Laser resurfacing treatments for sun damaged skin

Fractional Laser Resurfacing Treatment
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Sun damage is the most common cause of a number of skin irregularities. Exposure to harmful UV rays breaks down collagen synthesis and elastin fibers. As a result, your skin becomes saggy with visible signs of aging, particularly in the area around your eyes. Sun damage also manifests in the form of hyperpigmentation or discolored patches of the skin. Skin changes that occur due to sun damage are manageable and laser resurfacing emerges as an effective treatment option. How fractional laser resurfacing treatment works and are there any other laser options? This post provides a useful insight into the popular treatment option for sun damaged skin.

What is Laser Resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing is a type of treatment whose primary purpose is to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles and other skin irregularities. Besides managing sun damage, the treatment works to address acne scars and blemishes. The technique involves short, concentrated pulsating beams of light directed to the affected areas of skin. The laser removes* skin layer by layer in order to encourage the growth of new, healthier and more youthful skin.

How Laser Resurfacing Helps for Sun Damage?

The procedure itself is performed either in an outpatient surgical facility or hospital setting. Bearing in mind this is not an invasive procedure, a doctor will use local anesthesia only. Local anesthesia includes injection that numbs the area that will be treated soon. Depending on the type of laser procedure and other factors, a doctor or plastic surgeon may opt to use an oral sedative, but this is not the practice in all cases.

Then, the surgeon proceeds to use a special laser for the skin resurfacing treatment. He or she utilizes a controlled and precise beam of laser light to vaporize outer, sun-damaged layer of skin and reveal smooth, the youthful skin beneath it.

Laser resurfacing helps sun damage by eliminating the outermost layers of skin, affected by sun exposure, and stimulating the growth of new skin cells. Essentially, the procedure tricks your skin into believing it’s injured in order to make it repair itself without any harm done.

How Long Does the Procedure Last?

The first thing that came to your mind besides resurfacing laser treatment cost is the duration of the procedure. Right? Length of the treatment depends on whether it is partial or total. Partial laser resurfacing usually takes between 35 and 45 minutes while full treatment can take up to two hours.

Is Laser Treatment Safe?

Just like any other treatment, laser resurfacing for sun damaged skin carries certain risks. Although it doesn’t mean you’ll, actually, experience these risks it is still important to get informed. To reduce* the risk of side effects, it is important to choose certified and qualified doctor, get educated about the procedure, and ask your doctor all questions that you’re worried about. Let’s take a look at possible complications linked with this procedure:

  • Crusting
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Pain

How Much Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Cost?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average resurfacing laser treatment cost was $2330 for ablative and $1031 for the non-ablative procedure. Keep in mind this is just an average cost and prices may vary from one clinic or surgeon to another.

In many cases, the treatment price is based on expertise and qualifications of the doctor, the type of procedure, location of the office where treatment will be performed, and the amount time it will take to complete the treatment. The overall cost may include a prescription for medication, surgical facility costs, and anesthesia fees. In addition, health insurance usually does not cover the laser skin resurfacing expenses because it is considered as a cosmetic procedure.

However, if you’re undergoing a procedure to treat* pre-cancerous skin conditions or minimize the visibility of certain scars, the insurance may provide full or partial coverage. Before undergoing the procedure, feel free to consult with your health insurance provider about this subject.

Types of Laser Resurfacing

There are different types of laser skin resurfacing and although they have significant differences, the outcome is similar – vaporizing skin cells that are damaged at the surface level. Let’s take a look the most commonly used laser treatments.

CO2 laser resurfacing

This particular skin resurfacing method has been used to address a number of skin irregularities including scars, wrinkles, warts, enlarged oil glands on the nose, just to name a few. It is one of the most commonly used laser treatments for sun damaged skin. The latest version of CO2, widely known as fractionated laser resurfacing treatment, involves the use of ultrapulse, short pulsed light energy.

The ultrapulse is administered in a scanning pattern. The procedure removes* outer layers of the skin without exhibiting too much heat, thus minimizing the risks of complications. Full recovery is expected within two weeks.

Erbium laser resurfacing

Erbium lasers are more precise but less powerful than CO2 lasers treatments. They are particularly useful for addressing lines and wrinkles on face, hands, neck, and chest. This is especially practical if you bear in mind that most signs of aging on your body are a result of sun damage. The greatest advantage of erbium laser treatment is the minimal burning of surrounding tissue, meaning the recovery is faster than with the above-mentioned treatment option. Erbium lasers are a great option for men and women with darker skin due to a lower risk of pigmentation disturbances.

Fraxel laser resurfacing

Fraxel laser is an FDA-approved fractional laser resurfacing treatment that restores skin’s smoothness, youthful appearance, even tone, among other things. This is the most precise form of laser treatment thanks to its ability to treat* thousands of microscopic areas of skin using a pinpoint laser beams that penetrate deep into skin’s layers. The treatment works by stimulating body’s own healing process to replace damaged skin with healthy, glowing, and fresh skin. Although the recovery is fast, desired results are rarely achieved in a single treatment.

How Many Sittings are Required for Treatment?

When it comes to laser skin resurfacing, there is no “one size fits all” rule in terms of a number of treatments. The amount of procedures depends on the severity of sun damage or some other irregularity you want to fix. For example, fine lines or wrinkles and minor skin discolorations you may need one or two treatments to achieve desired results. Deeper or more pronounced wrinkles require additional treatments (more than two).

If you consider laser skin resurfacing, you won’t be kept in dark. During consultations with a dermatologist, you will find out the number of treatments that will be necessary to minimize wrinkles, discolorations, and other signs of aging.

Conclusion

Skin is exposed to sun and its harmful UV rays on a daily basis. Long-term exposure, particularly if protection isn’t involved, accelerates the formation of signs of aging and causes many other types of damage. A great way to minimize the appearance of wrinkles and discolorations is via laser resurfacing. The procedure improves* skin healing and makes it smoother and youthful. Different types of procedures are available including CO2, erbium, and fractional laser resurfacing treatment. The number of procedures required for desired results and the overall cost varies.

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Expert Author : Linda Daniels (Consumer Health Digest)

Linda Daniels is a true creative force, having worked as a seasoned writer, editor and consultant in the fashion and beauty industries. Connect with Linda on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.