American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Why laser skin resurfacing is a powerful facial rejuvenation tool

laser skin resurfacing is a powerful facial rejuvenation tool

Many patients undervalue the importance of skin texture, but it is a critical component of a vital-looking face. The human eye equates smooth skin with youth, sometimes without us even realizing it.

This is why laser skin resurfacing can be such a powerful facial rejuvenation tool. Not only is it a nonsurgical procedure that improves the appearance of brown spots, redness and "crepey" skin texture, but there is truly a laser for everyone, no matter your age or skin type.

As with any aesthetic procedure, the key to an exemplary result is choosing the right one for your unique anatomy and needs. This is why it is critical to see a provider, such as a board-certified plastic surgeon, who has extensive experience with laser skin resurfacing.

Is a plastic surgeon better for laser skin resurfacing?

All lasers are energy-based devices, and, in some cases, getting certified in the use of one does not require a medical degree. Laser-based procedures are sometimes available at your local med spa or dermatologist's office. So, is a plastic surgeon really a better option for laser skin resurfacing?

The most important thing is that you find a provider with extensive experience with lasers of all types. Plastic surgeons and dermatologists typically share a passion for safe and effective laser procedures for their patients. They also tend to have similar laser training and experience.

However, there are definite advantages to seeing a plastic surgeon. Since plastic surgeons have training and experience in all forms of facial rejuvenation – both surgical and nonsurgical – you will get an honest assessment of whether or not a laser procedure can deliver what you want.

When you see a provider who only offers one kind of care that is what you will get whether it is right for your needs or not. Understanding what can and cannot be achieved with laser skin resurfacing is crucial for ensuring that you'll be happy with your results.

Managing expectations with laser skin resurfacing

As discussed, a nonsurgical laser-based procedure can deliver powerful facial rejuvenation results for almost any patient, although those with darker skin should be cautious. Today, there are specific lasers to improve the appearance of:

  • Brown spots
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Melasma
  • Redness
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Pore size
  • Acne scars
  • Stretch marks
  • Facial aging
  • Uneven "crepey" skin texture

Laser skin resurfacing may give a slight "lift" to your skin, but it will not improve the appearance of significant "jowling" or loose skin in the lower face. It is not a replacement for a facelift or a neck lift.

However, lasers will leave your skin looking brighter, smoother and more radiant. And this goes a long way toward making you look and feel more energetic, vibrant and youthful.

Lasers for every age

One of the biggest benefits of laser skin resurfacing is that there is a laser for every age. Many patients start in their 20s or early 30s with an IPL – or intense pulse light – procedure to address brown spots, redness and broken blood vessels.

Clear + Brilliant is the name of a nice "starter" laser to induce collagen production. Collagen is akin to the foundation of a house, so it provides more support for your skin. Many younger patients use a laser procedure as a form of "prejuvenation" and/or to address acne scars.

The picosecond laser technology is also an excellent entry-level laser that can improve the quality and texture of your skin, including brown and red spots. This less invasive procedure results in redness and swelling for only about 24-48 hours. Patients in their 40s and 50s, however, may need a more intense laser treatment, such as the CO2 last, to improve the appearance of:

  • Significant sun damage
  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Loss of skin elasticity

With older patients, laser skin resurfacing is less of a standalone procedure and more often used in combination with other nonsurgical procedures. It can also be an excellent way to prep your skin for a surgical procedure and/or maintain the vibrancy of your results. If you are gearing up for a facelift or neck lift, it is prudent to discuss how a laser could prepare your skin for an even better overall surgical result.

Ablative vs nonablative lasers

The right laser for you is going to depend on your individual anatomy, desired outcome and ability to tolerate downtime. Specific lasers are going to affect your skin more intensely than others. In general, a laser skin resurfacing procedure with an ablative laser will require more downtime. It is also going to produce a more significant improvement. This is the trade-off. A laser such as the:

  • CO2
  • Erbium

These ablative lasers actually remove a portion of your skin's surface. This is what stimulates healing in the deeper layers of your tissue. But it will also leave your skin looking red and angry for up to two weeks. With this controlled "burn", your skin will be red and swollen for 3-4 days, and then it will begin to slough. Washing and diligent facial soaks help to remove this anticipated debris. A nonablative laser such as the:

  • PicoSure
  • 1540nm
  • Clear + Brilliant

Ironically, these lasers penetrate deeper than an ablative laser, but since they do not damage your skin's surface, they require less or no downtime. In fact, many patients liken a nonablative laser treatment to a slightly more intense facial.

Lasers and skin color

Anyone who wants to make changes to his or her skin can be a candidate for laser skin resurfacing. In most cases, the energy part of the laser is targeted towards the pigment, or color, in your skin and blood vessels. This is why darker-skinned patients with more melanin in their skin need to be more cautious as aggressive laser treatments could unintentionally overtreat the skin, creating problems.

Patients with more melanin do better with a slow and steady approach with laser, as opposed to fast and strong. This is another reason why it is so important to see a very skilled provider such as a board-certified plastic surgeon. Our goal is to safely refresh and rejuvenate your skin with as little downtime as possible so that you look as you feel.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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