LASER uses a variety of intensely focused light beams to treat skin conditions. Different LASERs target different aspects of the skin. For example, CO2 and erbium LASERs target the top skin layers removing the top epidermal layer and stimulating collagen production in the underlying dermis and thus skin rejuvenation and improvement in skin texture, pigmentation, fine lines, and overall skin appearance. Pulsed dye and Nd-YAG LASERs can target thread veins and other superficially visible veins under the skin. Scars can also be targeted for improvement. Each LASER type works in a specific range of the light spectrum and thus can target different tissue structures. Settings can be mild or stronger and can target a full uninterrupted area of skin for a stronger effect or in a fractionated or ‘grid pattern’ which can heal quicker. Milder forms of light treatment such as IPL (intense pulsed light) are not considered LASERs but have some similarities in concept and application.
LASER settings can be adjusted to take into account your skin type, the strength of treatment and associated healing time or downtime. They can have up to two weeks of healing time including raw skin, peeling, crusting and sometimes pinpoint bleeding of the skin but achieve long-lasting skin improvements.
You will need to wear eye protection during the LASER treatment. You will also hear the LASER when it is activated. These are safety measures for your protection. It can feel hot during the treatment.
LASER skin rejuvenation is best performed when you are less tanned. Some LASERs should be used cautiously with settings adjusted for darker skin types. It is vital to protect your skin from the sun while healing.
Ensure you consider all aspects of a procedure. You can speak to your surgeon about these areas of the surgery in more detail during a consultation.
0.5 to 1.5 hours depending on the extent and type of LASER
None, topical local anaesthetic, local anaesthetic, sedation depending on the type of LASER and extent of area treated
Usually an office-based procedure unless combined with other procedures e.g. a facelift
LASER risks include slow healing, infection of the skin while healing e.g. if a cold sore develops, over or under pigmentation of the skin, demarcation lines between treated and untreated areas, less effect than anticipated, scarring of the skin, skin breakouts or irritation, persistent redness of the skin, sun sensitivity.
Risks can be reduced by carefully protecting your skin from the sun while healing and following your specific after care advice and skin care.
Your skin will feel tight and can be raw and swollen to a variable extent depending on the strength and type of LASER. The outer layers of skin can take a couple of weeks to heal. You may have some pinkness of your skin for a while after this. You must protect your skin from the sun while healing and you may have very specific skin care regimes prescribed for the healing period. It is important to follow these.
Results can be long-lasting depending on the type of LASER chosen. Sometimes the full effect takes time to achieve. Full ablative LASER resurfacing has longer-lasting effects than milder fractionated LASER. Combining LASER skin rejuvenation with long-term skin care such as retinoid/retinol-based skin care, sun protection, and not smoking will help you maintain the results of a facial LASER rejuvenation for longer.