Lasers offer a great way of dealing with skin issues and signs of skin-aging. They are especially considered ideal for those individuals who are almost left with just cosmetic surgery as remedy to their skin issues. These devices have indeed proven helpful to many people. There are different types out there suitable to different people and issues. We discuss some of these diverse types here to help you figure out which is best. You should be able to determine after reading this people whether laser skin treatment is something that could work for you.
What is laser?
Laser (or LASER) is an abbreviation of Light amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers produce an intense jet of pulsed bright light, or heat, which goes into the skin to work on different issues that may be afflicting it. They gradually melt away the molecular bonds of damaged skin cells for smoother, younger-looking skin. The procedure involving use of lasers for eliminating skin defects is usually called cosmetic laser skin resurfacing or laser skin rejuvenation. It is believed to be a highly effective means of eliminating skin imperfections.
People battling with lines, wrinkles, acne scarring and irregular pigmentation are considered good candidates for laser skin treatments. But such should ideally not have oily skin and their skin should be fairly elastic. You also have to be in good medical condition for the treatment to produce desired results. Individuals who are most likely to be pleased with cosmetic laser skin resurfacing are those with significant skin defects. Such also needs to be knowledgeable about what to realistically expect after the treatment.
Types of cosmetic lasers
The plethora of options on ground as regards lasers for cosmetic rejuvenation can be overwhelming. It could leave you in a maze of sort. You may find it hard to make sense out of the different options, given the somewhat technical terms often used. Let’s have a look at some of these types.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) laser
Considered one of the most effective, CO2 laser produces the highest intensity among the different available options. The high heat intensity produced makes recovery from a procedure employing this type to take longer. It is used for fighting deep-set wrinkles, saggy skin, acne scars, sun damage, warts and skin cancer (in the earliest stages). CO2 lasers are not great for stretch marks, though. Sharplan, Fraxel re:repair and Harmony Pixel Perfect are some brands of this laser type.
Also known as Erbium: YAG laser, this type is less-powerful than a CO2 laser, but it is less-invasive. This means it takes lesser length of time to recover after a procedure that uses an Erbium laser. It works best for superficial dermal flaws, such as acne scars, minimal sun damage and minor-to-moderate wrinkles. A popular brand name of this type is Harmony Pixel Laser.
These are somewhat different from both CO2 and Erbium lasers in that they are considerably less-invasive. Fraxel lasers, based on the concept of fractional photothermolysis, produce numerous tiny openings or injuries in the skin with the aim of stimulating collagen production. Like Erbium lasers, these work best for superficial skin imperfections. Fraxel, Affirm and Active-FX are three of the other brands that work in similar way.
Regarded as gold standard for hair removal, diode lasers deliver light into the skin through laser diodes to promote skin rejuvenation. The laser diodes activate cell receptors and ramp up production of collagen. They boost blood circulation at the same time. Diode lasers, which, for good measure, are supposedly non-invasive and result in less downtime, are good for dealing with aging spots or freckles, oily acne, fine lines and wrinkles. They tighten skin and improve tone.
PDL (lasers) are used for the treatment of Rosacea, birthmarks, vascular lesions, stretch marks, spider veins and broken capillaries among others. VBeam is a brand name of this laser type.
Popular for hair removal procedures, Alexandrite laser is quite effective at eliminating thinner, finer hair on the skin. It is also used for dealing with leg veins and removing tattoos, especially green, yellow or black tattoos. Brand names include EpiTouch Plus and GentleLASE.
Nd: YAG laser
This is yet another laser that is popularly used for skin hair and tattoo removal. In addition, Nd: YAG lasers are employed in dealing with skin pigmentation problems, spider veins and for general skin rejuvenation. They, however, do not appear to be very effective in dealing with vascular lesions. The success rate for general skin issues is not exactly impressive. GentleYAG, CoolTouch and CoolGlide are some brands of this type of laser.
There are several other methods of cosmetic skin resurfacing that are not laser-based. They include intense pulsed light or IPL (e.g. Lumenis, Quantum and EpiLight), ultrasound imaging (Ulthera), radio frequency (Thermage) and infrared (Titan).
How laser resurfacing is done
Before you can have a cosmetic skin laser resurfacing done on you, your doctor would ideally first assess if you are truly a perfect candidate for such. Your medical conditions (including the past ones) would be assessed and a physical examination would be carried out. There will need to determine if the extent of your skin defects justify such a procedure at all.
Laser skin resurfacing can be an outpatient procedure or one performed while on admission. It can be performed while on visit to a doctor’s office. The area to be treated would first be cleaned. You may also be asked to take an oral antibiotic if you have a history of infections, such as oral herpes. Then local or general anesthesia will be applied, depending on the scale of the resurfacing, to reduce the discomfort that may be experienced during the procedure.
When the anesthetic treatment has kicked in, your surgeon gets to work with the best laser type. Controlled and targeted beam of laser light is used to remove damaged outer skin layers to reveal healthier layer beneath. The growth of new skin and collagen synthesis are enhanced. The entire procedure should take any length of time from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the approach employed and size of area for treatment.
There are diverse methods used for laser skin resurfacing. They include ablative, non-ablative and fractional resurfacing. These differ in terms of effectiveness, pain and recovery time.
Ablative laser resurfacing
Also known as wounding resurfacing, ablative procedure involves the removal of the thin, outer layers of the skin (dermis). This is in addition to “ablating” or injuring the skin surface (epidermis). It is very effective for dealing with significant skin flaws and signs of skin-aging. Ablative treatment can reverse years of sun damage and substantially fade skin discolorations. However, it takes a longer time to recover after the procedure.
As the name indicates, this type of resurfacing does not wound the skin and is less invasive. It takes lesser length of time to recover after treatment, compared to an ablative procedure. But it is not as effective as the other type. Non-ablative resurfacing promotes collagen synthesis and tightens skin. It is more effective for dealing with fine lines and minor wrinkles. It can also improve certain types of skin discolorations and help deal with redness caused by rosacea and broken capillaries.
This type of laser skin resurfacing has grown to become one of the most sought-after. Fractional laser skin treatment is so preferred because it is accompanied by less discomfort and minimal downtime. As the name indicates, only a “fraction” of the skin is impacted by the treatment. Fractional procedure targets just the affected areas of the skin, unlike non-fractional traditional laser skin resurfacing.
This approach is more technically known as “fractional photothermolysis.” The surrounding skin tissues are not affected by the heat coming from the laser. This treatment promotes collagen production as well as growth of new skin cells. Fractional laser skin resurfacing can be either ablative or non-ablative in nature. Popular brands of fractional devices include Fraxel and Harmony Pixel lasers.
What results can you expect from laser resurfacing?
The sorts of benefits or results you get from cosmetic laser skin resurfacing will depend on the type of laser used. The extent of area treated also matters. Ablative procedure can leave you sore for some length of time, but it is highly effective. Visible improvement is usually noticed in skin appearance and texture once the treated area heals. Deep laser treatments stimulate collagen synthesis in the lower dermis and eliminate appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Lasers help to get rid of age spots, birthmarks, acne scars, moles, warts and other skin imperfections.
Results from non-ablative procedures are not usually immediate or remarkable as those of ablative treatment. They tend to be gradual. Non-ablative resurfacing is more likely to help in improving skin pigment and texture that in getting rid of deep-set wrinkles. The laser skin treatments can be beneficial in dealing with scarring from injury or surgery.
It must be noted, though, that you are likely to need repeat treatment sessions before getting satisfactory results. You may require higher number of treatment sessions to get the sort of results you are after in the case of non-ablative procedures. The number of treatments required will depend on the extent of the problem. Just a couple of sessions may be all that are needed to do away with minor skin flaws.
Risks involved in laser skin treatment
While considered mostly safe, the use of lasers in dealing with dermal defects is not without its issues. The possible complications are more likely when the procedure is performed by a surgeon with less expertise or experience. The risks or side effects of laser skin resurfacing include:
Bleeding – It is normal to expect blood to flow out from the skin after having laser resurfacing, especially the ablative kind. But this could be out of control in certain individuals and go on for even longer period of time than normal. An Australian woman recently made the news after a laser resurfacing session left fresh blood oozing out of her face as she made her way home afterwards. She also had skin inflammation and bruises beneath her eyes.
Scarring – Doesn’t that sound surprising to you? It probably does, given acne scars are one of the skin issues that lasers are expected to help with. The truth is that anything that does damage to the skin – as these devices do – can result in scarring. If you easily develop scars from minor injuries, you will do well to steer clear of laser skin treatments, especially the ablative types.
Pain – While anesthesia may be given to help deal with pain during treatment, some level of pain may still be felt afterwards. The intensity of the pain will depend on how invasive the procedure is. You will likely be put on pain killers to help deal with this discomfort until you recover fully. This pain may also assume psychological dimension.
Redness, swelling or itching – The skin could become swollen, red and itchy. These are common side effects, especially after ablative laser treatment. The top layer of the skin is vaporized by heat from ablative lasers. This makes the skin raw and red. The swelling and itchy feeling may subside in no time, but the redness lasts for longer length of time. These could be aggravated by an existing skin condition. The side effects are also associated with non-ablative procedures.
Infection – You could contract an infection through cosmetic laser skin resurfacing, particularly in the cases of significantly invasive procedures. This is the reason you may be given an antibiotic before commencing treatment. After resurfacing is done, you could also get an infection from touching the treated area. Herpes virus infection is a common risk factor.
Intensified sun sensitivity – Laser treatments raise your sensitive to the sun to a higher level due to your skin being damaged by laser. You will have to keep the treated area well-protected from the sun. Adequate sunscreen protection would also be needed to prevent considerable photo-damage.
Skin discoloration – Cosmetic laser skin resurfacing can bring about unpleasant changes in skin color. You may experience hyper-pigmentation (skin becoming darker than normal) or hypo-pigmentation (skin becoming lighter than normal). These are usually noticed weeks after treatment and often go away without any intervention. Persistent hyper-pigmentation can be more easily treated than hypo-pigmentation that won’t go away on its own.
There are several other nightmarish outcomes that have been reported from the use of lasers for skin treatment. For instance, the Daily Mail reported in June 2013 the story of a woman who had this procedure to eliminate a spider vein on the cheek. But she was left with second-degree burns after having the treatment at a med spa. She also suffered permanent nerve damage accompanied by cheek numbness and throbbing pain. These complications from an awful laser skin treatment were actually still very much present years later.
Lasers and skin colors
The risk of skin discoloration is greater when the wrong type of laser is used. People with lighter skin tones are considered the best candidates for laser skin resurfacing for this reason. Until relatively recently, African-Americans, Latin Americans, Asians and other ethnic groups having dark skin tones were advised completely against getting laser skin treatments. Excess light or energy produced by lasers is not as effectively diffused in dark-skinned individuals as in those with lighter skin tones. Efficient diffusion is impeded by higher amount of pigment, which absorbs the energy. This inadvertent absorption of excess laser energy leads to side effects such as skin discoloration and blisters.
Advances in cosmetic laser offerings have now solved this challenge to a significant extent. Erbium and Fraxel lasers are two excellent options for people with dark skin tones who are interested in laser skin resurfacing. These have significantly lower risk of side effects than CO2 lasers, which produce highest intensity light. Nd: YAG and Diode lasers are also considered great for ethnic, dark skin tones, especially when it comes to laser hair removal treatment. But the risk of burns remains, unless your procedure is handled by a well-trained and experienced professional, such as a dermatologist.
How soon you will be able to get back to your normal schedule depends on diverse factors. The type of cosmetic laser skin treatment (including whether ablative or non-ablative) and the size of the area treated matters when talking about recovery time. Numerous weeks, or even months, will be required to recover from a highly invasive procedure, or one that covers wider areas. Less-invasive procedures involving the use of Erbium, Fraxel and Nd: YAG lasers as well as a few other laser types heal faster than CO2 laser-assisted treatments. Recovery could take as little as two weeks. It should be noted, however, that more-invasive laser skin treatments are more likely to produce desired results.
If your main reason for wanting to avoid surgery is due to its invasive nature, laser skin treatment doesn’t offer a significantly better alternative in that regard. This is especially true when we are talking about those highly-invasive procedures done with CO2 lasers. The recovery time is comparable to that of a surgical procedure. Some doctors have even concluded that cosmetic laser skin resurfacing is equivalent to surgery despite the fact that no incisions are involved.
Therefore, it will not be an advisable thing for everyone to opt for use of lasers for skin rejuvenation. Individuals who suffer from immune system disorder that makes healing hard will do well to avoid this treatment, same as those who scar easily.
You may not be a good candidate for laser skin treatment, if you:
- Are pregnant or breast-feeding
- Are diabetic
- Connective tissue disorders, such as Sjogren’s syndrome or lupus erythematosus
- Have had scar tissue (keloids) overgrowth in the past giving rise to ridged areas
- Use the acne drug isotretinoin (Amnesteem1 or have done so in the past year
- Have a history of facial radiation therapy
It is highly advisable to disclose the above because they constitute real risks of complications.
How much does laser skin treatment cost?
A variety of factors also come into play in determining how much a person pays for cosmetic laser procedures. Type of treatment (as regards area to be treated) is one of these factors. The amounts charged for surgeon’s services and the use of facility for treatment also influences how much you pay considerably. All expenses made before, during and after treatment procedure are factored into your bill. Your location may also influence the total amount you will have to part with.
The best you can do to get a more definite estimate would be to speak with a professional specializing in cosmetic laser skin practice. But it is safe to mention here that laser skin treatments are usually expensive. The American Society of Plastic Surgeon estimated average surgeon’s fees at about $2,500 per session. And to think that you are likely to need more that one treatment session to get desired results, you will agree this is one costly undertaking, even though the results might justify the money spent. It will therefore be in your favor to consider the pros and cons thoroughly before parting with your hard-earned money.
Boosting results with HGH
You could enhance the quality of results you get from laser skin treatments by boosting the level of human growth hormone (HGH) in your body. Skin rejuvenation is one of the many amazing benefits that this substance is said to offer. The supposed usefulness of HGH for this purpose and several others have for long been considered suspect. But the ability of the substance to promote cell repair and cell regeneration is thought indicative that it can help to promote smooth, firm and younger-looking skin. There is also growing evidence supporting this viewpoint.
Research has revealed that the natural reduction in HGH levels as people grow older promotes signs of aging, such as wrinkles, accumulation of body fat and loss of lean muscle mass. It has also been shown that you can fight these aging symptoms by raising the amount of growth hormone in your body. Synthetic HGH or somatropin injections offer the most effective means of doing this. But, in addition to being quite expensive, they are FDA-regulated and are not usually available for skin rejuvenation or other aesthetic uses. A product like the all-natural GenF20 Plus offers an excellent, more affordable and safer option for fighting skin-aging. With the aid of potent, clinically-proven natural ingredients, this supplement boosts natural production of growth hormone in your body.
Are the benefits worth the risks?
Well, the answer to that question is for the most part yours to provide. Think of the wonders laser treatment can do to your skin side-by-side with the possible risks that are associated. However, to make it easier for you to make up your mind on what to do, you could check out the following links for some before and after pictures as well as reviews:
All in all, cosmetic lasers offer highly effective means of dealing with acne scars, fine lines, wrinkles and other skin imperfections. But you need to be aware of the fact that even physicians (dermatologists) may get ahead of themselves making possibly unfounded claims and promises about their benefits. Do your due diligence. You should also have realistic expectation, which should ideally be based on what results you have seen people obtain from laser skin rejuvenation procedures. A powerful HGH supplement, such as GenF20 Plus, can enhance positive treatment outcomes.
Laser skin treatments are usually expensive and often come with unpleasant side effects. Working with an experienced dermatologist with good track records can help reduce potential for side effects. Such would guide you on what you should realistically expect from the procedure.