Laser Skin Resurfacing
Lasers can be classified as either Non-ablative or Ablative. Non-ablative lasers treat problems such as broken capillaries under the surface of the skin and brown patches or “age-spots” on the face. Recovery time from these treatments is extremely short and most patients report little to no downtime following therapy. Ablative lasers, such as the Pearl Fractionated, and Fraxel Re:pair carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, vaporize the microscopic columns of skin improving both wrinkles and scarring of the face as well as improving some of the skin redness and pigmentation.. The Pearl Fractionated laser is more universal as I can treat most light types of skin whereas the Fraxel CO2 laser can only three very light skin. Using these types of lasers one gets skin tightening and is often used to resurface wrinkles of both the lower eyelid and upper lip. These lasers can be used in the neck for crêpy skin. Recovery time from ablative laser treatment is slightly longer with most patients being socially acceptable with make-up or camouflage 2 weeks after treatment. Patients treated with Ablative lasers will have pinkness of the treated areas which usually disappears 6 weeks.
There is a technique called Pearl laser in which the superficial layers of the skin are heated up and five days later the surface of the skin look smoother with less pigmentation. This laser helps with the very superficial problems of the skin and can treat anything from mild wrinkles to pigmentation. The texture of the skin is significantly improved. Often patients with older looking skin with Sun damage wanted combination of Pearl plus Pearl fractionated laser at the same time. This combination therapy significantly improved the appearance of the skin plus the quality. This combination therapy is called Pearl fusion as it truly is a fusion between lasering the deeper layers as well is the superficial layers.
Additional Information About Laser Resurfacing
The ideal candidate for laser resurfacing is someone who is physically healthy, realistic in their expectations, and looking to improve the appearance of fine wrinkles, scars, or areas of uneven pigmentation on the face and neck. This procedure may not be appropriate for those patients with darker skin tones including olive, brown, or black as they may be at increased risk for permanent skin pigmentation changes.
Laser resurfacing is typically performed as an outpatient procedure and can take place in Dr. Ellis’ office-based facility. Local anesthesia combined with intravenous sedation is most commonly used, although today we give medicine by mouth and topical anesthesia for one hour minimize any pain. Depending upon the size of the area being treated, the procedure can take anywhere from a few minutes to two hours to complete. In some severe cases, more than one treatment session may be required. Dr. Ellis will address the recommended number of treatments during the consultation process. It must be remembered that patients with acne scarring as well as other scarring cannot be made perfect but there is always significant improvement with this technology.
Patients typically experience some mild swelling and discomfort after the procedure which can be controlled by applying ice packs or cold Vaseline, or with pain medication prescribed by Dr. Ellis. Vaseline and other major lubricants is applied topically for 5 – 7 days to speed the healing process. Patients who have a history of cold sores will have to take and antiviral drug called Valtrax to prevent any breakout of the cold sores. Redness from the procedure can last from several weeks to months, although makeup can be worn after two weeks to help conceal it. Most patients are able to return to work approximately two weeks following laser treatment. It is important that patient’s avoid strenuous activities for two weeks, and minimize sun exposure until the redness disappears to optimize their results.
The potential complications that can occur with laser resurfacing include abnormal changes in skin pigmentation, scarring, infection, and burns or other heat-related injuries.
The choice of which laser the best for your condition will depend on the consultation by Dr. Ellis. Do you have lax skin, wrinkled skin, sun damaged skin, scarring related to acne or surgery or trauma? Dr. Ellis would be happy to see you in consultation to see whether these technologies would be suitable for your skin concerns.