While these lasers remove some fine lines and wrinkles, you may not see the results until months after the procedure.
These devices can be either ablative or nonablative. The laser "drills" tiny holes into the deeper layer of your skin, and your skin tightens by constricting the tiny holes. While there is less surface injury with these lasers, there is a greater depth of injury. These devices treat fine lines, deeper wrinkles, sun damage, acne scarring, and melasma (irregular brown spots).
Your surgeon may choose from one or a combination of the following devices, depending on your skin type and the area being treated:
- Carbon dioxide laser
- Erbium: YAG laser
- Variable Pulse Erbium laser
If you have fine lines, coarse wrinkling, or deep acne scarring, laser skin resurfacing may not be the best option for you and your surgeon may recommend a different treatment approach.
Depending on your skin type, the severity of sun damage, the extent of uneven pigmentation, and the depth of skin imperfections, your surgeon may recommend a combination treatment plan in which they use different resurfacing devices to improve your results.
If you are getting a facelift or eyelid surgery, your surgeon may recommend you have a laser skin resurfacing procedure at the same time.