The best laser is based on how much sun damage your skin has had. For very mild sun damage such as irregular pigmentation, the photofacial may be highly effective.
This modality has little risk, virtually no downtime, and is generally inexpensive.
For individuals with some discoloration, and early superficial wrinkles, options would include the photodynamic therapy approach, the erbium laser, or superficial fractionated lasers.
Within that group of choices, we try to pick the method that best accommodates your needs, your budget, and how you feel about downtime. For more severe sun damage, the fractionated CO2 laser is our overwhelming choice. This laser can actually be used for any type of sun damage from mild to severe, and is the gold standard for treatment of moderate sun damaged skin. I prefer the fractionated CO2 laser for those individuals having more sun damage and deeper wrinkles.
The fractionated CO2 laser does have a few days of downtime, which must be considered when you are choosing a laser treatment. Also for more severe sun-damaged skin, the laser is used at higher settings, and there are always potential problems associated with any laser used at higher settings. Keep in mind that laser treatments are safe, but not risk free.
For those with the worst sun damage including loose skin, the fully ablative CO2 lasers that first were used 10 years ago are still the gold standard for the most severely sun damaged.
No one approach works for every skin type on every individual. People with ethnically darker skin may not be the best candidates for stronger CO2 Fractionated lasers. A consultation with a specialist is the best way to decide on an approach for you.
Deciding between a chemical peel and a laser skin resurfacing treatment is often confusing, as the words laser and chemical bring images of harsh procedures to mind. In reality, laser skin resurfacing treatments and chemical peels are rejuvenating, not damaging. Both help to restore a healthy, youthful, glow.
To determine which treatment is best for your individual skin type and needs, read on, and learn a bit more about the advantages each procedure provides.
Skin Resurfacing Treatments
Skin resurfacing procedures are designed to help treat wrinkles, discoloration, fine lines, acne scars, and other blemishes spots by quickly shedding the outermost layer of your skin.
Once the damaged outer layer of skin is removed, healthier and younger looking skin emerges. Choosing a skin resurfacing procedure largely depends upon several factors:
• Your skin type
• The depth of lines and wrinkles
• The severity of sun damage
• The extent of uneven skin pigmentation
Laser skin resurfacing procedures can be either ablative or non-ablative.
Ablative laser treatment uses brief pulses of high energy, amplified light waves to help remove your skin’s blemishes. It targets both the superficial and deeper layers of your skin.
Non-ablative laser treatment only targets the skin’s middle and deeper layers, keeping the superficial layer intact.
Ablative vs Non-Ablative Laser Treatments
Both ablative and non-ablative laser treatments stimulate skin cells to produce more collagen and elastin - two components of protein responsible for keeping your skin tight and firm.
It is important to note that there is no absolute "best" laser option, as the results of each vary based on individual skin types and needs.
For instance, ablative lasers work best for those with significant skin discolorations and severely sun-damaged skin. Alternatively, non-ablative lasers are best for superficial pigmentation spots, extreme redness such as rosacea, and the appearance of mild-to-moderate facial lines.
The Benefits of Laser Skin Resurfacing
With so many different types of laser skin resurfacing treatments available, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the options. To help you make the right decision for your needs, it is best to think in terms of your skin care goals.
Whether it’s ablative or non-ablative, a laser skin resurfacing procedure can help you accomplish the following:
• Fade skin discolorations (such as brown spots).
• Reduce the appearance of mild to moderate facial wrinkles.
• Reverse the effects of leathery, sun-damaged skin.
• Improve and potentially eliminate redness from rosacea.
• Lighten or possibly eliminate scarring.
While laser skin resurfacing treatments make use of light energy to encourage the skin’s regeneration and boost collagen production, a chemical peel uses an applied solution to gently peel off the outermost layers of the skin.
Ranging from light to deep, the chemical solutions vary according to strength and specific ingredients.
The extent of their peeling action may be influenced by how they are applied and how long they remain on the skin.
Light Chemical Peels
Light chemical peels partially reach through the outermost layers of your skin and use a milder acid solution such as glycolic acid, alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA), salicylic acid, fruit enzymes, or a low concentration of trichloroacetic acid (TCA).
Deep Chemical Peels
Deep chemical peels reach further into the middle and deeper layers of the skin. Common types of deep chemical peels include phenol peels, stronger TCA peels, and croton oil. Deeper peels are recommended if you exhibit advanced signs of aging like intense wrinkles, extensive sun damage, or severe acne scars.
Medium-to-deep peels can produce dramatic improvements, they are more invasive. Anesthesia is required to make you comfortable during the treatment. Additionally, several days of downtime are required to allow your skin to heal.