What is laser resurfacing?
Human skin is composed of: the epidermis (the outermost layer which is in contact with the environment) and the dermis (the layer exactly underneath). During laser resurfacing, a laser beam vaporizes the epidermis and a part of the dermis, restructuring, at the same time, collagen fibers found deeper in the skin. The carbon dioxide laser is the most commonly used laser for this procedure. There are, of course, many available laser devices used for skin resurfacing, but the carbon dioxide laser is the most effective. There is no hemorrhaging or damage to the surrounding tissue involved. A physician using a carbon dioxide laser beam can determine, with high precision, the exact depth of the vaporization to obtain the desired results. Other resurfacing procedures (chemical peeling, mechanical abrasion etc.) do not allow for such precision.
During the first days after the treatment, we see the regeneration of the epidermis and the beginning of the production of new natural collagen in the dermis. The result is the formation of a new, youthful, healthy epidermis without imperfections. At the same time, the structural change of the already existing collagen fibers and the creation of new collagen fibers make a great difference in skin laxity, i.e. we see the skin tightening.
Who are the best candidates for laser skin resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is suitable for people who need to treat:
- Fine and medium depth wrinkles (e.g. smoker’s wrinkles on the upper lips)
- Brown spots (freckles)
- Skin discoloration
- Photodamaged skin due to prolonged exposure to sun.
- Smallpox or acne scars
- Mild skin laxity
What should you tell to your physician?
A physician always discusses thoroughly a patient’s medical record.
However, particular information is crucial for the laser skin resurfacing treatment. For example, if you have allergies, if your skin heals poorly, if you have herpes, if you are a smoker, if you take any medication, if you are frequently exposed to the sun etc.
Where will the treatment take place? How is it performed? How long does it last?
Laser skin resurfacing treatments are performed in a hospital. The procedure cannot take place without any form of anesthesia. A local anesthetic could be applied, or the patient could undergo general anesthesia to avoid any discomfort whatsoever. The decision is taken according to the extent and the exact position of the treated area plus the depth of the laser penetration.
The duration of the treatment depends on the extent of the treated area. It could last from a few minutes to an hour. After a laser skin resurfacing treatment there is no need for hospitalization, and you can return home.
What happens next? How will I look?
In the end of the treatment, a special cream is applied on the treated areas and is then fully covered by a clear membrane (like the one we use to wrap food with). Although the skin will have a peculiar look for a few days after laser resurfacing, it is impressive that there is no pain at all. There is discomfort but not pain in the initial post-treatment period. By the 5th or 7th day the membrane is removed and the already formed epidermis appears.
The skin will be red and the epidermis will be thin and sensitive, free of wrinkles or irregularities. The rash will be long lasting, intense for the first two or three weeks, fading gradually for the next 1-2 months until it disappears. In any case, makeup will take care of it.
One can return to his/her everyday activities after 7-10 days
What should I do after treatment?
The skin is very sensitive during the healing process and it needs constant care. The daily application of liberal amounts of moisturizer and a sunscreen with high SPF are imperative.
And the results?
A laser resurfacing treatment has immediate results, but the look of your skin continues improving for the next 6-12 months.
One session can improve acne scars by at least 60%. It should be noted that a laser resurfacing treatment is the best option if one seeks a permanent and dynamic solution to the problem of acne scars.
In general, laser resurfacing removes almost all the fine wrinkles and skin irregularities for several years. In any case, the treatment can be repeated
There is always the risk of complications in laser skin resurfacing, as in every medical procedure. Possible complications are hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. If happening, they appear 3-4 weeks after treatment and can last up to 2-3 months. There is a bigger possibility for these complications in dark skinned individuals so we avoid the use of laser skin resurfacing treatments on individuals with very dark skin. Another possible complication is scar formation. A well trained physician will avoid the possibilitiy of such complications offering spectacular results.
Can I do something about skin laxity too?
We can achieve stunning results by performing a laser resurfacing treatment in combination with blepharoplasty or a facelift
Although laser resurfacing is a procedure that needs close physician-patient cooperation and has a long and demanding recovery period, it ends in spectacular results that no other treatment can offer.