Laser skin resurfacing uses controlled light beams with high intensity to vaporize and remove the upper layer of the skin. When the damaged, superficial skin is removed, it gives way for new skin to grow, which masks the face with a new layer of epidermis. Any pain during the procedure is managed with local anesthesia and/or sedatives to help the patient relax. The eyes will also be protected since lasers can be harmful to the patient’s vision. Laser skin resurfacing’s advanced technology allows accurate targeting of smaller areas so the surrounding skin is not affected. A session may take up to 2 hours depending on the patient’s skin conditions.
Laser skin resurfacing may be aggressive, depending on the patient’s aesthetic goals. The more aggressive the treatment (which is referred to as an ablative procedure) the more it wears away the epidermis to let new skin regeneration begin. Recovery with this technique may take up to 3 weeks. The lighter treatment, or non-ablative laser, does not remove any skin. It stimulates deeper layers of the skin to initiate an increased growth of collagen. With this treatment, there will be no downtime for the patient. Both techniques help the skin regenerate. As new layers of skin are developed, skin problems such as wrinkles, mild scars and discoloration are minimized.
There are two types of laser skin resurfacing: the CO2 and Erbium lasers. CO2 is the most popular type in this procedure. It is an ablative method which wounds the epidermis to give way for new skin growth and improve collagen development. The intensity of the laser beams with CO2 is high. Erbium, on the other hand, is a more gentle procedure that only removes superficial skin layers so the recovery period is quicker. Depending on the patient’s skin condition and aesthetic goals, the doctor will recommend the laser that is more suitable for the patient to render better results.
Laser resurfacing is an outpatient procedure. There may be pain during treatment, so local anesthesia can be used to minimize the patient’s discomfort. The doctor may also prescribe the patient a pain reliever after the procedure. The face may be bandaged after treatment. Since the epidermis is peeled away, the skin may appear red for several weeks. As it heals, crusting may be present. It is very important to follow the doctor’s advice on skin care to prevent any scarring. It may take a few days before the patient can resume normal activities. It may also be beneficial to use an extra pillow when sleeping to ease any discomfort.