Zap Away Imperfections

The Facts About Laser Therapy

Laser Resurfacing. Getty Images

Laser resurfacing is a procedure that can treat a variety of skin flaws both age-related and not, such as: wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, stretch marks, face blemishes, scars, hyper-pigmentation and sun damage. Considered a major breakthrough in cosmetic medicine, laser therapy is a safe, quick and effective solution to a wide variety of issues.

Laser resurfacing involves an intense light beam, which treats the damaged surface skin.

The beam is focused on the target area to vaporize skin issues. Types of lasers are broken into two main categories: ablative and nonablative.

An ablative (wounding) laser removes thin layers of skin, while a nonablative (non-wounding) laser tightens underlying skin and stimulates collagen growth. As you would assume, non-ablative lasers aren’t as invasive as ablative lasers are, and in turn require less recovery time. Since ablative lasers actually remove the top layer of your skin, your skin surface will appear red after the procedure, and will require some time to recover.  All of these lasers are commonly used in combination with pulsing techniques, cooling sprays or combination laser frequencies.

Ablative laser resurfacing, which takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, is generally performed as an outpatient procedure at your doctor’s office. Prior to being numbed with an anesthetic, your eyes are covered and your face is cleaned.

 If extensive resurfacing is required, sedation may be used. An intense beam of light destroys the outer layer of tissue and heats the underlying skin, which causes the collagen fibers to shrink. After ablative resurfacing, the area where the skin was treated will undoubtedly be swollen, raw and itchy.

A yellowish liquid may ooze and crust out of the treated area, which should NOT be picked to avoid scarring. Pain can be managed with over the counter painkillers and ointments, and the area may require dressing. On the bright side, as the wound heals, new, smoother, tighter skin forms within one to two weeks.

No skin is removed during nonablative laser resurfacing. The laser solely stimulates collagen growth, tightening the skin and improving the skin’s appearance and its tone. Depending on the extent of the area being treated, nonablative resurfacing can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. Afterwards, your skin will appear red and swollen, but you can go about your normal activities and use cosmetics to cover the treatment area.

If you are interested in learning more about laser skin resurfacing, set up an appointment with a qualified and experienced doctor to discuss the pros and cons, and whether or not this procedure is right for you. 

Continue Reading