There are many things that contribute to an aged appearance in your skin. Exposure to UV rays through the sun or tanning beds, decreased collagen production, acne, alcohol consumption, and smoking are just a few. The results include wrinkles around your mouth and eyes, differences in skin pigmentation, uneven surfacing, and scarring. It is possible to undo some or all of the damage done to your skin over the years, using a procedure called skin resurfacing.
What Is Skin Resurfacing?
Essentially, skin resurfacing is a controlled injury to your skin. Traditional laser resurfacing involves using a laser to carefully remove layers of skin, removing or reducing damage and evening out the skin. Your skin then heals in a tighter, smoother appearance. Another version is fractional laser resurfacing, in which the laser is used to punch tiny holes in your skin. This boosts the production of collagen within the connective tissue, causing your skin to tighten as it heals.
The procedure can be repeated as necessary, or be completed in a series for deeper skin damage. It can also be used on small target areas or the face as a whole.
Skin resurfacing can be performed with several types of lasers, the most common being erbium and carbon dioxide. Erbium lasers are used to treat superficial and moderate wrinkles, while carbon dioxide lasers typically treat deep wrinkles and scars. Both can be used to even out the skin texture.
Erbium lasers tend to require less recovery time than carbon dioxide lasers because they do not burn much outside the target area. This means that there is less pain, less swelling, and less redness after the procedure.
Some doctors have laser type preferences based on their experience, but ultimately it will come down to what the patient needs and the skin conditions being treated. Dr. Davidson typically uses the erbium laser, but may combine different laser types to achieve the optimal result.
How Will My Skin Look After the Procedure?
It depends on the type of resurfacing. Traditional laser resurfacing involves burning away entire layers of skin in small target areas. These areas will experience redness, stinging, and a little swelling in the days immediately following the procedure. For some people, the areas may look like really bad sunburns, with some blistering and even some oozing. This condition will not last long, but patients should be careful not to pick at these areas or there may be scarring.
Fractional laser resurfacing is less invasive, so there is less recovery involved. This procedure essentially punches tiny holes in the skin as a way of boosting collagen and elastin production deep inside the dermis. Since treated areas are surrounded by untreated areas, there is less risk of bleeding or scabbing. Patients who undergo this procedure will still probably have some redness and swelling, but it won’t be as pronounced and will go away sooner than with traditional resurfacing.
For both types of resurfacing, the skin will look fresher and younger once healing is completed. The extra collagen and elastin will smooth out the skin and give it a tighter, rejuvenated appearance. You’ll be able to see the results as soon as a few days after the procedure.
Obviously, your skin will require special attention in the days following resurfacing treatments. The doctor will provide you with pain medication if needed and give you a full description of your treatment aftercare requirements. This will include extra applications of sunscreen every day, special cleaning instructions, and possibly a moisturizing regimen to keep your skin soft and healthy. It is very important that you follow your doctor’s instructions to prevent additional scarring or other more serious complications, such as infection.
Schedule Your Skincare Consultation at Davidson Plastic Surgery
Dr. Christopher Davidson is a Harvard-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in many different treatments and procedures. He works with his patients to create a personalized skincare treatment plan that will generate the best results. To find out if laser resurfacing is the right choice for you, contact our Boston office at (781) 237-7000 to schedule and initial consultation with Dr. Davidson and our highly trained esthetician today.