Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure in which lasers are used to create a smooth skin appearance. The laser functions to remove the outer layers of skin damaged by age, sun, acne, wrinkles, or issues with pigmentation or spots to allow a new layer of skin to regenerate.
Whether you live in Cape Cod or Cape Canaveral, your skin has sun damage, along with wrinkles, lines, acne scars, and areas of hyperpigmentation. Laser skin resurfacing at Boston Plastic Surgery offers two levels of resurfacing that work with different degrees of aggressiveness to target various issues with skin damage and the signs of aging.
What is laser skin resurfacing?
At Dr. Lin’s we use different laser wavelengths for our laser skin resurfacing. These lasers deliver laser energy that reduces facial wrinkles, skin aging, sun-damaged skin, and skin irregularities such as acne scarring or blemishes. Laser technology is continually evolving, making our laser resurfacing treatments at Boston Plastic Surgery more effective, even for delicate areas.
Laser skin resurfacing engages the skin’s natural healing mechanisms to rejuvenate the skin both on the surface epidermis layer and in the skin’s second layer, the dermis.
On the surface skin, YAG laser energy is absorbed by sun-damaged areas such as age spots and the laser energy breaks apart the melanin. The darker areas then slough off in a few days. Laser energy can also close broken capillaries and lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
In the dermis, CO2 fractional laser energy creates thousands of microscopic holes through the epidermis down into the dermis. That’s where the “fractional” term comes from because only a fraction of the skin is impacted by the laser energy. When laser energy enters the dermis, this triggers a wound response in the body, which remodels the existing collagen in the area and initiates new collagen production. All of this improves the skin over the following weeks and months.
Reasons For Considering Laser Skin Resurfacing
- Remove facial wrinkles, creases, and lines
- Treat sun-damaged skin
- Address issues with pigmentation and spots
- Treat scars from acne, birthmarks, moles, and tattoos
- Tighten skin that has lost elasticity
Who is a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing?
If you have age spots and sun-damaged skin, fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, or shallow acne scarring these could be good treatments for you.
While laser skin resurfacing is best for patients with light to moderate skin tones, due to the possibility of hyperpigmentation on darker skin tones, our gentler, less aggressive options can work for everyone.
These treatments cannot correct deep wrinkles and excessive sagging skin. There are two degrees in these procedures, using CO2 laser energy for fractional resurfacing and Erbium YAG laser energy for more superficial treatments addressing mainly pigmentation problems.
What are the benefits of laser skin resurfacing?
What’s the benefit of having healthier, younger-looking skin? Laser skin resurfacing at Boston Plastic Surgery does that on the two levels described above. Whether your issues are age spots and sun damage on the epidermis, or lines and texture issues that need to be rebuilt from collagen in the dermis, these are great treatments.
Plus, the laser energy used simply triggers the body to heal itself. Whether the laser is breaking up melanin in age spots or heating the dermis, the reaction in the body is a completely natural process.
What problems can laser skin resurface address?
The more aggressive CO2 fractional resurfacing triggers a full healing response in the body. This improves:
- Moderate lines and wrinkles
- Acne scarring
- Skin texture problems
- Skin tone
- Skin thickness
- Pigmented lesions
The Erbium YAG laser treats superficial issues with the skin. This improves:
- Shallow lines and wrinkles
- Age spots
- Port wine spots
- Areas of hyperpigmentation
- Skin texture
The Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedure
To prepare the face for the laser procedure, it is first cleansed with oils and an antibiotic is applied. The laser is then used to remove the various layers of the skin until the appropriate depth of skin is reached. This procedure is done under local anesthesia, with or without sedation.
Laser Skin Resurfacing Recovery Process
There will be some recovery if you have fractional CO2 laser resurfacing, as this is more aggressive than Erbium YAG resurfacing, which doesn’t really have a recovery period.
Obviously, different patients can have different recovery needs. This is a general timeframe of what you can expect after fractional laser skin resurfacing:
- Day 1 — You will leave our Francis Street offices and your skin will appear as if moderately sunburned and it will feel tight.
- Day 2 — Your skin will now appear bronzed and darker.
- Day 3-4 — Your skin will begin to peel, and areas may itch.
- Day 5 — Peeling should begin to end.
- Day 7-8 — Your redness should fully resolve.
With Erbium treatments for age spots and the like, your skin may be a little red for days afterward. You may have some dryness and mild flaking for a few days. These treatments target surface pigmentation issues and aren’t ablative. Applying a good moisturizing lotion is all you’ll need to do.
How should I care for my skin after laser skin resurfacing?
Because we offer a variety of levels of treatment in our laser skin resurfacing treatments, and because each of our patients has unique skin issues, there is some variation here. These are some general guidelines for skin care following these treatments:
- Stay out of the sun — These treatments make your skin very sensitive to sun damage. That’s because they break down some of the skin’s outer protection. So, you need to stay out of the sun, if possible. That’s why the more aggressive options can be good for a dark Northeast winter. Regardless, be sure to protect your skin with 30+ SPF.
- Be gentle with cleaning — When you’re first cleaning your skin after these treatments, take it easy. Harsh cleansers with things like glycolic acid need to wait a few days. And no scrubbing. Let your skin recover.
- Reduce swelling — More aggressive fractional resurfacing can cause some swelling. Cold compresses help with this. Plus, they feel soothing.
- Moisturize that healing skin — We’ll talk with you about the right moisturizer to match the treatment you just had. This isn’t a sales pitch; different products have different characteristics that your skin will need. Apply them as we recommend and keep your healing skin happy.
- Skip the exfoliators — There are lots of products out with retinol, and they are often great…just not right after laser skin resurfacing. No exfoliation (that’s what just happened with your treatment) and other harsh products for a couple of weeks.
- Maybe for makeup — Superficial treatments that target age spots and the like are OK for makeup afterward. However, after more aggressive treatments applying makeup can irritate your healing skin. Again, we will discuss whether or not makeup can be used as your skin heals and improves.
Is anesthesia used during laser skin resurfacing?
Local anesthesia with or without sedation.
Is laser skin resurfacing painful?
Topical numbing cream may be applied prior to laser resurfacing. This keeps you comfortable. Superficial treatments don’t require numbing. Plus, our laser handpieces feature built-in cooling. These work together to ensure these are not painful treatments.