Laser skin regeneration is now one of the most popular methods of inducing collagen growth in the skin. Lasers are effective at treating the five major signs of photo-aging:
- Brown Spotting
- Wrinkles and Fine Lines
- Enlarged Pores
- Sagging Skin
- Spider Veins
Early On Laser Was High Risk, High Reward
“Laser skin rejuvenation” or regeneration are terms which refer to a large number of various treatments. Initially laser treatment involved the ‘stripping off’ of the whole layer of the epidermis and portions of the upper layer of the dermis. This was highly aggressive, so patients would have an open wound on the surface of the skin. The results for moderate to severe photo-aging (lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, lax skin) were phenomenal. The problem, however, was there was a lot of down time, with the skin oozing and weeping for about a week, with subsequent redness for a couple of months. In addition, there was a fairly significant risk of permanent scarring, such as lightening of the skin and irregular color and texture of the skin.
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Lasers Further Developed
As a result we began to look for ways to get a similar effect without the downtime or the risk. Then non-ablative laser resurfacing was developed. Non-ablative resurfacing uses lasers or other light sources to protect the surface layers of the skin, leaving them intact, and focusing the laser energy to the deeper dermal portion of the skin. This creates little downtime, generally just some redness post-treatment. These treatments are usually very effective at removing pigmentation problems and spider veins.
We also use fractional laser treatments to improve wrinkles and improve skin texture and laxity. This is a technique where we use lasers and other energy sources to treat through the epidermis and into the dermis at varying depths, but treat it in a fractional manner. With this method we are only treating 20-30% of the surface of the skin. A way to think of this is very similar to when you have a lawn aerated. The laser goes along and punches little holes in the skin but there is normal skin in between that helps that area grow in healthier. What this has allowed us to do is have a little bit more downtime with redness and swelling, but very little risk of scarring. We get more benefit for the fine lines and coarser wrinkles and some of the other issues associated with photo-damage.
Before beginning any treatment regimen for your aging skin, it’s important to wear sunscreen. There are also clear window films which can help block the UV exposure we get while driving. This will prevent the skin from receiving further sun damage while treatment is undergone.
Laser Treatment Side Effects
With non-ablative laser resurfacing, which leaves the surface of the skin intact and targets the deeper skin layers, the risk of side effects is generally very low. There are also fractional lasers which usually have lower risks of side effects. Some side effects from laser treatment may include some swelling, redness, sun sensitivity, and hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. Side effects from laser are usually avoidable if the laser surgeon uses the correct laser for the skin type and condition.