Plastic surgery is constantly evolving, with new techniques being developed and advanced technological tools making even traditional procedures safer and more effective. Among the most useful of these technological innovations is a process called laser skin resurfacing, which uses high intensity light energy to smoothly remove dead and damaged cells from the skin’s surface. Laser skin resurfacing technology is extremely versatile, and although its use is not as widespread as that of the more traditional chemical peels, the number of laser resurfacing procedures performed in the U.S. has more than tripled since 2000, a rate of growth matched only by a handful of minimally-invasive cosmetic treatments. However, despite its rapidly increasing popularity, many patients have questions about how this revolutionary process works and exactly what this remarkable tool can accomplish. Here are answers to some of the most common questions that I am asked about laser skin resurfacing.
One of the most valuable aspects of the laser resurfacing technology is its versatility. The skin is a complicated organ, composed of multiple, specialized layers, and lasers of different strengths and frequencies can be used to selectively target the different layers of the skin. Some lasers, like the advanced Sciton® Erbium laser that we use in my practice, work like a chemical peel, instantly vaporizing dead and damaged cells on the skin’s surface to reduce the appearance of pigment irregularities, acne scarring, and general wrinkling or to remove highly localized blemishes like sun damage, keratosis, and surgical scars. Other, non-ablative, lasers can pass harmlessly through the skin’s outer layers to gently stimulate the deeper tissue’s natural healing and collagen production capabilities. This can help alleviate skin sagging, or ptosis, and give the face a more youthful and revitalized look.
What is a good age to start thinking about laser skin resurfacing?
Because laser resurfacing can address so many different skin conditions, it is potentially suitable for use on men and women of all ages. Depending on the specific laser used, this technology can help alleviate acne scarring in teenaged patients or minimize the appearance of long term sun damage and general facial wrinkles in middle aged to elderly patients. Laser treatment is even utilized in the removal of certain forms of infant birth marks. The different Sciton® lasers can be precisely calibrated to each patient’s specific skin type, so the procedure can be customized to accommodate a wide range of skin thicknesses and complexions. However, it is important to note that skin resurfacing with a Sciton® Erbium laser can be quite invasive, and so I prefer to perform the procedure in an operating room rather than in an office in order to maximize my patients’ safety and comfort.
How much downtime is required after a laser skin resurfacing procedure?
Every patient is unique and skin can react to laser skin resurfacing in a wide variety of ways. However, in most cases with the Sciton® laser, patients will feel as though they have experienced mild sunburn, with tenderness, redness, and swelling persisting for a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the specific type of treatment. Within five days to two weeks after resurfacing, the skin will become dry and start to peel. While patients can return to work immediately, it is important to keep the skin clean, well moisturized, and protected from ultraviolet light while it is healing. I often perform laser skin resurfacing as part of a larger cosmetic plastic surgery procedure, like eyelid surgery or a full facelift, to create an even skin tone and minimize the appearance of post-surgical scars, and so recovery from both procedures occurs simultaneously.
If you are interested in learning more about how any of the facial plastic surgery procedures that I perform may be able to help you, please contact me, Dr. Fernando Burstein. Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. provides a variety of options for financing, including Care Credit®, in order to assist you. Don’t forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest facial plastic surgery news.