Laser Skin Repair 101
Laser skin resurfacing has increased in popularity by almost 200 percent since 2000, according to the 2013 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with more than 500,000 such procedures formed in 2013 alone.
A significant part of the treatment's popularity can be traced to its varied uses in skin repair. The treatment uses a laser to send concentrated, pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, such as fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars, aged or damaged skin, and liver spots. The treatment allows for precise repair in delicate areas such as the eyes, forehead and mouth, making it a particularly desirable procedure for fine-tuning.
"The MicroLaser Peel treatment uses a laser beam to remove dead outer layers of skin and parts of the epidermis," explains Dr. Rupesh Jain, co-physician at the Institute of Plastic Surgery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "As the treated skin heals, you see removal of things like superficial age spots and freckles, as well as smooth, firmer skin."
Dr. Jain recommends patients interested in the MicroLaser Peel treatment have their skin evaluated by a plastic surgeon. "The MicroLaser treatment allows for refreshment of the skin with minimal down time. The procedure itself usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes," he says. It also doesn't take much out of the patient; Dr. Jain says most of the time patients can drive themselves home after the procedure.
Another laser treatment offered by the Institute of Plastic Surgery is a resurfacing that makes use of an advanced technology known as ProFractional Laser by Sciton.
"This treatment is particularly interesting because it delivers a narrow, almost a cone of laser energy into the surface of the skin," Dr. Jain says. "That actually lets the normal skin regenerate the lasered skin, and it allows for a quicker recovery. Because full-field laser resurfacing doesn't leave any normal skin intact, you have a longer recovery period."
Dr. Jain estimates the recovery from this type of procedure can be as short as two to three days, though if a stronger resurfacing is required, the recovery period can be longer. Another important aspect people should consider when evaluating the ProFractional treatment is the fact that it may have to be performed more than once depending on the patient's needs.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says on its website to expect itching and stinging for a few days after the procedure, describing the sensation of skin after as similar to the feeling of mild sunburn. In particular, the ASPS stressed the importance of sunscreen use each day.
Laser treatments are not limited to skin repairs, however. Dr. Jain says the small capillary vessels around the nose and the legs, as well as other parts of the body, can be treated with a laser. Hair removal is another popular use for laser treatment; according to the ASPS 2013 report, it was one of the top cosmetic minimally invasive procedures for 2013 at 1.1 million procedures.
"The versatility of the treatment is quite useful," Dr. Jain says. "And the benefits combined with the relative ease of the procedure make it ideal for anyone who wants to revitalize and rejuvenate their skin in a way that has a lasting impact."