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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 but 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. 

Skin damages also occur due to other factors. For instance, acne can leave your facial skin looking blemished and unattractive. Similarly, mishaps or injury 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 and photodamages on our skin.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Explained 

Whether it's scars, blemishes, spots, or wrinkles, and fine lines on the face, laser resurfacing treatment offers a solution. Many people ask curiously, what is laser skin resurfacing?

How Does the Treatment Work?

Dr Chiam Chiak Teng of Ensoul Medical Clinic explains that in the treatment, lasers scrape away at skin layers, prompting the exposed, underlying skin layers to heal. The formation of new skin cells that takes place during the healing process, results in smoothed, toned, and youthful looking complexion.

During the treatment, light in the form of short, concentrated pulsating beams, is directed towards the treated area. The laser beam then begins working on the damaged or irregular skin surface by removing the skin layers – one at a time. Hence, it is also known as laser peel, laser vaporization, and lasabrasion. 

More About Skin Resurfacing Laser

The procedure is performed by a trained medical practitioner. Laser resurfacing treats both specific problem areas and 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 is applied for intensive treatment to ensure greater comfort. 

Types of Skin Resurfacing Lasers  

1. Ablative lasers: This treatment heats the dermis or underlying skin after exfoliating the targetted skin layer on the surface. The healing process that takes place thereafter results in collagen growth stimulation. Although patients can observe improvements after a single treatment session, there is a downtime of at least one to two weeks. 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 visible 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 reduce the appearances of fine lines, pigmentation, and mild wrinkles. The lasers 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 minimal 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 energy emitted 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.

Fix an appointment for consultation with our doctors to better 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.