As we age, the inevitable starts happening to our skin – wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, blotches, scars, the list goes on and on. The good news is, laser skin resurfacing may be the key to zapping our skin problems away – quickly, effectively and non-invasively.
What exactly is Laser Resurfacing?
Designed to help with a myriad of skin abnormalities, laser resurfacing uses a technique that directs concentrated, pulsating beams of light at the skin. This process removes damaged skin layer by layer, allowing new cells to form and heal the skin, resulting in a more healthy, youthful-looking glow1.
Bonus: Unlike the after effects that come with surgery or injections, laser resurfacing provides dramatic results often without any facial changes or side effects whatsoever. In fact, your skin can recover in as little as a couple days with minimal discomfort2.
Can it Help with Skin Discolouration?
Age spots, brown spots, sun damage – otherwise known as spots of over-pigmentation. The culprit? An overproduction of melanin3 (that’s the substance that gives our hair, eyes and skin its colour). Even if you are diligent in wearing your SPF all year round, you may not escape the possibility of getting spots. Depending on the severity and type, there are a number of different laser treatments that can help remove unwanted pigmentation in specific areas.
How About Wrinkles?
Crow’s feet, frown lines, forehead wrinkles – they’re all a result of collagen and elastic breakdown. As we age, production deteriorates leaving wrinkles behind. Fortunately, laser treatments can give the skin the much-needed youthful boost it craves. They work by stimulating collagen and elastin production thus proving a very effective treatment in helping smooth away almost any wrinkle quickly and effectively4.
To get a better understanding of the types of treatments available, let’s take a closer look and compare a couple of the more popular laser treatments out there.
Fraxel Laser Treatment
This type of treatment is less invasive than regular laser resurfacing. Instead of removing layers of skin, this procedure works by producing tiny microscopic sites or mini-traumas deep into the skin, which it will immediately start to repair. Essentially, it pushes out the damaged skin while triggering the body’s production of collagen, thereby generating new skin5.
Best suited for: Younger patients (under 50) who suffer from the effects of acne scarring, sun spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
Not suited for: Skin redness
Pre-procedure: A topical anesthetic is applied up to an hour before the procedure to help numb the skin.
Procedure: Several passes of the laser occur directly at the site of the damaged skin. It usually lasts 60 minutes each time (4-6 sessions are usually required), depending on the size of area that needs to be treated.
Post-procedure: Immediately after the procedure, the skin feels warm, almost sunburnt. Redness and swelling are common at the site for up to 5 days, after which the treated area starts to bronze and flake away revealing the new, youthful skin underneath.
Healing: Ice packs help ease the sting as well as the redness and swelling. Also, moisturizing cream is recommended to help minimize the appearance of flaking or peeling, which lasts up to 14 days6.
Fraxel vs. Fraxel Dual – What’s the Difference?
Both the Fraxel and the Fraxel Dual use the same moderate laser, however the Fraxel Dual also emits a second laser that excels at removing excess skin pigmentation7, like freckles and sunspots.
Intense Pulsed Light Treatment (or IPL)
This type of procedure uses high intensity pulses of visible light to help improve the skin’s appearance in problem areas. The light beam passes through the skin, breaking up melanin pigment and hemoglobin8. This breakdown of tiny particles get absorbed into the body making spots and appear less visible. This type of treatment usually requires 3-5 visits depending on the size of the area being treated.
Best suited for: Removal of freckles, spider veins, age spots, sun spots and reducing redness and rosacea.
Not suited for: Wrinkles
Pre-treatment: A cool gel is placed on the skin to help minimize discomfort. Patients are also given glasses to protect eyes from the laser.
Procedure: The smooth glass surface of the laser treatment device is placed on the skin as it emits pulses of light to the affected area. The procedure usually takes 30-90 minutes each time (3-5 sessions are usually required) depending on the size of the treatment area.
Post-treatment: Treated areas tend to look darker for up to 7 days post treatment, after which some crusting may occur as the area fully heals (which can take up to a month).
Healing: Applying a moisturizer with sunscreen to the treated areas as they heal will help9.
It’s comforting to know that there are so many non-invasive advancements in the treatment of certain skin conditions. Before you decide to use any laser procedures, make sure you book an appointment with a dermatologist first to make sure you choose the right treatment for your specific skin condition. Remember, everyone is different and treatment will vary from person to person.
- University of California San Francisco Medical Center. Retrieved from: https://www.ucsfhealth.org/treatments/skin_resurfacing/
- Macrene R.Alexiades-Armenakas MD, Jeffrey S.Dover MD, Kenneth A.Arndt MD (2008) The spectrum of laser skin resurfacing: Nonablative, fractional, and ablative laser resurfacing. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190962208000832
- American Academy of Dermatology (2013) Variety of options available to treat pigmentation problems. Retrieved from: https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/variety-of-options-available-to-treat-pigmentation-problems
- Semin Cutan Med Surg. (2013) Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
- Dr. Brandith Irwin, Md. Guide to Fraxel (Fractional Resurfacing Laser) Retrieved from: https://www.skintour.com/lasers-radiofrequency-devices/laser-treatments/guide-to-fraxel-fractional-lasers/
- Lawrence S. Bass, MD (2005) Rejuvenation of the Aging Face Using Fraxel Laser Treatment. Retrieved from: https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/25/3/307/228307
- Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD. Guide to Fraxel Dual Laser. Retrieved from: https://www.skintour.com/lasers-radiofrequency-devices/laser-treatments/guide-to-fraxel-dual-laser/
- M Sachdev, A Samynathan - Textbook of Lasers in Dermatology (2016) Intense Pulsed Light Therapy. Retrieved from: https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=-HKJDAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA54&dq=intense+pulsed+light+therapy&ots=8pnW3Ygxv2&sig=ohBw53GeuFMpZQd0IYCKOvNY28Q#v=onepage&q=intense%20pulsed%20light%20therapy&f=false
- Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD. Guide to Fraxel Dual Laser. Retrieved from: https://www.skintour.com/lasers-radiofrequency-devices/laser-treatments/guide-to-ipl-photorejuvenation-laser/