A Single Laser Treatment for a Younger Skin
Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing has been declared the number one “anti-aging breakthrough of the decade” by WebMD.com. It has grown in popularity by 130% in just one year. What’s so different about Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing? It is minimally-invasive and produces maximum benefit at a minimum risk to the patient.
The principle of skin resurfacing is simple: by inflicting a controlled damage to the skin, the procedure is intended to stimulate the skin’s natural healing mechanism; cause it to increase its collagen production and re-grow new, wrinkle and blemish-free skin. The goal of all skin resurfacing methods is the same, the technique you choose for your skin resurfacing however determines its cosmetic outcome, the level of risk involved and the length of post-procedure downtime.
In traditional dermabrasion (there are several different techniques used in the procedure) the doctor “sands away” the top layer of the skin. Dermabrasion produces rejuvenating results it has however numerous known risks (scarring, acne flare-ups or mini cysts, infection, etc.), complications (such as scars caused by over-production of collagen, broken capillaries, etc.) and requires several weeks of recovery.
The newer approach to dermabrasion involves laser. There are two popular techniques currently available: ablative lasers which vaporize the top layer of the skin and non-ablative lasers which only super-heat top layers of the skin causing a “controlled injury” to stimulate the growth of new skin. Ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment is usually performed once and produces long-lasting results. Non-ablative laser dermabrasion, may require several treatments to achieve desired results.
Until recently, the only available laser technology for dermabrasion relied on a single beam laser. Ablative laser skin resurfacing with a single laser beam produces impressive and long lasting results. It is however costly (from $3,500 to $5,000); it has several significant risk factors: it involves general anesthesia and may expose the patient to the risk of infection and scaring. Even worse, it requires a long recovery, on average 30 days before the patient is able to leave her home and return to work.
In contrast to the traditional, single-beam laser dermabrasion, Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing presents the patient with a new, gentler and safer option and here is why: Fractional CO2 Laser doesn’t use a single, solid laser beam like the old CO2 laser known for causing wounds, sores and crusting but a multitude of microscopic “beamlets”. A solid beam laser causes a massive, traumatic and less precisely controlled, intentional injury to the skin; many microscopic laser beams inflict much less traumatic and better-controlled skin injury, leaving enough intact skin tissue to accelerate recovery.
Fractional CO2 Laser is used for ablative skin resurfacing and produces the same spectacular and long-lasting results as those achieved with a single beam laser but because it is much less traumatic it eliminates most of the liabilities of the single beam laser procedure. Since the Fractional CO2 Laser uses many microscopic laser beams (as opposed to one solid laser beam) it results in a minimal damage to the top layer of the skin. That’s why the procedure itself is much less painful and doesn’t require general anesthesia. The results of it are spectacular (the majority of patients agrees that a single Fractional CO2 Laser treatment took 10 years of their appearance.). The risk of complications is minimal. The post-procedure downtime is much shorter: 3 to 4 days. Another important factor is the cost which is about $2,000.
The cosmetic outcomes produced by Fractional CO2 Laser are impressive. Usually a single, minimally-invasive treatment produces long-lasting results which continue to improve for months after the procedure thanks to the increased collagen production stimulated by the treatment. (The patient may choose to have a touch up treatment every few years to maintain a youthful appearance and the skin’s collagen production’s level.)
Speaking about Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing David Goldberg, MD, director of Skin Laser and Surgery Specialists of New York and New Jersey and clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City said: “Essentially, you are getting all the benefits of laser resurfacing, still the best way to remove wrinkles, but you’re getting it without the downtime and without the horrendous complication rate.” (Excerpted from WebMD Magazine’s article “Top 6 Anti-Aging Breakthroughs” by Colette Bouchez)
What does a Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing treatment involve? During the treatment the laser is moved precisely over the area that needs to be treated. (The patient experiences slight stinging, comparable with that of a rubber band snapped against the skin. Topical numbing cream and the use of cooled air during the procedure are usually enough to make the procedure painless. In some cases, oral analgesics for pain and anxiety control may be provided for added comfort of the patient.)
If the problems to be treated are of considerable depth as it is the case with wrinkles, blemishes or scars, the laser will be moved over the area in a repeated pattern. This way, the laser’s tiny beams are able to super heat several layers of damaged skin and uncover the perfect, undamaged skin beneath.
Depending on the extent of the area treated the treatment takes from 30-45 minutes (for a partial face lasabration) to one and half hour (for a full face lasabration).
What to expect after the treatment? For the first two days the patient may look and feel like after sunburn. (Skin redness and swelling are to be expected). Some pain may accompany it as well. (If needed, pain medication will be prescribed by your doctor.) The patient is usually provided with such items as sterile mineral water for misting the treated area as well as an antibacterial cream and a moisturizer. Most patients resume work in three to four days. (Skin peeling is to be expected in the first week after the treatment which subsides in about 10 days.)
What issues can be addressed with Fractional CO2 Laser? Just one treatment produces significant reduction in the appearance of fine lines, large pores, sun damage, age spots, freckles, and scars. (In the experience of Dr. Bahari of Affinity Cosmetic & Laser Center in Woodland Hills, CA Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing improves lines under the eyes and around the lips better than any other cosmetic laser available today.) There is also a significant skin tightening effect because the heat of the laser beams causes an immediate collagen contraction.
Who isn’t a good candidate for Fractional CO2 Laser treatment? This treatment isn’t recommended for African Americans and other people with darker skin tones because it may result in a permanent skin discoloration and dark spots. (And of course, like all other cosmetic procedures, Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing is not advisable for smokers who are at a high risk of complications and may have difficulty healing.)
To conclude: the bad news is that no one can escape the visible and damaging effects of the sun, aging and gravity on their skin. The good news is that we no longer have to accept the damage because of the effectiveness and safety of Fractional CO2 Laser.
Fractional CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing, the anti-aging breakthrough, is performed on outpatient basis, doesn’t require general anesthesia or extended downtime, and dramatically improves the appearance of a damaged skin at a fraction of the cost of traditional laser skin resurfacing.