From ancient Egyptian and classical Greek civilizations up to the present, people have tried to prevent or reverse skin aging. Through the ages, topical products and various procedures have been used in an attempt to improve skin appearance. Various environmental factors such as the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and smoking damage the skin’s DNA. These factors combined with one’s heredity and loss of skin elasticity lead to the typical appearance of aged skin, marked by fine and coarse wrinkles, dryness, and multiple scattered pigmented spots.
As we and our skin age, the smooth, lustrous appearance of youth is replaced by a duller, rougher, more sallow complexion.
If you have looked at yourself in the mirror and think that
facial aging causes you to look much older than you actually feel, then laser skin resurfacing may help you regain a more youthful appearance.
There are a number of options when it comes to rejuvenating the appearance of your face. One of the latest is called laser resurfacing, which has the ability to remove and reduce facial wrinkles, scars and blemishes. Due to new laser technologies, your plastic surgeon has an advanced level of control when performing laser resurfacing, which allows for extreme precision, especially in delicate areas.
Laser skin resurfacing, also known as laser peel and laser vaporization, uses light beams. We are able to use the laser to send short beams of light to all areas of irregular skin. In turn, it will remove unwanted, damaged skin, one layer at a time. This targeted approach results in fewer problems with hypo pigmentation, also known as a lightening of the skin.
The laser beam will remove the outer layer of skin, called the epidermis, and in some cases, part of the underlying dermis. Furthermore, it will simultaneously heat the deeper dermis. This will stimulate growth of new collagen fibers. The treated area will heal, allowing new, smoother and firmer skin to form with a smoother complexion. Think of a woodworker sanding a piece of wood to remove the outer layers marred by scratches and discoloration. In this case, the surgeon is using an intense beam of light to remove the damaged skin layers, to allow a smoother skin surface to heal.
Laser resurfacing can improve minor facial flaws such as fine lines and wrinkles, scars, aged and sundamaged skin, liver spots, warts, birthmarks and more.
For best results, we may start you on a series of skin treatments to prepare for the procedure. These treatments often begin 6 weeks before your scheduled laser resurfacing treatment and may include application of Retin A (topical vitamin A) and a bleaching agent. Also, to prevent infection during healing, Dr. Schwartz always prescribes certain antibiotic and antiviral medication.
The laser resurfacing procedure is done on an outpatient basis and usually takes between 20 minutes and 1 hour.
The process can be painful. For that reason, your surgeon may numb the surrounding skin with local anesthetics and/or apply a topical anesthetic cream. The upper and lower lips are frequently treated in this manner. Furthermore, he may issue a sedative, which will help you relax. Dr. Schwartz may choose to use general anesthetic if you are opting for more extensive resurfacing or a deeper, stronger laser treatment. Afterwards, your doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable.
This procedure usually involves two types of lasers: carbon dioxide and erbium. Both are used to vaporize superficial or damaged skin cells. The newer fraxel laser allows a much milder treatment with very fast healing over just a few days. In some cases, the carbon dioxide or erbium elements are added to the laser to create a slightly deeper treatment when indicated.
When the procedure has been completed, Dr. Schwartz will apply a dressing to protect the treated tissue. Dressing changes or specialized topical ointments may be used to enhance healing.
Laser resurfaced skin can react in different ways, and this really depends on the type of laser used and the depth or strength of treatment. However, at the least, with a superficial treatment, it will feel like a mild sunburn with some redness and then subsequent flaking/peeling of skin over a few days. With deeper treatments, there may be seepage from the skin surface, which can form crusting. Although there usually isn’t much pain, it is likely you will see redness and swelling, as well as experience itching and mild stinging lasting up to a few days after the procedure. Over a varying time period of 5 days up to 14 days, again depending on the type and strength of treatment, all crusting or flaking will come of and you will see new, pinker and smoother skin appear.
It is possible that your skin may stay red or pink for a few weeks up to several months after laser skin resurfacing, again depending your particular treatment. With all of these aspects of healing, a milder fraxel laser treatment will result in quicker healing with less temporary discoloration. You may also be extra sensitive to sunlight for up to a year. Your surgeon will urge you to minimize sun exposure and use sunscreen consistently. Immediate results can be present in some cases while others can continue to change and improve within a year after surgery. While the effects of laser resurfacing can last for many years, the normal aging process will continue to occur. Laser resurfacing can be repeated as necessary.
Choosing a surgeon you can trust may be the most important decision after determining you are ready for a laser resurfacing procedure. Dr. Schwartz is a board certified plastic surgeon and has been practicing plastic and cosmetic surgery in West Palm Beach, FL for over 25 years. He is considered one of the best plastic surgeons in Palm Beach County, FL.
Please call 561-232-3120 or schedule a consultation online for more information on the laser skin resurfacing procedure if you are interested in recreating a more youthful facial complexion.