Laser Skin Resurfacing

Skin resurfacing can produce some of the most wonderful changes for skin problems including wrinkles, scars, pigment irregularities, sun damage and poor complexion. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion among patients as to what type of resurfacing procedure is necessary to accomplish the desired improvement. There are a lot new procedures being advertised and many are promising the world with no downtime. In some situations, these claims are valid, in others they are not. When it comes to wrinkles, scars, and advanced sun damage, only true resurfacing procedures will accomplish the goals of most people.

To simplify matters, skin resurfacing is best categorized by depth of resurfacing: ultra-superficial, superficial, medium, and deep. There are three basic means to resurface skin: laser, dermabrasion, and peel with each capable of resurfacing at any depth. The degree of improvement is directly related to the depth of resurfacing, as is the time of recovery.

The ultra-superficial resurfacing requires less than a day to recover from and includes procedures such as micro-dermabrasion and light glycolic peels. These procedures brighten and soften skin and improve mild pigmentation problems. The results usually last a few weeks and as such require regularly scheduled visits to maintain the improvement. This is a true “lunchtime” procedure.

Superficial resurfacing is best accomplished using our Scition erbium laser adjusted to remove just the top layer of skin. This is also called a “micro” peel and produces a very nice improvement in complexion, tone, and pigment irregularities. This peel takes a day or two to recover from, however makeup can be worn during recovery. The effects last a couple of months and therefore are generally part of a maintenance regimen. A series of these treatments combined with bleaching creams and retin-A produces long lasting improvement in your skin.

Medium depth resurfacing is the best way to treat early wrinkles as well as more advanced pigment and texture problems such as Melasma and acne scars. These peels are done with the Sciton erbium laser and can be expected to make permanent improvements in your skin. A medium depth peel is typically done as a single peel and requires about one week of healing time. This is a very popular peel because of the dramatic improvement with a still reasonable healing time. The effects of this peel are long lasting, though you may want to repeat a peel like this every year or two to keep your skin fresh.

Deep peels are the gold standard of skin resurfacing. With a deep peel dramatic improvement in wrinkles, pigmentation problems, surface irregularities, and scars is achieved. Most people are familiar with the carbon dioxide laser for this purpose; however, the Sciton erbium laser produces comparable results with shorter healing times. You should expect two weeks of healing before wearing make-up and about six weeks for total healing. This type of peel is not typically repeated except perhaps many years later.

In addition to resurfacing procedures, there are other laser procedures that can remove pigmented spots and visible red or blue blood vessels. Afterward, you can immediately return to your normal daily activities with perhaps only a bit of pinkness in the treated area.

The effectiveness of all types of resurfacing can be dramatically improved with concomitant use of Botox.

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Before and After medium depth laser peel. Note the reduction in pigmentation problems as well as fine lines and texture irregularities. This peel has about a one week healing time. Photos taken without make-up (except permanent cosmetics to eyebrow/eyeliner/lips) and with identical photographic equipment and settings.