Skin rejuvenation is a beautiful frontier. As we age, our face and décolleté show signs of sun damage, dehydration, thinning skin and all our experiences from mountain climbing to laughing. While face lifts were once the only choice, there are now many options for diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. There are a variety of options for refreshing one’s appearance. Skin rejuvenation is often the way to go when one looks “tired” or washed out.
ABLATIVE VS. NON-ABLATIVE
The basic difference between ablative and non-ablative treatments is that ablative lasers remove the top layer of skin, while non-ablative lasers work by heating up the underlying skin tissue (without harming the surface) so that your body will produce new collagen.
Ablative Laser Resurfacing
Ablative lasers are more invasive, making them a great option for treating mild to moderate wrinkles, facial scaring and skin discoloration.
Dramatic improvements can generally be seen after a single treatment, but most patients need two weeks or more of recovery time. During recovery, it’s common to experience some discomfort accompanied by swelling, oozing and crusting of the skin.
Ablative laser resurfacing is the best choice for patients who:
- Show signs of significant facial aging
- Have deep or pitted facial scars
- Want to see significant results fast
- Can take time off from work to recover
- Non-Ablative Laser Resurfacing
Meanwhile, non-ablative lasers are best at improving skin texture and tone. In some cases they may also be used to improve the appearance of fine lines, mild wrinkles and pigmentation issues as well. Several separate treatments are usually needed to see significant results, but recoveries are generally mild (especially when compared to ablative treatments). Other than some mild redness or swelling, the skin is not visibly affected, and most patients can resume normal routines right away.
Non-ablative laser resurfacing is the best choice for patients who:
- Are relatively young (between 25 and 65 years of age)
- Have mild to moderate signs of aging (with minimal skin sagging)
- Are willing to undergo multiple treatments before seeing results
- Can’t afford to take time off from work
Both a micro laser peel and a chemical peel are used to treat skin conditions associated with aging and active lifestyles such as:
- Mild wrinkles
- Smile lines
- Keratosis (pre-cancerous legions)
- Sun damage
- Uneven pigmentation
They work by removing damaged outer layers of skin to improve skin texture to give the complexion a more youthful, vibrant glow. Both procedures are ideal for patients who want lasting results, with minimal downtime or post-treatment care.
Micro Laser Peel: A micro laser peel uses laser technology to resurface the skin. During treatment, a laser hand piece is used to scan over the treatment areas. A very thin layer of skin is removed and damaged cells are destroyed. The entire procedure generally lasts 15 to 30 minutes and most patients experience little or no discomfort.
The healing process varies from patient to patient, but generally lasts between two and four days. During recovery, it’s common to feel as though your skin has been sunburned. It will appear pink or red, and it’s likely that you will experience some minor peeling. Your laser peel before and after results will depend on the depth of your laser peel. Results are immediate, but multiple micro laser peels are usually needed to achieve desired results. They can be performed four to six weeks apart.
Chemical Peel: A chemical peel uses a chemical solution (usually acid-based) to remove outer layers of skin. Chemical peels are divided into superficial, medium, and deep peels. Deep phenol chemical peels (which usually require significant downtime) have almost entirely been replaced by laser resurfacing. While light-to-medium peels remain a popular way to refresh the skin.
Once the chemical solution has been applied to the face, treatment usually lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. Light chemical peels essentially have zero downtime, but thus require multiple treatments to see dramatic improvements. Heavier chemical peels will cause your skin to appear red and swollen for a few days. Over the course of a week, the skin will become crusty and eventually start to flake and peel. Significant improvements are noticeable after a single treatment, but more than one may be necessary to achieve desired results.
Whatever your choice, shop around. Ask for references. Meet the doctor or practitioner performing the treatment. Make sure that you are comfortable with the expected results, price, downtime and safety protocols. Expect to look refreshed and as young as you feel.