Lasers may have gained their popularity through science-fiction stories and action movies, but these powerful beams of light are so much more than pop-culture plot devices. Indeed, lasers are very real, and they’ve proven useful in several industries, including cosmetic dermatology. Today, various laser therapies are used to clear up acne scars, reduce facial lines and wrinkles, eliminate spider veins and stretch marks, and promote healthier-looking skin overall.
Of course, different lasers are used to different effect. And some laser therapies are more effective than others at achieving their stated purpose. If you’re thinking about undergoing a cosmetic laser procedure yourself, you want to know which ones are the best. Let’s discuss some of the different kinds of laser treatments for skin, their applications, and the best options for achieving healthy skin.
Before getting into the weeds of specific laser therapies, let’s explore their two main classifications: ablative and non-ablative laser.
“Ablation” refers to the removal of material via some destructive process. So, ablative lasers actually destroy some parts of the skin with the intention of encouraging the growth of new skin. The amount of skin removed depends on the patient’s skin type and personal needs. Different wavelengths of light penetrate the skin at different levels. Fractionated lasers have become more common in recent years. These ablative laser treatments remove only portions of the treatment area, allowing for deeper, safer penetration, improved results, and minimal complications or recovery time.
Ablative laser resurfacing is most commonly used to treat uneven skin tone, fine/moderate wrinkles, acne scars, sun damage, and age spots.
As you might imagine, non-ablative lasers do not destroy any layers of skin. Instead, these lasers heat the skin just enough to stimulate its natural production of collagen, an important protein that keeps skin strong and flexible. Because non-ablative treatments are fractionated and don’t destroy any skin, healing occurs quickly and patients are at less of a risk of complications. And while these lasers aren’t as powerful as ablative lasers, but they can still provide drastic, lasting results.
Like ablative laser resurfacing, non-ablative laser resurfacing is most commonly used to treat age spots, wrinkles, scars, and sun-damaged skin.
Now that we’ve gone over the two main types of laser resurfacing treatments, let’s discuss some of the best options for healthier-looking skin. Whether you’re looking for a powerful laser treatment for acne scars or you just want a brighter, firmer complexion, at least one of these options might interest you.
Fraxel Re:pair is an aggressive but relatively low-risk, FDA-approved ablative resurfacing procedure meant to reduce the appearance of severe acne scars, enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation, broken blood vessels, wrinkles, and other forms of visible skin damage.
As its name implies, Fraxel Re:store is less about “fixing” skin issues and more about restoring and/or promoting a healthier look for the skin. This is a non-ablative option that can improve the skin’s overall tone, color, and texture. One common application for Fraxel Re:store is laser stretch mark removal, though this procedure also reduces acne scarring, brown spots, wrinkles, and more.
This versatile laser has three wavelength emission options (532nm, 755nm, and 1064 nm), meaning it’s useful for treating a variety of cosmetic skin conditions. Not only does PicoSure address freckles, discoloration, and sun spots, but it can also be used for laser tattoo removal.
Those seeking laser therapy for spider veins can benefit from the VBeam Perfecta laser. This pulse-dye laser (PDL) has been proven to treat more than 20 skin indications, including leg veins, benign pigmented lesions, wrinkles, dyschromia, and even bruising.
While not exactly a laser treatment, IPL therapy can also enhance the skin’s appearance using light and heat energy. Unlike laser therapy which emits a single, continuous wavelength of light, an IPL procedure flashes several types of lights (broadband) to the skin at a lower intensity. Nevertheless, IPL therapies have been shown to reduce flushing from rosacea, eliminate several damages blood vessels, minimize skin discoloration and pigmentation, and more.
Dermatological researchers are constantly discovering new applications for lasers and coming up with safer, more effective laser resurfacing methods. The best treatments available today might pale in comparison to what’s to come in the years ahead. Still, modern laser treatments for skin are improving people’s complexions and lives each and every day. If you’re curious about any of the options mentioned here, or laser resurfacing in general, Premier Dermatology Partners has the resources and expertise to get you started.
To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.