Laser and Other Light-based Treatments
Laser resurfacing removes the outer layers of the skin by heat, usually with a CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser. A milder laser resurfacing is obtained with the Erbium laser.
Fractional laser treats the deeper layers of the skin, to stimulate collagen. It improves lines and elasticity, while minimizing recovery and the risk of color changes. Sometimes it is combined with intense pulsed light (IPL) or a very shallow resurfacing or peel to treat color irregularities.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a very powerful pulse of light, tuned to be absorbed by brown pigment or blood vessels. It is very useful for treating brown and red discolorations. At higher power, it will also give a light peel.
Who is it for?
Fine wrinkles are usually best treated by stimulating the deeper layers of the skin with energy. (A facelift is needed for the deeper wrinkles and sagging of the skin that occur with aging.) Sometimes both procedures are needed, then I do the skin treatment six weeks to six months after the face lift surgery.
Fair skinned people with sun damage are the commonest candidates for IPL. Darker skinned people may also benefit when skin damage has resulted in uneven pigmentation.
Fractional laser can be used on the neck with only a low risk of scarring. The CO2 laser carries a higher risk of scarring if used on the neck, and scarring can also be a problem with the Erbium laser used for resurfacing.
What to expect
Fractional laser is becoming less popular because there is a significant recovery compared to RF microneedling. The results of a single treatment are approximately equivalent to 3 RF treatments, so it is still appropriate when combined with other treatments with a recovery period. I usually use either a combination of local anesthetic gel and local anesthesia nerve blocks or general anesthesia for fractional laser. It creates a fine pattern of dots on the skin. Sometimes there is a little bleeding from these dots in the first few hours after treatment. After that a little clear fluid oozes from the dots for 2 or 3 days, and the skin is pink. At 7 to 10 days, most patients can resume makeup and normal activity.
Remaining pinkness is usually gone in another week, but can be concealed with makeup until then. Because the fractional laser stimulates collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin, it typically takes 6 to 8 weeks to see maximum correction.
CO2 Laser resurfacing requires general anesthesia or local anesthesia (injections to freeze the skin) with sedation. It is generally an out patient procedure. The skin is removed down to a raw surface, and heals over 7 to 10 days.
Generally there is some redness for two to six months. Generally the CO2 laser gives more correction than the T.C.A. peel in return for the longer recovery period. I rarely use the Erbium laser, since the correction is very equivalent to a T.C.A. peel, but because of the cost of the laser, the patient cost is higher.
If you are considering laser Orange County, please click here to contact Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Bailey, for a consultation.
Before and After Pictures
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