As the body’s largest organ, our skin is constantly under attack from both internal and external factors—whether it be from sun exposure, environmental pollutants or the natural ageing process.
Over time, this starts to take a major toll on our skin, and what was once clear, smooth and supple is now starting to look dull, dehydrated and less vibrant than before.
Thankfully, laser skin resurfacing is here to save the day—proving itself to be a safe, minimally-invasive and effective way to help regain our youthful, healthy glow.
From dealing with acne, scarring, pigmentation, fine line and wrinkles, vascular lesions to even tattoo and stretch mark removal—there are now lasers for almost every other skin condition you can possibly think of.
If you are completely new to the world of laser skin resurfacing and need help deciding if it is suitable for you, this article will hopefully shed some light on what you can expect.
Understanding laser skin resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing is essentially a technique that delivers light energy to specific tissues in our skin—specifically different chromophores such as melanin, water and oxyhemoglobin by absorbing different wavelengths—resulting in changes in our skin depending on your individual needs and goals.
The beauty of laser skin resurfacing also lies in the fact that it ramps up our collagen and elastin resources to help attain a more plump, luminous and healthy complexion.
Each type of laser has distinct features and differ based on their wavelength, pulse width, depth penetration and the rate at which the light beam is delivered.
In general, lasers are broken down into two categories: ablative and non-ablative lasers.
Ablative simply refers to any treatment that takes something away. In this case, ablative lasers remove the uppermost layer of the skin while delivering heat to the underlying dermis to trigger collagen growth. As the skin regenerates and heals itself, the treated areas are left smoother and more supple.
On the other hand, non-ablative lasers do NOT wound the epidermis but work to stimulate the growth of collagen in the dermis. These types of lasers tend to be less invasive than ablative lasers and thus are deemed safer, especially for those with darker skin types.
The biggest con of ablative lasers is that it tends to come with a longer downtime (anywhere from 1-2 weeks as compared to 3-5 days for non-ablative lasers). On the flip side, this also means they produce more dramatic results from just one treatment session!
Here are the most common types of lasers used you will find:
- Fractional lasers
Fractional lasers work by treating smaller areas of the skin at a time and breaking down the laser energy into thousands of tiny beams. This leads to injuries that are highly controlled and interspersed within areas of normal skin, helping to speed up wound healing and decreasing any side effects (e.g. hypopigmentation).
Fractional lasers are excellent for improving the overall texture of the skin and encouraging overall skin rejuvenation.
The fractional CO2 laser is what our doctors like to use as an and is considered to be the gold standard for skin resurfacing and rejuvenation, yielding excellent results without the long downtime and side effects associated with traditional ablative lasers.
- Erbium lasers
These lasers come in ablative or non-ablative forms and primarily work to promote collagen remodelling to treat everything from skin laxity and sunspots to fine lines and wrinkles.
As compared to the fractional CO2 laser, erbium lasers do not reach as deeply (due to their lower fluence) into the skin and hence generally require more treatment sessions. However, this also makes it a popular choice for those with only mild-to-moderate symptoms or for treating body parts including the neck, stomach and thighs.
- Pulsed-Dye lasers
Non-ablative lasers that heat the skin and specifically target pigments to fix redness, broken capillaries, rosacea and hyperpigmentation.
The Vbeam laser is a prime example that is considered to be the gold standard for treating vascular lesions. Using an intense but gentle burst of light that is used to target selected blood vessels without affected the surrounding tissues, its proprietary Dynamic Cooling Device™ helps to cool the skin before each laser pulse for maximum comfort while minimizing any unwanted side effects!
In fact, the Vbeam laser also can be utilized as an acne treatment that combats active acne as the light destroys the P.acnes bacteria.
Technically not considered a laser but often misunderstood as one, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) can also be used to treat conditions such as acne, rosacea, sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
The key difference is that instead of using heat to trigger collagen and elastin production below the skin, IPL uses a broad spectrum of light wavelengths to restore your complexion. A downside to this treatment is that patients with darker skin tones or those prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) may be at risk of greater side effects.
- Combined systems
All thanks to the advancements in technology, there are also now combined systems that you can find such as the Fraxel Dual (a combination of 1927nm and 1550nm wavelengths) that can be employed to treat different conditions at the same time.
With two treatment modes available—one to target things like wrinkles and acne scarring, and the other to combat uneven skin tone and pigmentation, the Fraxel Dual is a great choice for patients who want to get the best of both ablative and non-ablative lasers.
- Radiofrequency Microneedling
There are certain instances that require other energy modalities such as radiofrequency microneedling that works to reach deeper into the dermis with the aid of tiny needles.
Because it does not utilize heat and harm the surrounding healthy tissues, it is also a safer treatment for all skin types across all age groups. Available at our clinic, both SECRET RF and INFINI RF uses unique, patented microneedles to treat stubborn, depressed acne scars that fractional lasers alone are not able to treat.
Are you ready to transform your skin?
While our skin is naturally amazing at healing itself when it comes to wounds and getting rid of dead skin cells, there may be times when we need to call in external help —especially as we get older and our skin’s capacity for renewal starts to diminish drastically.
The beauty of laser skin resurfacing is that it stimulates and enhances the body’s natural healing process for new and healthy tissues.
Do note that laser skin resurfacing also comes with the risk of side effects like infection and scarring that can lead to undesirable outcomes; however, all this can be minimized by working with a doctor who is adept and comfortable with working with a range of lasers.
At our aesthetic clinic, our doctors are highly trained to work with a plethora of laser technologies and can combine them to produce amazing, transformational results for our patients including the most complex cases. With more than 20 years of experience in aesthetic medicine, our doctors offer bespoke, personalized treatments that prioritize your safety and satisfaction.
Whether you are looking for a permanent cure for acne, hair transplant, or the best stretch mark removal treatment, our doctors are confident that we can find the right solution for you and will be more than happy to assist you in your journey—contact us to learn more and book your consultation today!