3 Things You Need to Know About Laser Skin Resurfacing
If you’re looking for a less costly alternative to chemical peels and dermabrasion procedures, laser skin resurfacing may be the answer you’ve been looking for. As a dermatology and cosmetic technique, the benefits of laser skin resurfacing have gotten the beauty world talking.
- Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that uses lasers to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and signs of hyper-pigmentation on top of tightening the skin.
- Laser skin resurfacing treatments are often recommended for patients with concerns about their skin texture or appearance, from acne scars to sun spots.
- Non-ablative laser treatments usually require not a lot of recovery downtime at all while ablative lasers can call for a 2 to 3-week healing process.
Not only is it typically less costly than other popular skin resurfacing procedures, but it is also less painful with a faster recovery time. As a proven way to help reduce wrinkles, age spots, and acne scars among other skin concerns, it’s no wonder why laser skin resurfacing treatment has become a go-to for those wanting to improve their skin texture and appearance. Before you schedule a consultation, though, here are the top things you need to know and consider about laser skin resurfacing.
What is Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that uses lasers to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and signs of hyper-pigmentation on top of tightening the skin (1). Overall, the laser skin resurfacing process can be performed with one of two lasers to target the complexion and skin texture:
These lasers remove the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and heat the underlayer (dermis) to stimulate the growth of new collagen fibers that improve elasticity (2). Ablative lasers evaporate the skin tissue, making the process more aggressive in contrast with the mild non-ablative lasers that leave the skin intact (3).
Procedures using ablative lasers usually require a longer recovery process ,as the lasers are known to create impressive results in often severe cases. Ablative lasers include carbon dioxide (CO2) or Erbium lasers. CO2 laser skin resurfacing treatments are used to get rid of scars, warts, and deep wrinkles, whereas Erbium lasers are used for finer lines and wrinkles (4).
Unlike the ablative laser, this is a non-wounding laser that stimulates collagen growth in a less invasive way that requires less recovery time. These lasers do not remove any skin layers but include pulsed light and fractional lasers that can be used for rosacea, spider veins, or acne scars (4). However, it is considered less effective than ablative laser procedures.
With the lasers, the dermatologist or physician performing the procedure will direct short, concentrated beams of light at the skin to remove the skin layer by layer to produce firm, smooth skin usually around the mouth, forehead, and/or eyes.
What Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Help?
Those who would be good candidates for laser skin resurfacing includes those who have:
- Acne scars
- Uneven skin tone
- Scars from injuries, skin conditions or illnesses like chickenpox
- Age spots
- Crow’s feet
- Sagging skin
- Enlarged oil glands
- Sun spots, or damaged skin from excess sun exposure
- Fine lines or wrinkles (5)
However, laser skin resurfacing candidacy will depend on a consultation with your physician, as you may not be a good candidate if you have active acne, deep wrinkles or excessive sagging of the skin which could be treated with over methods.
What Does Treatment Look Like? Everything You Need to Know from Cost to Care
A typical laser skin resurfacing treatment takes about 30 to 45 minutes for the physician to perform. Before the treatment, local anesthesia in combination with sedative medications or IV sedation is given to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the procedure. The area is cleansed to remove any excess oil and dirt, and then draped as the outermost layer of the skin is vaporized and tightened. Areas around the eyes, mouth, and/or forehead can be treated individually or a full-face of laser skin resurfacing can be performed. A full-face procedure can take up to 1 to 2 hours (6).
In most cases, only one treatment is needed. The initial redness fades in a few weeks and overall discoloration usually disappears in 1 to 2 months (6). However, in other cases, most non-ablative laser treatments call for a series of treatments to produce the most satisfying results for the patient. Non-ablative laser treatments usually require not a lot of recovery downtime at all while ablative lasers can call for a 2 to 3-week healing process (7).
After treatment, the area will need to be protected from the sun with glasses, lots of SPF, and hats as the skin will be particularly sensitive to sun rays for the first 1 to 2 weeks. This is why physicians typically recommend getting this procedure done during the fall or winter to help decrease sun exposure. Plus, you will need to clean the treated skin a few times a day with the instructed moisturizing products from your physician.
After the procedure, you may expect swelling in the treated areas, red and sensitive skin, itching or stinging, dry and peeling skin, and in some cases bumps or rash for a short period (4). Unfortunately, insurance usually does not cover the cost of laser skin resurfacing because it is considered a cosmetic procedure, so cost will vary on the types of lasers used during the procedure. Typically, laser skin resurfacing treatments using non-ablative lasers cost about $1,445 per session while ablative laser treatments cost about $2,509 per session according to 2020 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (5).
Written by Selena Ponton