Laser treatment is far less invasive than a face lift and has fewer undesirable side effects than older cosmetic wrinkle treatments, such as dermabrasion and chemical peels. Laser treatment, also called laser skin rejuvenation or laser resurfacing, is a versatile procedure, reducing wrinkles and other signs of aging skin, such as sun spots, blotchy skin and dark eye circles.
Laser Skin Rejuvenation
The FDA has approved numerous laser devices designed to treat wrinkles and other signs of aging. However, the Cleveland Clinic indicates that laser treatments, which deliver short pulses of light at your skin, fall into a few categories. Ablative, or wounding, laser techniques remove layers of your skin and give you more noticeable results. Non-ablative laser treatments encourage collagen production and healthier skin with little downtime. One newer laser technology is called fractional laser rejuvenation, which targets only damaged skin, leaving healthy skin intact. This technique also lends itself to quicker healing time.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you may not see immediate improvement after laser skin rejuvenation. It may take a few months for you to see the end results of your treatment. If an ablative technique is used, the wounded skin may take up to three weeks to recover, with residual redness lingering for between one to four months, or sometimes even longer. If a non-ablative technique is used, typically between three and six treatments are required to get good results.
Depending on what type of device is used, the procedure your doctor uses can vary. However, your face will be cleansed before the treatment. You’ll be given eye protection to wear. Sometimes, your doctor will apply a topical anesthetic to the treatment area. The AAD describes the sensation of laser therapy as having rubber bands snapped against your face. After treatment is complete, cold compresses may be applied to your skin to assuage pain and swelling.
Laser resurfacing has fewer side effects than dermabrasion or a chemical peel, but treatment isn’t entirely risk-free. The AAD cites temporary darkening or lightening of the skin as a common side effect. You also open yourself up to a slight risk of infection and scarring. It’s essential to follow the post-treatment skin care regimen your doctor prescribes. If you have a more intense ablative laser treatment, you may have to use special facial soaks and apply antibiotic ointment to your skin. Of utmost importance is exercising thorough sun protection the first year after laser treatment to avoid changes in pigmentation. Protecting your skin from the sun also helps prevents new wrinkles and other signs of photoaging.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, laser treatment works better on people with fair complexions. You’re also a good candidate for this treatment if you have wrinkles around the eye area, forehead or mouth — or if you didn’t get the results you wanted from a surgical face lift. If you have blemished skin or are being treated for acne with oral isotretinoin, laser skin rejuvenation isn’t for you. Laser treatment is an elective cosmetic procedure, so it’s unlikely that your health insurance will cover the cost. If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for your treatment, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons suggests asking your doctor if he offers a financing plan.