Fractional laser skin resurfacing is one of the most revolutionary procedures that has been invented in recent years. There have been many skin treatments developed over the years with various lasers. However, Fraxel or fractional laser resurfacing has been a major breakthrough in dermatology and plastic surgery.
Types of Fractional Lasers
There are two types of fractional laser resurfacing – ablative, which typically is a carbon dioxide laser, and non ablative. Both ablative be ablative and non ablative fractional lasers can be used to treat an array of skin conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, surgical scars, acne scars and sun damage with little downtime. Fractional laser treatment is unique as the laser treats the desired area by administering multiple pinpricks of microbeams of laser light energy to the skin. The light is converted into tiny beams which cause microinjury to the skin which stimulates the healing process resulting in rejuvenated skin and new collagen. In addition, the laser light energy penetrates deep within the dermis to stimulate collagen production over time which results in significant improvement to the skin texture, skin tone and elasticity.
Many patients today are trying to avoid cosmetic surgery or facial plastic surgery. The American Society for Plastic Surgery documents the numbers of cosmetic procedures annually. While facelifts are still popular, the number of minimally invasive cosmetic procedures such as factional laser resurfacing continues to climb. A facelift is a surgical approach to skin rejuvenation which surgically corrects sagging skin by removing excess tissue and fat, therefore proving a lift to sagging skin and facial muscles. Minimally invasive cosmetic procedures such as fractional lasers, Botox, Juvederm injections, and Thermage FLX, can tighten and rejuvenate the skin, without a single incision or any downtime. With little to no recovery time, these cosmetic procedures are gaining in popularity each year.
Before & After: Female Fraxel patient
What is Fractional Laser Resurfacing used for?
Fractional laser resurfacing is used for three main purposes. Some patients want to correct superficial facial lines and wrinkles and have an overall skin rejuvenation. Others are more concerned with sun damage, sun spots, age spots, brown spots, hyperpigmentation, and overall facial pigmentation and discoloration. While a facelift can tighten the skin and jowls, it cannot treat the skin itself, the pigmentation, fine lines, or overall sun damage. That is the benefit of the fractional laser resurfacing as it can rejuvenate your skin with little recovery time. Many patients utilize Fractional laser for treating acne scars. Typically a combination of injectable hyaluronic acid fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm or Sculptra are needed to replace the lost collagen combined with the laser procedure. Three to five fractional laser resurfacing treatments are typically needed with these deeper acne scar patients.
Ablative Fractional laser resurfacing treatment uses high-energy pulses of erbium laser or CO2 laser resurfacing energy to remove the outer layer of sun damaged, and wrinkled skin. The damaged skin cells are replaced with new, younger looking skin. The laser energy is absorbed by the water and pigment in the skin which then converts to heat. The heat targets and destroys old skin cells, as the skin heals new collagen is formed. There is typically two weeks of down time involved in this type of laser treatment. Proper skin care, skin care products, sunscreen and avoiding unnecessary sun exposure are all necessary to maintain the results from the laser procedure. It is critical to use an SPF of 30 or higher after the procedure and avoid a sunburn at all cost.
Stimulate new collagen with Fraxel
In addition to removing older skin cells, fractional laser resurfacing stimulates the production of new collagen. Collagen, is the protein within the skin that gives the skin its firmness and youthful appearance. Fractional laser resurfacing creates just enough stress on the skin to encourage collagen production without any recovery time. The laser is precise which makes it popular amongst dermatologist and plastic surgeons for skin rejuvenation. During the procedure, the treatment area is fractionated by the laser energy treating tiny areas of skin at a time, this facilitates the healing process with very little side effects.
Before the Fraxel laser procedures, a topical anesthetic will be applied to the full face or treatment area, for one hour. The skin is cleaned and eyes covered to protect them from the laser beam. It is important that a through medical history is taken before the procedure and review any skin concerns. If a patient is still experiencing acne breakouts, they must be under control first with antibiotics before the Fraxel laser can be performed. It is necessary to have discontinued Isotretinoin use for one year before having the non ablative laser performed. Pre-treatment with Valtrex is needed if there is a history of cold sores. As the laser handpiece glides over your skin, the laser will discharge hundreds of tiny pulses that will feel like rubber bands snapping against your skin. The Fraxel laser is equipped with a Zimmer which is a cooling mechanism that works in concert with the laser. Cold air will blow on the treated area to help minimize any discomfort. The actual treatment will take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the size and location of the treatment area. When you are finished with the procedure, you will appear as if you have a sunburn for two days followed by fine peeling like sandpaper of the skin to reveal fresh new skin.
Is Laser Skin Resurfacing Right for You?
Laser skin resurfacing is not recommended for treating wrinkles that are caused by muscle movement, such as crow’s feet. BOTOX® injections is a better treatment option. Darker skin types are not the ideal candidate for fractional laser resurfacing treatment.
Find out more about Fraxel, known as the “Magic Eraser” and the gold standard treatment skin resurfacing treatment for improving skin tone and texture by calling Dr. Michele Green at 212-535-3088 or contact us online.