The most common laser skin care procedure available today is hair removal. There are many other types of laser skin care treatments which can remove wrinkles, brown spots, blood vessels, and even tighten skin. Laser skin care treatments for skin rejuvenation or anti-aging are becoming one of the most common skin treatments in use today. The applications of this new light technology for laser skin care today are:
o Skin Exfoliation or Skin Peel – Lasers can be used to peel or exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin and smooth wrinkles and fine lines. Once the dead skin and surface of the wrinkles are removed, you see new shiny skin on the surface of your face. The skin can form new cells daily and deep skin peel is a very effective way to stimulate the production of new facial skin cells. These treatments also stimulate new collagen production in the deeper dermal layers of the skin. Benefits are:
Smooth Fresh Skin
These peels usually requires some down time for redness and healing. This is because the peel is an ablative procedure which means the dead skin cells and wrinkles are ablated or removed. More modern peel or resurfacing called fractional resurfacing is also effective and recovery time is 4-5 days, about a third of the recovery time required by traditional CO2 resurfacing done in the past. Common fractional ablative skin care machines are: Lux2940(TM), Fraxel Repair(TM), ActiveFX(TM) and ProFractional(TM) to name a few.
o Non-ablative Stimulation of New Collagen in The Deep Skin Layer, The Dermis – A major cause of wrinkles and acne scars is loss of collagen in the deep layer of the facial skin called the dermis. Sun damage kills the collagen in the dermis of the skin and when the collagen dies the skin loses volume, shrinks and loses elasticity. These changes result in wrinkles and sagging skin. This effect is not unlike what happens to a nice plump plum which is dried in the sun. After the plum loses its inner water volume, the skin wrinkles and you have a prune.
New Non-ablative Fractional Lasers can stimulate the production of new collagen deep in the dermis of the skin. Because the skin is not ablated or removed, there is no down time as with the ablative fractional machines mentioned earlier. Benefits of the non-ablative fractional skin care treatments are:
o Treatment of Pigment and Facial Skin Photo-damage – The aging effects of the sun, called photo damage or photo aging, are not only dry skin and wrinkles but also pigment, called brown spots, sun spots, age spots, and “liver spots”. Light technology is very effective for removing pigment and photo-damage. The peel or resurfacing strips away excess pigment. The non-ablative treatments are also effective at deeper pigment removal such as Melasma or mask of pregnancy.
Today Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), also called photo-facial is used most commonly for pigment removal. The IPL is excellent for removing brown spots and is the gentlest method.
o Skin Tightening – Laser skin tightening is possible but less effective than other skin tightening methods. Resurfacing or deep peeling does tighten skin a bit because deep dermal injury stimulates new collagen production in the skin. The new collagen is tighter and the tighter collagen tightens the skin. This effect takes months after the ablative peel skin care treatment and is not nearly as noticeable as a face lift.
Newer and more effective skin tightening treatments are possible. The more effective skin tightening treatments are done with Infrared or Radiofrequency energy with machines like LuxIR Deep(TM), Thermage(TM), Titan(TM), and Refirme(TM) to mention a few.
o Remove Broken Blood Vessels, Red Spots and Rosacea on the Face – Photo-aging and sun damage cause broken blood vessels on the facial skin, especially around the nose and cheeks. Lasers can be used to remove broken blood vessels on the face and legs. Both the 532 and 1064 Yag wavelengths are useful for removal of broken blood vessels.
However the newer IPL and Photo-facial treatments are very effective for removing blood vessels, produce less down time and are used more frequently today. The 1064 Yag is the choice for larger broken blood vessels and leg veins.
o Hair Removal – Hair removal is the most commonly performed medical skin care procedure done today. There are many different machines and IPL’s for hair removal. I prefer the diode called the Lightshear Diode(TM) for hair removal-I believe it is safer for darker skin types.
o Tattoo Removal -Tattoo removal was one of the first applications of this new light therapy for treating the skin. There are many different wavelengths for tattoo removal and the wavelength is chosen for the specific color of the tattoo to be removed. Tattoo removal takes many treatments over a long period of time, but is preferable to surgery which can leave scars.
The indications listed above are the most widely used applications for lasers in treatment of the skin. Each of these applications is best accomplished with a specific wavelength which is best and most appropriate for the skin condition to be treated.
Chose the Right Doctor
I strongly recommend that you seek consultation with two board certified doctors who specialize in laser treatments. Typically board certified dermatologists and plastic surgeons are the most experienced doctors with this new technology.
These new forms of light therapy can achieve remarkable benefits in skin care but the treatment is only as good as the doctor who is giving the treatment. In untrained or unskilled hands these new technologies can burn the skin, damage the eyes, and cause injury. I certainly do not recommend having these treatments in a Spa unless a board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon with experience and expertise is present.
Learn more about what these remarkable technological marvels can achieve on our skin.