Know your options: Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is a treatment to reduce facial wrinkles and skin irregularities, such as blemishes or acne scars.

The technique directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, precisely removing skin  layer by layer. This popular procedure is also called lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization.

Who Is a Good Candidate For Laser Resurfacing?

If you have fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, shallow scars from acne, or non-responsive skin after a facelift, then you may be a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing.

If you have active acne or if you have very dark skin, you may not be a candidate. This technique is also not recommended for stretch marks. You should discuss whether laser resurfacing is right for you by consulting with the doctor before having the procedure done.

How Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Work?

The two types of lasers most commonly used in laser resurfacing are carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium. Each laser vaporizes skin cells damaged at the surface-level.

CO2 Laser Resurfacing

This method has been used for years to treat different skin issues, including wrinkles, scars, warts, enlarged oil glands on the nose, and other conditions.

The newest version of CO2 laser resurfacing uses very short pulsed light energy (known as ultrapulse) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage. Recovery takes up to two weeks.

 Erbium Laser Resurfacing

Erbium laser resurfacing is designed to remove surface-level and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on the face, hands, neck, or chest. One of the benefits of erbium laser resurfacing is minimal burning of surrounding tissue. This laser causes fewer side effects — such as swelling, bruising, and redness — so your recovery time should be faster than with CO2 laser resurfacing. In some cases, recovery may only take one week Ask your doctor how long recovery is likely to take for you.

If you have a darker skin tone, erbium laser resurfacing may work better for you.

Microdermabrasion & dermabrasion 

With dermabrasion, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon “sands” your skin with a special instrument. The procedure makes way for a new, smoother layer of skin to replace the skin that’s been treated.

Microdermabrasion uses tiny exfoliating crystals that are sprayed on the skin. It works best on problems such as dull skin, brown spots, and age spots.Dermabrasion was developed to improve acne scars, pox marks, and scars from accidents or disease. It’s not effective in treating congenital skin defects, most moles, pigmented birthmarks, or scars caused by burns.

Dermabrasion is generally only safe for people with fair skin. For people with darker skin, dermabrasion can result in scarring or discoloration.

Microdermabrasion works on all skin types and colors. It makes subtle changes, causing no skin color change or scarring. It is not effective for deeper problems such as scars, stretch marks, wrinkles, or deep acne scars.

With microdermabrasion, there is less down time than with dermabrasion. Skin is temporarily pink but fully recovers within 24 hours. It doesn’t require surgery or anesthetics. That may help people who cannot take “down time” for healing. Dermabrasion is done in the doctor’s office. You may get medication to relax you before the procedure starts. Your skin will be thoroughly cleansed, and you’ll get shots of numbing medicine to anesthetize the area to be treated.

The doctor will use a high-speed instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush to remove the outer layers of your skin and improve any irregularities in your skin’s surface.

In microdermabrasion, tiny crystals are sprayed onto the skin to gently remove the outer layer of your skin. This technique is less aggressive than dermabrasion, so you don’t need numbing medicine. It is basically an exfoliation and skin rejuvenation procedure that leaves skin looking softer and brighter.

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