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ANTIAGING TREATMENTS: FACIAL

Laser Resurfacing


Lasers are currently the most effective exfoliation tools for eliminating wrinkles, mainly due to their unique ability to tighten the skin. Successful procedures can result in patients looking 10 - 20 years younger, lasting up to 10 years.

Various types of lasers are used depending on skin type and severity of the condition:

The carbon dioxide (CO2) laser is the most powerful laser treatment and is used for deep wrinkles and skin imperfections. NOTE: Do not use over areas which have had silicone injections as the laser can burn and scar the skin over the implanted area.

The erbium:YAG (Er:YAG) pulse laser is gentler than the CO2 and is effective for mild wrinkles although many physicians claim it can be as effective in removing deep wrinkles as CO2 when used to sufficient depth. It generally has fewer side effects than CO2 laser therapy.

The gentlest laser procedure is the non-ablative laser resurfacing (NLite). Also known as photo-rejuvenation, NALR is approved for the treatment of all facial wrinkles using light energy to gently stimulate new collagen, and possibly elastin, without removing the skin tissue itself. Its effects are less pronounced than those of other laser procedures, however, it can be used on delicate skin areas, such as the neck and around the eyes and causes very little irritation afterward.

Hence, the laser type used and the effect of the procedure varies depending upon the facial area in which it is used:

  • Around the mouth and eyes - CO2 lasers may be better than Dermabrasion for the upper lip.
  • Around the nose - slightly less beneficial.
  • Does not eliminate crow's feet, broken blood vessels, or dark circles under the eye.
  • Too harsh for thinner skin layers, such as on the neck. Newer and gentler laser techniques, however, stimulate collagen without taking off skin layers and may prove to be useful for necklines.
  • Acne scars – benefits are as yet unknown.

 

The Laser Resurfacing Procedure

  1. The Laser pulses painlessly penetrate the skin quickly, vaporizing water and surface skin without damaging the deeper layers.
  2. New top skin grows, and if enough heat is applied to shorten collagen fibres, it also restores some elasticity to the skin.
  3. Some surgeons are using combination techniques that employ more than one laser technology in one session to achieve different effects. For example, one combination technique uses CO2, YAG, pulsed-dye laser, and one other laser technology to both improve wrinkles and clear under-eye dark circles and acne scarring.

Pre-treatment of Botox [botulinum] injections can be used, especially effective in the treatment of crows feet.

 

Post-Procedure Recovery

Redness and irritation occur during the healing process, and can be severe. (Non-ablative laser resurfacing does not have the same severe after effects as other laser treatments.)

For 8-10 days, the face is raw swollen, requiring continuous moisturizing. A certain degree of redness and sensitivity can persist for one to four months, hence the patient must refrain from sunlight exposure during this period. Silicone dressings may be used to reduce post-procedure pain and crusting.

 

Complications

  • Scarring and infections can occur in about 1% of procedures, with risk increasing or decreasing depending on the experience of the surgeon.
  • People with a history of herpes simplex may experience flare-ups of fever, facial pain, and flu-like symptoms for five or six days afterward.
  • It can cause unpredictable and dramatic lightening of the skin in darker skin types.
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