When you know more about lasers, you can redefine your beauty routine. By basic definition, a laser produces an intense and thin beam of monochromatic light. This type of illumination excites the skin’s molecules and atoms. Therefore, lasers are used to rejuvenate the skin as well as permanently remove hair by destroying the hair’s bulb or follicle with heat. Laser, itself, is an acronym for the words – light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.

Energy based lasers do more than illuminate a home or power a car. They also offer incredible opportunities for people to look their best and fight off the natural aging process. Not only can laser light reverse the signs of aging, it can smooth out wrinkles and fine lines by ablative and non-ablative means.

Lasers, in the cosmetic and beauty field, often are used to resurface the skin – improving the skin’s appearance and correcting minor blemishes. As indicated, cosmetic and dermatological practitioners use two types of lasers for this type of skin renewal.


What is an ablative laser?

An ablative laser removes the think epidermal or outer layer of skin while heating the secondary or dermal layer. In turn, the process stimulates the growth of collagen. As the outer layer, or epidermis, heals, it starts to look tighter and smoother. Types of ablative lasers include the CO2 laser, the erbium laser, or a combination to these two therapies. Because the skin must heal after the laser is used, an ablative laser is known as a “wounding” laser.

What is a non-ablative laser?

A non-ablative laser stimulates the growth a collagen, but does not wound the skin. This type of laser is less invasive than an ablative laser and therefore requires less recovery time. Because this technology is gentler, it is also less effective than a non-ablative laser. Non-ablative skin resurfacing is often performed using yellow laser, picosecond laser or IPL.

How does a fractional laser work?

Both non-ablative and ablative therapies can be delivered with a fractional laser – a laser that leaves microscopic columns of untreated tissue. As a result, a fractional laser, when used, shortens recovery times and reduces the risk of side effects.

What can laser resurfacing do and what can it not do?

Laser resurfacing can be used to reduce or eliminate the appearance of facial lines and treat dull skin or skin that displays sun damage or scars. However, you cannot use laser resurfacing to eliminate sagging skin. Usually, a cosmetic surgeon or another skin care professional will recommend a face lift if a patient has noticeable sagging.

What are some of the side effects from using an ablative laser?

The side effects from ablative and non-ablative treatments differ and therefore can result in separate and varying reactions. For example, side effects from using an ablative laser may include the following:

  • Swelling, itching, and redness may be experienced. Sometimes the redness may last several months.
  • Milia, or tiny white bumps, may appear on the skin if you apply a thick cream after treatment. If you have acne, the condition can worsen.
  • Ablative procedures may trigger bacterial or viral infections, such as a flare-up of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) – or a strain of the virus that produces cold sores.
  • Changes in skin color can result from ablative resurfacing, which causes the treated area to darken (hyperpigmentation) or lighten (hypopigmentation). Permanent changes in skin color are more likely to occur to people with darker skin.
  • In rare instances, ablative skin resurfacing may lead to permanent scarring.
  • In some very rare instances, ablative therapy, when performed close to the lower eyelid, can lead to the condition of ectropion – causing the eyelid to turn out and expose the eye’s inner surface.

What are the side effects associated with non-ablative lasers?

Because non-ablative laser treatments are less aggressive, the side effects, when they happen, are less severe. Following are some of the major side effects.

  • Like ablative laser resurfacing, non-ablative therapy can cause a flare-up of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), or cause cold sores to emerge.
  • Hyperpigmentation may result from non-ablative laser treatments.
  • Patients experience mild redness and swelling, which lasts a few hours to a couple days.

When should laser therapy be avoided?

While lasers are used to treat the skin and keep it looking smooth and young, it cannot always be recommended. For example, you cannot undergo the procedure if you have taken certain acne medications in the prior year. These medicines include brands, such as Amnesteen, Myorisan, and Claravis, which represent the medication isotretinoin.

Laser therapy may also not be advised for anyone who has a tendency toward scarring, has previously received radiation therapy to the face, is prone to cold sores, has a darker skin tone, or who is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Will I receive an anesthetic before surgery?

Yes, most of these procedures include topical numbing.

How do I prepare for laser treatments?

To prepare for laser treatment, a doctor will ask about your medical history, including the medications you have taken and are currently taking. He or she will also examine the skin that will be treated. The tone and thickness of the epidermis will be evaluated to determine the possible results. Also, you will also discuss your expectations with the doctor, and go over the potential risks.

Before you begin laser treatments, you may be asked to take an anti-viral medicine if you have problems with herpes infections around the mouth. You will also be asked to avoid overexposure to the sun and to wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you smoke, you will be instructed to stop at least two weeks before the procedure and refrain from the habit one week after the treatment. Arranging a ride home, after the procedure, should be done as well.


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