If you wake up in the morning and your first look in the mirror reveals fine lines and wrinkles, discolored spots, rough skin texture or pores that look more like craters, it can be discouraging. The good news is technology has made leaps and bounds in the world of laser skin rejuvenation and, no matter your skin concerns, there is likely a treatment out there just for you. And many new types of laser treatments offer little to no downtime all while giving you a fresh, vibrant new look.
Ablative laser skin resurfacing works by delivering intense wavelengths of light directly to the skin in order to remove the damaged outer layer. By removing this layer, it stimulates the underlying skin to produce collagen and form new, rejuvenated skin that is smoother and tighter. Ablative lasers effectively treat fine to moderate wrinkles, liver and age spots, uneven skin tone, sun-damaged skin and acne scars. With ablative laser treatments, you may require local anesthetic injections or intravenous sedation, and recovery time can take up to 2 weeks.
While ablative lasers work directly on the skin’s surface, non-ablative lasers generate heat below the surface of the skin, causing injury deeper in the dermis, while leaving the skin’s surface untouched. Non-ablative lasers are less invasive, but because of this, the results are more moderate, and more treatments are often required in order to achieve the desired results. Sedation is not necessary, and most treatments only need a topical numbing cream to reduce discomfort. The benefit is that the downtime is much less as they do not affect the top layer of skin.
Pulsed-dye lasers are typically non-ablative, such as the V-beam Perfecta. This type of laser heats the skin to absorb pigment, making it great for reducing redness, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries and rosacea.
Fractional lasers can be either ablative or non-ablative. Examples include fractional CO2 and the PicoWay system. They work slightly different in that they break up the laser energy into thousands of small beams that target a small section of the damaged area, leaving surrounding tissue untouched. Leaving healthy, untouched skin surrounding the treated area helps promote natural healing and helps to minimize downtime. Pico laser treatments can also address the removal of unwanted tattoos.
Hybrid lasers, such as Halo™️, combine the benefits of both ablative and non-ablative lasers. While ablative lasers provide more noticeable results, they also create more downtime. Non-ablative lasers offer short to no downtime, but the results aren’t always as noticeable. Hybrid lasers, such as Halo, combine these two to get the best of both worlds. Dramatic results with minimal downtime. This treatment combines surface renewal along with deep dermal rejuvenation. It targets damage such as fine lines, enlarged pores, discoloration, problems with skin texture, sun damage and scar reduction.
Halo is also adjustable. If you want more aggressive treatments, requiring less visits, you can opt for that. In contrast, you can have less aggressive treatments that might require a few more visits to achieve the desired goals. It’s all up to you and your clinician.
Light-based treatments, such as (Intense Pulsed Light) IPL Photofacials, are technically not a type of laser treatment, but are often grouped within laser treatment offerings. Light-based treatments work to treat brown spots, redness, broken capillaries and sun damage. They work by focusing condition-specific intense light wavelengths directly on the treatment area in short pulses.
Skin Tone Considerations
Certain lasers can pose a higher risk for cell damage and discoloration if you have darker skin tones, such as Fitzpatrick skin phototype V or VI. Erbium ablative and non-ablative laser types are often a good option for lighter-toned African American, Hispanic or Asian skin tones. For people with dark brown or black skin, radiofrequency treatments or microneedling may be better treatment options. These concerns should be addressed during your initial laser resurfacing consultation.
Dr. Stephen Small is an experienced, board-certified, plastic surgeon who is a naturally artistic innovator on the cutting edge of medicine to serve his patients in the most up-to-date and personalized manner. Dr. Small hopes to enrich lives as his was with plastic surgery by enhancing or restoring each person’s natural beauty.