The skin is a sense organ with excretory and protective functions. However, its role in body aesthetics cannot be shoved aside. The ability to look good largely depends on the quality of your skin and of course, your facial structure. This is why the skin is quite important in cosmetics. While it might take invasive procedures to change the structure of your face, you can look a lot better with procedures as simple as a laser skin treatment.
Laser therapy is a widely used medical tool that makes use of light-emitting diodes. It can stimulate body cells to promote repair, regeneration, and wound healing. Additionally, it is a non-invasive therapy.
Laser skin treatment is used in the treatment of various skin conditions, including acne scars, eczema, and nail infections. It is also used to reduce the incidence of lines and wrinkles, brown spots, birthmarks, and scars. It works by focusing a concentrated beam of light on the area of the skin that is being treated.
Skin specialists now believe that most of the changes that we see on our skin as we grow older are due to the sun (sometimes referred to as “photodamage”). Since most of us are usually exposed to some amount of sun rays, these changes are nearly inevitable.
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Applications of laser skin treatments
There are various laser therapy applications effective in ensuring uniformity of skin tone and improving your complexion. They involve acne scar laser treatment, pigment spot removal, laser resurfacing and more. Also, they all utilize pulses of light energy to make your skin clearer.
Some of the applications of laser therapy include:
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Acne scar treatment
Laser resurfacing may not be recommended where there is acne on your face. However, laser therapy is effective in the treatment of acne scars, most preferably, the shallow ones.
Topical agents are commonly used in the management of acne. However, when they are not effective, a burst of light energy can be used. Just like laser skin resurfacing, laser therapy removes layers of the scar tissue to expose new unscarred skin underneath.
You might, however, need more than one session for the total removal of the scar tissue. Remember that although laser therapy is effective for acne scars, it cannot be used with active acne eruptions.
Related article: 7 Easy Tips to Be Acne Free
Visible vessels removal
Sometimes, various abnormalities of the blood vessels can be evident on the skin and present as bluish-purple colorations.
These colorations can also alter your complexion and make your skin tone uneven. Gladly, laser vein therapies are available to help.
The light energy is capable of going through the skin to fix it by somewhat destroying the vessels. No worries, they are really tiny vessels, and they do not supply your skin. This, in turn, reverses the discoloration and leaves you with a clear and even skin.
Removal of these vessels improves cosmetics and complexion without affecting the supply of blood to your skin.
Pigment spot removal
Melanocytes are the cells responsible for the production of melanin. This is a pigment substance found in the skin. The concentration of melanocytes in the skin determines your skin tone.
Sometimes, the concentration may vary from site to site, which might be significant enough to present as freckles, birthmarks, age spots, and more. Laser skin treatment effectively evens skin complexion by targeting these areas and destroying the melanocytes. This reduces the melanin in the area and makes it even like other body parts. A fresh and fairer skin emerges beneath as the body naturally filters out the dead or damaged cells.
This technique has also been found useful in removing tattoo inks.
The types of pigmented spots for which laser skin treatment can be used include:
They are flat brown or blackish discolouration on the skin with different sizes and shapes. It can be found on any part of the body.
These are caused by the deposition of pigments in the skin. They are flat brownish spotted discolorations.
This condition is also called chloasma. It exists in the form of brownish discolorations like patches on the face. Melasma is usually associated with pregnancy and sunlight exposure
Related article: Melasma Treatment – What is it and How is it Treated?
These are also called solar lentigines. They are very common tan Esque lesions that appear in ageing people who have fair skin and have spent a lot of time in the sun.
This is a reddish or purplish discoloration of the skin due to vascular malformation (Not melanocytes).
The goal of laser skin therapy is to remove the discoloration and or prevent the formation of new melanin in the area. It inevitably leaves you with an even tone and youthful-looking skin.
Pros and cons of pigmented spot removal
- Pigmented skin remover procedure can be carried out at any age with minimal pain associated. It also requires short recovery time.
- The only con is that it might, however, require more than one session.
Like sunlight, ageing also tells on the skin. The skin is an elastic tissue, and over time, this elasticity can be lost. This leaves you with a loose skin that forms wrinkles and fine lines.
A facelift can be used to fix this surgically. However, a facelift does not change the quality of the skin. This is why laser skin treatment is better recommended. The light energy is capable of stimulating the regeneration of collagen and other structural tissues. It also makes the skin more radiant and evens out your complexion.
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Laser skin resurfacing
This is the most popular form of laser therapy. Laser skin resurfacing removes damaged or dead skin cells with high specificity. Picture the peeling of the outer, dry part of an onion to reveal the fresh part. Similarly, laser skin resurfacing removes the damaged cells of the skin layer by layer to expose the new, fresh skins underneath.
In doing so, it solves a lot of skin issues. Laser skin resurfacing is effective for improving skin quality and texture. This helps your complexion as it also addresses pigmentation challenges.
There are two major laser types used for laser skin resurfacing. They are:
Most recently, versions of the CO2 laser deploy the use of ultra pulse. The name is derived based on the fact that the pulses of light energy are very short.
Some versions release continuous beams of light that gloss over the skin like a scanner. It takes up to 14 days for recovery. This is because it has a higher intensity. It is typically used for the removal of thin layers of damaged skin.
Erbium Laser Resurfacing
This is used for thicker layers of skin cells when compared to carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. In addition to the uses of CO2 laser resurfacing, Erbium laser can be used for eliminating moderately deep wrinkles.
It has the advantage of causing less damage to the surrounding tissue. Also, it has only a few side effects. Since there is less damage, there is improved but variable recovery time. Your doctor should be able to provide you with recovery time after the procedure.
Signs that you need laser resurfacing
Laser resurfacing might be recommended for you if you have wrinkles or fine lines around the lips, eyes or on the forehead, small scars after a facelift or if your skin is non-responsive.
It is, however, not advisable if:
- You have pimples
- You are dark-skinned
- You have stretch marks.
Related article: Using Laser to Stop the Aging Process: Skin Tightening
How to prepare for laser resurfacing
Consult with a beauty aesthetician to confirm if the procedure is recommended for you. You have to carefully search and evaluate your options before choosing an aesthetician to approach.
Check out the aestheticians training and experience before making a decision. Your beauty expert will consider your biodata, clinical details, indications, and expected results. Then the medical aesthetician will determine which laser resurfacing is best for you.
Inform your doctor if you usually have sores or blisters around the mouth, especially when you fall sick. This is important because the light energy can cause a new eruption if you are predisposed to it.
If you decide to go ahead with laser skin resurfacing, your doctor will ask you to avoid taking any medications or supplements that can affect clotting. This medication may include aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E supplements. This should be done for at least ten days before surgery.
Stop smoking at least fourteen days before the procedure. You should also do so for 14 days after the procedure. Consistent smoking can cause a delay in wound healing.
You should stay away from sunbathing, chemical peels, tanning beds, waxing, and collagen injections. Avoid these activities for at least two weeks before your treatment.
Avoid possible sources of irritation such as body sprays and perfumes, particularly, over the site to be treated with laser therapy.
Avoid blood-thinning agents, aspirin and other NSAIDs to ensure normal coagulation and prevent excessive bleeding. Prophylactic antibiotics might be prescribed for you. This prevents infections after the procedure.
Here are the things you should expect when you undergo laser resurfacing:
- Typically, you do not have to stay overnight for a laser resurfacing session as it is done on an outpatient basis.
- Most of the time, your aesthetician injects local anesthesia to numb the parts of the face that will undergo the treatment. However, general anesthesia can be used, especially if your whole face is being treated.
- The duration of the surgery largely depends on the area of the face being treated with the laser. It could range from 30 minutes to about 2 hours.
The treated area is covered up with a bandage. After 24 hours, the treated area will be cleaned up and dressed. It should be cleaned about five times daily.
You would need to apply petroleum jelly or any other suitable ointment regularly. This to keep the sites moist and prevent the formation of scabs, which is the goal of wound management.
In two or three weeks, the treated areas should have healed. However, this depends on the condition that was treated, the type of laser used, and the intensity of light energy.
It is possible to have mild facial swelling after the laser skin resurfacing procedure. Steroids may be prescribed to improve the swelling.
You can use an extra pillow to ensure your head is raised and reduce the swelling. An ice pack is recommended for the few days after the treatment. This will help reduce swelling. Also, it is normal to feel some itch and a mild prickly sensation until the third day after the laser resurfacing.
After the treated area heals, oil-free makeup can be used to reduce skin redness. Green-based makeup can also help conceal it. Do not be worried if the redness persists after three months. For people with fairer skin, the redness can last up to 6 months.
In addition to wearing a hat that can cover your skin, it is essential that you use appropriate sunscreen. You should pick a sunscreen with zinc oxide or any other physical blocker. It should be SPF 30 or greater. Furthermore, regulate the time you spend in the sun, particularly around midday. The newly revealed skin must be kept well moisturized.
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Possible risks of skin resurfacing
There are risks attached to the laser resurfacing procedure. However, most of these risks can be prevented by taking necessary precautions, a good beauty aesthetician and adhering to the recommendations. The possible complications include:
- Burns and blister formation
- Wounds might heal with some scarring
- Inconsistency in skin pigmentation
- Re-eruption of herpetic cold sores infection.
- The treated sites might become infected, especially if prophylactic antibiotics are not used as recommended.
- White bumps might erupt when the treated areas are healing. They are called Milia and are treatable. So, your doctor can recommend something for it.
Cost of Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing might not be covered by your health insurance because it is mostly regarded as a cosmetic procedure.
You should, however, confirm from your service provider. Sometimes, laser therapy is covered by insurance for conditions like a port-wine stain.
The cost of the procedure largely depends on the location the procedure is going to be done and the extent of treatment. It is, however, usually around $1,110 to $2,200, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
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Advantages of using laser therapy
Below are a few of the benefits of this treatment:
Inflicts little or no pain
Typically, laser therapy comes with a lot less pain than other treatment options for skin lesions. This means you will not have to be popping pills to reduce pain, unlike other methods.
Stimulates cell regeneration
The light energy used in laser therapy is absorbed by the mitochondria of your skin cells. The mitochondria can be described as the powerhouse of the cell. The cells are thus energized for regeneration and proliferation. This, in turn, promotes healing and wound repair. Your cells will also be equipped with energy for other cellular functions
Improves immune response
The immune response is the body’s reaction to a dangerous agent such as bacteria. Laser skin treatment is effective in stimulating the immune cells to fight infections.
Reduces facial swelling
Typically, most cosmetic procedures involving the skin of the face result in significant inflammation. However, it is not so with laser therapy. The light energy potentiates the actions of the lymphatic system and can improve the drainage of the treatment sites. This reduces the significance of swelling and inflammation.
Improves blood circulation
When used in the treatment of vascular conditions, the vessels are disintegrated. This allows for enough brood circulation around the region treated by disallowing the shunting and damming of blood in those capillaries.
Disadvantages of laser skin resurfacing
Laser skin treatment is not usually the first option for most skin conditions like acne scar removal.
It is typically used when other options, like topical agents, are not effective. Some of the reasons behind this are:
Laser skin treatment is quite expensive
The cost of laser treatment can put a lot of strain on your purse. This is because it is not usually covered by your health insurance.
Multiple sessions may be required
Depending on the skin condition for which the therapy is being used, you might need more than one visit to the clinic.
Laser skin treatment is fast becoming a widely used option for the management of skin conditions. It has the particular advantages of improving complexion, skin quality, stimulating healing and reducing scarring. Although it comes at a considerable cost, it is an excellent choice if you want to get that youthful look.