Laser and energy treatments have become immensely popular for treating the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, spots, and skin discoloration. Modern laser facial treatments offer improvement for a variety of conditions. They are also highly flexible, offering treatments which can be modest with no downtime, or more aggressive treatment, with a bit more downtime. Lasers also offer a very minimal chance of scarring when used appropriately, a short recovery period, and often dramatic results.
Variety of Lasers
Nearly all types of laser facial rejuvenation treatments employ the use of a concentrated beam of light that is able to stimulate the body’s production of collagen, remove unwanted discoloration such as facial veins and brown spotting, and stimulate rejuvenation in the face. Often this can be done while leaving surface layers of skin intact (called “non-ablative” rejuvenation), minimizing downtime. There are non-ablative lasers, fractionated lasers (lasers which partially remove microscopic portions of the skin’s surface) and ablative lasers (which remove the skin’s upper layers). This wide variety of treatment options offers choices for almost every patient.
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Fractionated Laser Technology
Fractional lasers are some of the latest developments in laser rejuvenation. These devices create small microscopic injuries to the surface of the skin which are distributed across the treatment area in a way which minimizes downtime but maximizes efficacy (think of a lawn that has been aerated). These can be very effective for wrinkles, scarring, and other indications as well. Some examples of fractionated devices are the Fraxel and the Affirm.
RadioFrequency Energy Treatments
Radiofrequency devices aim energy into the deeper layers of the skin, heating it to stimulate collagen production and tissue tightening. This leaves the top layers of the skin intact. These devices are used to tighten loose skin and lift sagging areas of the face. Most of these systems do this by stimulating the body’s natural healing response through delivery of heat∕light to layers beneath the epidermis. Examples of such devices are the Aluma and Thermage.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) devices use light to remove brown spots and wrinkles associated with sun damage. A broad spectrum light source is used to target melanin or blood vessels in the treatment area. It can improve hyperpigmentation and skin tone. There is little to no downtime with IPL as it leaves the skin intact. There may be some redness or swelling at the treatment site afterward, however this is generally mild and will fade. Several treatments may be needed to obtain desired results.In general lasers are an extremely effective treatment option for facial rejuvenation, especially when used by highly-trained and experienced physicians with multiple lasers and a variety of treatment options at their disposal.