Laser skin treatments are a method of resurfacing to improve appearance and treat flaws. Also known as laser skin resurfacing, it can be beneficial to those with age spots, crow’s feet, wrinkles, stretch marks, sun damage, scars, sagging skin and facial blemishes. It is currently one of the most effective means of correcting mild to moderate facial scarring as a result of either previous surgery or an injury.
Those with active acne, prone to keloid scarring or have really dark skin are usually not good candidates for this procedure, as well as those on prescription medications like Accutane® or with existing health conditions like connective tissue disorders that might cause an unnecessary risk while undergoing the procedure or during the recovery phase. Thankfully there are mild alternatives to the procedure like microdermabrasion and chemical peels which can be utilized if you fall into this category.
If your skin has elasticity to it and it is not too oily and doesn’t scar easily, chances are you are a good candidate for having this performed. Just be sure to have realistic expectations of the outcome.
What takes place is the damaged skin cells are smoothed layer by layer so that a more uniform appearance of the skin is the end result.
Cost: $2,500 per session on average.
Consult with your dermatologist if this is something you are considering. They will most likely go over your medical history, conduct a physical exam and ask about your expectations. Those with a history of herpes infections will be prescribed a medication to prevent a viral infection. Smokers will most likely be asked to refrain from smoking for a time period. Exposure to the sun should be minimized, and you may be asked to apply a retinoid onto your skin leading up to the day of your procedure.
Two different types are ablative, like Carbon Dioxide (C02) which are more invasive and remove the top layer of the skin, leaving it red for a while after the procedure as it begins to heal. The non-ablative ones (erbium) utilize heat which stimulates cells, allowing the collagen to thicken and this provides for better elasticity and overall skin tone. Recovery time is minimal with this type. The Thermage® treatment falls under this category. It encourages the growth of new collagen in the lower level of the dermis.
Fraxel® laser skin treatments are distinct from the others that use either the erbium or the CO2 laser. Since it is non-invasive, there are very few post-treatment side effects. There is rarely any skin tenderness or pain afterwards and no downtime is required. This type, however, must be repeated over the course of a few weeks or months.
Healing takes a week to 10 days on average, depending on the depth of the resurfacing and type of laser used. Recovery might take as long as several weeks.
Side effects and complications of laser skin treatments such as these include swelling, itching, a burning sensation, issues with pigmentation, scarring, bumps and possible infection.