If you love taking care of your skin and are always looking into skin modifying techniques, you would very well know the importance of laser treatments. Consulting a professional at any laser skin clinic would inform you that laser treatments aid in treating several skin conditions. Some of these issues include skin wrinkles, excessive hair, birthmarks, acne scars, etc.
Before we discuss how laser treatments benefit us, and the related side-effects, let us first investigate what laser treatments are and how they work.
What Are Laser Treatments?
A laser is an abbreviated version derived from Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Put in simpler terms; laser treatments are medical procedures that use focused light adjusted to particular wavelengths. This adjustment allows the light to turn into powerful beams. Laser beams are so high-intensity that they can be used to cut steel or give shape to diamonds.
The laser has allowed remedial procedures to be carried out with more precision and avoiding damage to the areas around the affected tissues. Even though laser treatments cost a fortune, they have several benefits, including lesser pain, scarring, etc. after the surgery.
Laser therapy is used to cure several diseases and conditions:
- Kidney stones;
- Poor vision;
- Detached retina;
- Hair loss;
- Skin issues such as wrinkles, acne, scars, etc.
What Are the Different Types of Laser Treatments?
From a broader perspective, a laser is used in several different procedures, such as LASIK eye surgery, teeth whitening, etc. However, we here are going to look through the different types of laser treatments that can aid in skin resurfacing and treatment of other skin conditions.
Cosmetic laser treatments are the newest fad. They provide instant results and are also not that painful. Even though expensive, laser treatments offer guaranteed results. This certainty of results is what causes people to opt for laser treatments.
Laser procedures break down into two categories: ablative and non-ablative lasers. All laser treatments fall into one of either type.
This laser procedure involves ejecting the skin with a penetrating wavelength of light. This removes the outer layer of the damaged area. Through this laser treatment, the skin underneath is activated, which aids in reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and stimulates collagen formation.
Once the laser resurfacing completes, the doctor will apply a topical cream to the skin. Due to the removal of the damaged skin, new skin develops, which is firmer and even-toned.
There are two types of ablative laser procedures: Carbon Dioxide Laser, and Erbium Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (Er: YAG).
Carbon Dioxide Laser:
The 1960s witnessed the introduction of Carbon Dioxide Laser treatment. It is one of the oldest techniques applied in laser therapies. Due to the massive side effects of this method, Fractional mode lasers replaced Carbon Dioxide treatments.
Fractional laser methods have little to no side effects. They also have a faster healing time since they work on the inner layer of the skin, the dermis. Non-fractional older techniques only work on the outer layer, which is the epidermis — carbon Dioxide treatments aid in skin procedures for conditions such as acne scars, warts, etc.
This method helps in skin resurfacing by working on the surface and moderately-deeper wrinkles and fine lines. It can cover issues on the face and other parts of the body. Erbium laser technique avoids damaging the tissues surrounding the affected areas. It also has a faster healing time and also has fewer side effects. It can treat pigmentation and sun damage.
- Non-Ablative Lasers:
Non-ablative skin techniques go beneath the skin, unlike ablative methods that only work on the top skin by heating and removing it. The non-ablative laser works on the deeper skin tissues to tackle your skin problems and give your skin a healthier, nourished look. It helps to eliminate fine lines and skin damage.
Pulsed Dye Laser:
The pulsed dye laser is a powerful treatment that focuses on specific blood vessels in the dermis, which are causing the skin condition. It touches the skin like a rubber band snaps. It eliminates the skin issues by shrinking the blood vessels and redirecting the blood through other veins. It works in over 3 to 5 sessions and is applicable for both the body and face. The healing process only takes a few hours after the process completes. The results of a pulsed dye laser are permanent.
It aids in resolving skin conditions such as birthmarks, stretch marks, broken capillaries, etc.
Nd: Yag Laser:
This laser technology uses a unique crystal known as Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnett. An emission of wavelengths of high energy light is used to target specific skin issues. The heat created destroys the contaminated cells. This method is used in hair removal, tattoo erasing, spider veins, skin pigmentation, etc. The benefits aside, however, this technique is known to have a lower success rate.
This laser method uses photo thermolysis to target and kills the damaged cells. As suggested by the name, photo thermolysis means using light to produce heat energy, which helps in the procedure. It is known to be very precise when using laser beams to destroy the impaired cells. This method causes minimum damage to the tissues surrounding the area. Alexandrite Laser can be used to treat sun damage, pigmentation, hair removal, tattoo removal, etc. The healing process does not take much time, and the subsequent redness and swelling also subside in a few days.
What Benefits Can Laser Resurfacing Have for Your Skin?
Laser resurfacing can assist you in countering numerous skin conditions. Laser skin resurfacing provides instant results as apposed to facials and other procedures. Laser treatments help in removing skin issues that are difficult to eliminate through the use of topical medicines and methods.
Following skin issues are treatable through the use of laser skin resurfacing:
- Uneven skin tone;
- Fine lines and wrinkles;
- Acne scars;
- Other scars;
- Age spots;
- Drooping skin;
- Crow’s feet.
Several factors affect your illegibility as an appropriate candidate to take up cosmetic laser surgeries. It is often an assumption that people with darker skin tones are not suitable for laser treatments because of the higher risk of developing hyperpigmentation.
However, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgeons (ABCS) has busted this myth. According to ABCS, it depends on the skills and expertise of the technician you choose to go for the surgery. It is the skin doctor’s job to judge which laser treatments would work better with darker tones. ABCs further says it is a misconception that laser treatments are a privilege enjoyed by the light-skinned.
Laser treatments are often not recommended to people with active acne breakouts and extremely droopy skin. One other recommendation offered by ABCS is to get laser treatments during the winter and spring season. The skin gets excessively sensitive to the sun’s UV rays after laser treatments; hence, it is imperative to avoid sun exposure. Making sure you get your treatment done in the winter season will aid in maintaining minimum exposure to the sun.
What Should You Expect When Going for A Laser Treatment?
Skin resurfacing treatment includes focusing on the outer layer of your skin while parallelly heating the inner layers. Working on the inner layer stimulates the production of collagen in your skin, which will result in smoother, firmer, and blemish-free skin.
The treatment is carried out in a few steps:
- The professional skin will prep your skin before starting the treatment. It may include a series of procedures carried out weeks before the actual surgery. The objective of this is to increase your skin’s tolerance level towards intense laser procedures. It also massively reduces your chances of producing side effects.
- The day your treatment is scheduled, the doctor would apply topical anaesthesia to the part of your skin getting the treatment. The anaesthesia will help reduce any pain caused by the procedure and will let you feel comfortable and relaxed. If the area under treatment is significantly large, painkillers or sedatives may be prescribed by the doctor.
- Subsequently, the doctor will clean your skin to wipe it of all dirt, excess oil, and debris.
- The procedure initiates using the appropriate laser chosen for the method. Slow movements are made with the laser to treat the damaged area.
- Once the procedure finishes, the doctor may apply other smoothing agents or dress the area up to protect it from any external damage.
After-Care and Side Effects:
After treatment, the healing process may take up to a few days depending on the procedure adopted. Generally, the healing process would take between 3 to 10 days. The more extensive the process, and the larger the area covered will increase the time taken for the side effects to settle.
Ablative laser treatments may take up more time for recovery. Redness and swellings are common reactions to laser treatments. Peeling is also one of the consequences of skin resurfacing treatments. Putting ice packs on the treated area can help relieve the redness and swelling.
During the healing process, you will have to take extra care of the treated area. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), you may need to clean the area three to five times each day. You will need to use saline or vinegar-based cleansers, and not your usual facial soaps. A moisturizer will also come in handy when taking care of your treated area after the laser procedure. However, the doctor should prescribe all the after-care products.
Your skin may be highly sensitive to the sun for up to one year after the laser procedure. Putting on sunscreen with SPF 30 or more will be necessary to prevent any permanent harm to your skin. If no sunscreen is applied, you might suffer from massive sunburns and sun damage.
The advancement of science and technology has provided great ease to people. Laser technology is one such development that gives individuals countless benefits. From skin resurfacing to internal surgeries such as removing kidney stones, laser treatments have improved the lives of many!