Although cumulative skin damage is generally considered a basic, undeniable force of nature, recent technological developments suggest that a host of skin issues including aging, sun damage, and scarring may be more manageable than once thought.
Advances in laser technology, specifically, have progressed so rapidly over the last decade that successful treatment can finally be achieved, offering men and women a means of achieving timeless, ageless skin. Refinements in the technology and technique behind laser therapy have provided both patients and practitioners with more therapeutic and less invasive options that, most importantly, deliver satisfying results.
Laser therapy encompasses an immense amount of complex and technical information that may seem mysterious to patients. Although it can be comforting to know that there is a variety of laser treatment options available, it is important to consider all variables involved in treatment and the various outcomes and risks associated with each option.
Certain laser therapies are more invasive than others and may involve particular risks that others don’t. This is complex information that some physicians make even more confusing by making unrealistic claims and promises to patients. This is why patients should be empowered to understand the basics of a laser procedure, even before scheduling a consultation with a physician.
Laser therapy is designed to resurface the skin. It is also known as a laser peel, laser vaporization, and lasabrasion. New and improved technology not only allows physicians to reduce the look of wrinkles, scars, and blemishes, but also provides an entirely new level of control that permits unimaginable precision and focus to very sensitive and specific areas.
Laser therapy is commonly used to treat:
- Effects of aging including wrinkles and fine lines
- Effects of sun damage including sun spots and hyperpigmentation
- Blotchy or uneven overall complexion
A laser consists of short, concentrated, pulsating beams of light designed to target damaged skin one layer at a time. There are two types of lasers that can be used to resurface the skin.
The first is known as an ablative laser
. This procedure involves breaking through the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and penetrating deeper into the underlying layer of skin (dermis), where the targeted tissue is then reorganized. This process works by sending signals to our bodies to produce new collagen and elastin fibers in the selected area - key agents in forming new, smoother, firmer skin.
The second type is a non-ablative laser
, which target the lower layers of the skin without breaking through, or injuring the outer layer of skin.
It is important to know that one laser is not superior to the other. The method you choose depends on the particular results you expect and the amount of risk you are willing to take.
Ablative and Non-Ablative Procedures: Risks vs. Results
As you may imagine, there is a higher level of risk involved in ablative procedures than in non-ablative procedures. Ablative procedures are much more invasive and require considerably more time to heal. The upside to this method is that it is a one-time treatment that produces drastic results without requiring multiple sessions.
Oozing and/or bleeding
Flaking and redness
Long-term scarring or discoloration (rare)
- Significantly decreases the appearance of wrinkles and skin discoloration.
- Drastically diminishes the visible effects of sun damage by replacing damaged skin with new, healthy skin.
Non-ablative procedures are not nearly as invasive and involve a minimal level of risk and post-procedure healing time. The results, however, are more subtle and multiple treatments are needed to produce a drastic outcome. The upside to this method is that it requires minimal recovery time, if any at all.
Results (after repeated treatments):
- Swelling and bruising (temporary)
- Redness resembling a sunburn (temporary)
- Darkening of treated areas (temporary; these lighten as they heal)
- Fades the appearance of superficial brown spots
- Reduces redness of the skin
- Improves the look of minor wrinkles and frown lines
- Enhances collagen production
Like anything that elicits drastic results, laser therapy comes at a cost. While largely considered safe, many patients are not comfortable with some of the potential risks involved. Plus, many of these procedures can require multiple treatment sessions to achieve the desired effect, which can be too time-consuming and expensive for some patients.
Achieving drastic results is tempting, however it is important to recognize that facial procedures are not just quick-fixes; they require maintenance on the part of the patient. None of these treatments will provide the best possible results if there is no implementation of an appropriate daily skincare routine.
There is an endless variety of topical anti-aging formulas on the market. Some seem to work, while others simply don’t. This discrepancy causes many patients to preemptively take the more invasive route, in hopes of finally diminishing what seem to be undefeatable conditions associated with aging.
Finding effective products can be difficult, but it is not impossible. If you understand the causes and processes involved in the aging process, you can narrow down which products may be best suited to treat your particular problem.
Laser therapy for skin rejuvenation revolves around the treatment of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and scarring. All of these conditions can, however, be treated using topical formulas. See below for our top recommendations for products that can help treat dark spots, scarring, and wrinkling, and possibly keep you out of the doctor’s chair.