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What is Laser Skin Resurfacing?

How to choose the best skin resurfacing laser treatment for your face 

If you’ve been spending sleepless nights over your dull, lifeless looking skin, a spot of laser skin resurfacing is just what the doctor may order for you! Apart from being the largest organ of our body, the skin faces the most exposure to external factors such as the weather and pollution. Under the circumstances, it’s natural that the facial skin faces the brunt of the damage. The result is roughening of the skin, wrinkles, furrows, fine lines. In short, skin that’s no longer a pleasure to feel or a joy to behold. If only I turn back the clock just a wee bit, you wish fervently.     

Skin damage can also occur due to other factors. For instance, skin conditions such as acne can leave your facial skin looking blemished and irritated. Similarly, mishaps or injury, can or even injuries can leave you with scars. How you wish there were a magic wand to clear away your facial skin troubles!   

Fortunately, the strides in science and technology have allowed us to realize our dreams of reversing the effects of ageing on our facial skin. Today, you can literally walk into an aesthetic medical clinic, and walk out a changed person – face rejuvenated, toned skin, wrinkle-free, elasticity restored, and self-confidence regained. 

Laser Skin Resurfacing Explained

Whether it's scars, blemishes, spots, or wrinkles, and fine lines on the face, laser resurfacing treatment offers a solution that gives good results, is fast and relatively comfortable. Many people ask curiously, what is laser skin resurfacing? Dr Chiam Chiak Teng of Ensoul Medical Clinic explains that in the treatment, lasers scrape away at skin layers with precision, prompting the exposed, underlying skin layers to heal. The formation of new skin cells that takes place during the healing process, results in the skin acquiring a smooth, toned, and relatively younger look. 

During the treatment, light in the form of short, concentrated pulsating beams, is directed with precision towards the problem area. The laser beam then begins working on the damaged or irregular skin surface by removing the skin layers – one at a time. Laser skin resurfacing goes by several names, such as laser peel, laser vaporization, and lasabrasion. 

The procedure, handled by a doctor specializing in aesthetic skin treatments, does not involve staying overnight in a hospital. Laser resurfacing procedures can treat both specific problem areas and even the entire face. Specific problem areas include wrinkles on the forehead and fine lines around the eyes or mouth, also known as laugh lines or nasolabial folds.  

The overall treatment may take around 15mins to two hours to complete, depending on the type of resurfacing treatment. A topical numbing cream may be applied for more intensive treatment.  

Types of Skin Resurfacing Lasers  

1. Ablative lasers: This treatment heats the dermis or underlying skin after precisely scraping away the required skin layer on the surface. The healing process that takes place thereafter results in collagen growth stimulation. Although patients can observe drastic improvements after a single treatment session, there is a downtime of at least one to two weeks involved. In the recovery phase, patients experience slight discomfort due to the invasive nature of the technique. Usually, ablative laser treatments are prescribed for people with deep facial scars or suffering from significant facial ageing. People looking for dramatic results and can afford the downtime may opt for ablative laser treatments.  

2. Non-ablative lasers: These are non-invasive in nature and ideal for enhancing skin tone and texture. They can also erase fine lines, pigmentation, and mild wrinkles. The lasers help stimulate collagen growth under the skin, giving skin a refreshed and enhanced look and feel. The procedures are less painful than ablative laser and are ideal for people suffering relatively mild levels of skin damage. The low downtime of this treatment makes them popular with people who have a lower threshold of pain. Some examples of non-ablative lasers include 755nm Alexandrite picosecond laser, long-pulsed Nd: Yag, Intense Pulsed Light or IPL, etc.  

Non-ablative laser devices operate at very narrow wavelengths capable of subjecting skin tissues to controlled temperatures while preventing water evaporation. The rising temperature of the tissue then stimulates the generation of new collagen. The freshly generated collagen lends a youthful appearance to the skin. Since there is no ablation or evaporation of skin tissues involved in the process, there is little to no downtime and is suitable for a ‘lunchtime procedure’. 

Skin Resurfacing Laser Devices 
  • CO2 Laser: In vogue for many years, this type of ablative laser is used to treat a variety of skin issues such as wrinkles, warts, scars, and enlarged pores. Fractionated CO2 laser emits light energy in ultra-pulse or very short pulse frequency mode. The device is gradually moved over the treatment area in a broad scanning pattern. The energy precisely removes the skin’s thin layers without damaging the tissues. Some of the side effects of this laser machine include the potential risk of Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, also known as PIH, due to the ablative nature of the treatment. 

  • Erbium Laser: Effortlessly erases surface-level irregularities, as well as moderate lines and wrinkles developing on areas such as the face, neck, chest, and hands. Erbium laser brings the advantage of causing minimal burning to the skin tissues adjoining the treatment zones. That is why recovery is faster in patients undergoing this laser resurfacing therapy. While recovery times can vary from person to person with this ablative laser treatment, patients can begin to see results within a week. 

  • Picosecond Nd:YAG or Alexandrite Laser: Of late, these replace the long-pulsed ND YAG lasers used predominantly for non-ablative laser treatments. Pico lasers in 532nm, 755 and 1064 nm wavelengths provide an effective option for non-ablative treatments.   
Is Laser Skin Resurfacing Meant for You? 

Laser resurfacing is suitable for people of almost all skin types especially for individuals who is suffering from skin concerns such as mild to moderate scarring, blemishes, spots, or wrinkles, and fine lines. "However, your doctor can only advise you on the options after a detailed examination and consultation session" Dr Chiam Chiak Teng advised. When you visit Ensoul Medical Clinic, you get to personally understand the uniqueness of your skin condition and the potential laser resurfacing treatments available to you. Remember, using the right treatment can effectively treat your skin concern, speak to your doctor to learn more about the types of treatment suitable for you.