Fractional Skin Resurfacing:
Fractional laser resurfacing only treats part of the skin leaving uninjured skin around the treatment site that acts as a barrier promoting quicker healing and faster recovery. Both fractional Er:Yag and CO2 lasers uses a matrix of microscopic laser beams each the size of a human hair to drill into the skin leaving much of the surrounding skin undisturbed. Because nearby cells are not damaged they are able to move into the microscopic injured area and promote rapid healing. The stimulation of a healing response leads to the formation of new collagen in the treated area. In addition to this ‘ablative’ effect on the skin’s surface, there is a ‘tightening’ effect on collateral collagen fibres and a resulting smoothing effect.
The Er:Yag 2940nm fractional laser is recommended for superficial and medium skin resurfacing with maximal penetration depths of 200 um (0.20mm) and downtime of approximately 2-3 days. It is also the laser of choice for skin resurfacing in darker skin types.
The CO2 10,600nm fractional laser is recommended for both superficial, medium and deep skin resurfacing with maximal penetration depths of 750um (0.75mm) Downtime ranges from 7-10 days. It is the laser of choice for lighter skin types with more severe imperfections.
Both traditional Er:Yag and CO2 lasers treat the entire skin’s surface removing the upper layers of skin to reveal the fresher more youthful skin beneath. Due to the need to commit to 10-14 days of intensive wound care, weeks of post-operative redness and risks of pigment change, fractional laser resurfacing is becoming a more popular choice.
Are there any side effects?
Heat build up occurs in the skin during the procedure and is managed with cold air gently directed over the epidermis. Redness of the skin usually occurs and lasts one to three days. (Make-up can be applied the following day). Expect very mild peeling to take place over the first week. Unlike traditional skin resurfacing, blistering and crusting does not usually occur for several days following the procedure. Dryness of the skin is treated using petroleum jelly, forming a seal that prevents further water loss. There is a very small risk of pigment change and scarring following treatment.
Immediately after treatment, most patients will experience redness (erythema) of the skin for 1-3 days, however for more aggressive treatments this may last longer. Slight to moderate swelling (oedema) and a mild to moderate sunburn sensation are also common post treatment and may last 1-3 days. After the second day, skin will appear as an exaggerated tan. Skin will begin to flake at 5-7 days. For more aggressive treatments vinegar soaks are prescribed morning and evening to aid cleansing of the skin.
Immediately following the procedure, dryness of the skin is treated using petroleum jelly, forming a seal that prevents further water loss. Petroleum jelly is reapplied by the client 3-4 times daily for 3-4 days.
Sun exposure is avoided for 3 months.
Skin Resurfacing Aftercare:
Post-operative care aims to keep the raw resurfaced skin moist, allowing quick regrowth of the epidermis. Open wound healing is recommended using occlusive ointments. Frequent applications and frequent washing with warm tap water keeps the wound clean as it heals. Mild ‘sunburn’ discomfort is expected. Itching may occur (this is a good side affect, as the skin is working hard to heal itself), mild crusting should not be picked off and healing is mainly complete at 7–10 days. You will be sent home with ‘home kit’ to be used for the first few days recovery. Following the initial phase the skin often remains pink. Make-up can be applied by day three (3), direct sun exposure should be avoided for three months, and sun block is advised. Complications include post-operative redness and itching, darkening of the skin (post-op hyper pigmentation) lasting on average 3 to 4 months and permanent lightening of the skin (hypo-pigmentation). This is easily controlled with topical products available in clinic, and all darker skins (Asian and above are expected to prep skin with clinic products for a minimum of two weeks prior to treatment).
Can all areas of the body be treated and does skin colour make a difference?
All areas of the body can be treated with fractional skin resurfacing but it should be emphasised that these techniques work best on facial skin. The neck, decollotege and face are the most regular areas to be treated, although it is very successful for stretch marked areas and loose skin especially post baby or weight loss.
How many treatments are needed?
Depending on the skin quality, in most cases one too two treatments within 3 months is satisfactory, although we do advise a ‘top up’ treatment for continued success yearly.
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