The Ultimate Guide to Laser Skin Resurfacing
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The Ultimate Guide to Laser Skin Resurfacing

Are you tired of using concealers and photo filters just to achieve confidence with your skin? Laser skin resurfacing could be the solution you need. A multitude of dermatologists and satisfied patients swear by this method for combating aging and banishing skin flaws like acne scars and wrinkles. Laser skin resurfacing has been making waves in the realm of dermatology for well over 40 years. It has replaced other brutal methods, delivering better results with less “ouch” and shorter recovery times.

Woman getting laser skin resurfacing

Ready to experience the miracles of laser skin resurfacing? This comprehensive guide will tell you all you need to know:

Who Benefits From Laser Skin Resurfacing?

There are plenty of lasers that specialize in treating different skin problems. First thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you suffer from any of the following skin problems:

  • Uneven skin tone and texture
  • Wrinkles
  • Age spots (or solar lentigo)
  • Depressed (or hypertrophic) scars
  • Dark (or hyperpigmented) scars

Do not be disheartened if you suffer from more than one skin problem on this list. The good news is one laser may have a special combo of benefits. You’re most likely going to be able to hit two birds (or more) with one stone. But then that begs the question, which laser do you go with?

Dermatologist performing laser skin resurfacing

Types of Lasers and What They Can Do for You

There have been a plethora of new lasers coming out in the market. If you’re new to all this, it may leave you dazed and confused about which one to choose. So this section covers the most promising and safest lasers in the dermatological world and how each one can benefit the appearance of your skin.

But first things first, here are a few laser terms you need to know:

  • Ablative – this type of laser wounds the epidermis, the external layer of the skin, while also delivering heat to the underlying dermis. This combined approach stimulates the growth of new collagen. As the epidermis regenerates, the treated areas will be smoother and more supple. This procedure is more invasive than its non-ablative counterparts and would thus require more recovery time. The plus side is it can give more dramatic results.
  • Non-ablative – This type of laser does NOT wound the epidermis but still stimulates the growth of collagen in the dermis. These types of lasers are non-invasive and would thus need less recovery time than their ablative counterparts. These types of lasers are deemed safer for all skin types but will also take time to show results.
  • Fractionated / fractional laser – This type of laser, which is the opposite of non-fractionated allows for microscopic columns of skin to be left untreated. This allows for a shorter recovery time while still delivering great results.

Top three lasers to consider:

  • IPLIPL or Intense Pulsed Light is great for diminishing pigmentations on the skin to even out the skin tone. So if your main aim is to solve skin problems like sun discoloration, age spots, and dark (hyperpigmented) scars, the IPL laser will do wonders for your skin. This non-ablative laser can be used on various parts of the body such as the face, arms, legs, and more.
  • Fractional Laser – Fractional laser specializes in improving the texture of the skin so it’s great for skin problems such as depressed (or hypertrophic) acne scars, fine lines and wrinkles. Using selective photothermolysis, this type of laser can treat scars and pigmentation without harming the surrounding skin.
  • Clear + Brilliant Clear + Brilliant is a type of non-ablative laser that is gentler and safe for all skin types. This mild procedure leaves you with no downtime and results can be seen after only a few sessions. If you suffer from skin problems such as fine lines, mild scarring, shallow wrinkles, and sunspots, this laser could be for you. Another bonus is that this treatment increases skin permeability, allowing skincare products to work their magic on deeper layers of the skin.

A few honourable-mentions:

  • Picosure – This mild non-ablative laser is great for pigmentation problems (sunspots, age spots, etc.), acne scars, and wrinkles. This treatment is pain-free and doesn’t need any downtime.
  • Erbium YAG Laser – This ablative laser treatment is great for treating fine wrinkles, pigmentation problems (sunspots, age spots, etc.) and acne scars. Being under the ablative class of lasers, patients can expect a degree of pain with this treatment but with dramatic results even after just the first session.

What Is the Procedure Like?

As promising as the benefits may be, is the procedure worth it? Well with the right set of expectations, laser skin resurfacing is actually a piece of cake.

For the procedure, you will first need to have your face washed, removing any makeup and outside pollutants. Some clinics will then use a mild antiseptic on your skin to make sure that it is free from potential irritants. Next, you can expect to have some nice cold numbing cream smeared on the area to be treated. This step may be skipped for lasers that don’t cause significant pain such as Clear + Bright and Picosure. Some clinics will put plastic wrap over the cream to make sure that the cream is not dislodged during the next (and only) boring bit: the waiting

You will be waiting for at least 30 to 45 minutes for the numbing cream to take effect. Most likely, you will be lying comfortably on the clinic’s bed. Your smartphone, a good book, or having a friend/family with you might help make time go faster so be sure to come prepared!

Then, the fun part! The dermatologist will proceed with the laser treatment. For all laser treatments, you will be given an opaque eye protection device (usually black or silver goggles) before the laser is applied. The treatment can be on specific parts or on an entire stretch of skin, depending on your needs. After this, you will be given a few aftercare instructions. But guess what? In the next section, we will give you some spoilers for that!

Caring for Your Skin After Laser Skin Resurfacing

The benefits you get from your laser skin treatment and the magnitude of said benefits rely on how well you follow your aftercare instructions. Dermatologists may add more to this but you can expect to be told these four main things:

  • Avoid sun exposure – avoiding sunlight and using sunblock (usually at least SPF50) prevents pigmentation.
  • Avoid harsh cosmetics – harsh cosmetics can get in the way of the body’s natural healing processes so make sure to steer clear of them.
  • Keep hair away and avoid touching – this prevents the treated area from getting infected.
  • Moisturize – applying mild moisturizers will not only help speed up the healing process but will also help the skin reach its full healing potential.

Woman receiving laser skin resurfacing on her neck

What Do I Look for in a Good Clinic?

It is important to look for a reputable clinic for your laser skin resurfacing journey. This way, you can minimize side effects and enjoy the wonderful benefits of this life-changing procedure. So what are the telltale signs that you are in good hands?

The dermatologist/s should do the actual procedure – in a skin clinic, you will most likely only find two kinds of professionals: dermatologists and aestheticians. It’s important to know who is who. Though aestheticians are trained, they are usually only trained to use only the lower settings on a laser device. But then if you’re laying down and not seeing the screen on the laser machine, how would you be able to tell? This is why it’s advisable to only go to clinics that have certified dermatologists doing this important procedure.

The dermatologist/s should be experienced and certified. Like all doctors, dermatologists need to display their certification somewhere visible inside the clinic. On top of this, make sure to also do some research on the dermatologist you will get before proceeding with laser skin resurfacing.
A clean, well-lit environment is a must. This may be a no brainer but it’s vital nonetheless. A clean environment ensures that your skin is safe from any possible infections. And the well-lit ambience ensures that the dermatologist can properly assess your skin and spot the blemishes that need treatment.

They should follow the bare minimum of how the procedure should go. We’ve spoken about this in an earlier section. Though some clinics may deviate just a bit, the procedure we’ve described here is standard.

A skin assessment or consultation should be done before the procedure. Some side effects are more common in certain skin types and the dermatologist will be able to tell you all about it. Moreover, this gives you the chance to check that the laser the clinic is offering is really what you want and need.

June 4, 2020
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