This is the resurfacing technique to improve wrinkles, discolorations and acne scars of the face. Resurfacing techniques involve ablation of the epidermis, the superficial layer of the skin, and a variable depth of ablation of the dermis, the structural supportive layer of the skin. Following this ablation, re-healing of the skin from deep epithelial elements occurs and skin is fresher with diminished wrinkles or scar irregularities.
Laser resurfacing is used primarily for facial scar improvement (especially post acne scar treatment) and for facial aesthetic enhancement to tighten skin and soften wrinkles.
There are three ways to achieve effective skin ablation for resurfacing. These are
a) Chemical peeling, whereby an acid is used to burn into the skin layers: this is effective but messy and lacks control.
b) Dermabrasion whereby a physical abrasion with a burr denudes the skin: again this is messy and not that controlled – but when done effectively works well
c) Laser ablation whereby a high powered focused beam of light ablates skin layers into the dermis : because the light beam seals blood vessels, this is a relatively clean and neat procedure. Also, because te amount of energy delivered to the skin can be carefully controlled, this is a relatively precise technique with accurate control of the depth of ablation achieved.
Laser Resurfacing is now preferred to dermabrasion and chemical peel or can be used in conjunction with other facial rejuvenation procedures.
The effectiveness of laser resurfacing depends on the level of ablation into the dermis. A deep resurfacing into the mid dermis will give the most effective result. This depth of burn is associated with a raw skin (like sunburn) healing phase of 7 to 10 days and a subsequent period of skin redness for a further 3 to 4 weeks. Commonly used lasers that can readily achieve the depth of burn to achieve adequate results include the carbon dioxide (Co2) and erbium lasers. A laser resurfacing NOT achieving such adequate depth – and therefor having little downtime for healing, such as FRAXYL or fractional lasers or photoderms (which are not lasers at all), will not give effective resurfacing results.
The laser has greater advantages over the older methods in accuracy and precision. The laser allows the skin to be vaporised in a controlled method layer by layer.