Laser Skin Resurfacing
Treating Advanced Sun Damage in Marco Island and Naples, Florida
Fractional lasers are ideal for use in anti-aging treatment plans, but advanced cosmetic sun damage requires a more dramatic solution: laser skin resurfacing. Naples and Marco Island-based Skin Wellness Physicians uses the more intense option for women and men who want significant improvement of their facial skin that has been impacted by ultraviolet radiation.
While collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin break down naturally over time, sunlight accelerates the destruction of these molecules that, when abundant, allow the skin to be flexible, pliable, firm, and smooth. Ultraviolet radiation can cause visible spots and wrinkles to form much sooner than they would otherwise, as well as make them appear more severe. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, an unhealthy diet, stress, and exposure to pollutants also worsen skin quality. Laser skin resurfacing can help with all of this by replacing the damaged outer surface with younger, healthier cells.
What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?
Since many cosmetic problems sit in the topmost layer of skin, the solution to softening and fading these unwanted lines and spots lies in removing that layer so a younger, fresher layer can be seen.
The dermatologists at Skin Wellness Physicians use erbium or CO2 laser skin resurfacing to ablate—or remove—the outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis. Not only does this remove the cells that show signs of damage and aging with precision, it also prompts the generation of new collagen and skin cells. This improves the overall tone and texture of the skin.
Laser skin resurfacing works by emitting focused light to target the thin, outermost layer. Cells in the skin absorb this light, generating heat that ultimately causes the top layer to peel away and prompts cell turnover and collagen generation in the layers below.
Laser skin resurfacing is generally safe and effective for most skin tones, but you can discuss any concerns about hyperpigmentation during your consultation.
What Can Laser Skin Resurfacing Treat?
Laser skin resurfacing is ideal for reducing the appearance of mild to moderate lines and wrinkles on the face, as well as tightening the skin so that it is not as loose. Laxity is the result of age-related collagen loss, as well as healthy fat depletion and a reduction in elastin and other important molecules in the skin. Sun exposure can make the problem worse, since ultraviolet radiation also causes collagen and more to break down, leading premature signs of aging to develop.
Different lasers are designed for addressing different concerns. CO2 laser skin resurfacing is used to treat common age-related skin conditions like fine wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, enlarged oil glands, mild to moderate acne scars, and other, more severe skin irregularities. The results are more dramatic, but require more downtime than erbium lasers, which offer more subtle improvements and treat milder signs of aging.
Laser skin resurfacing can penetrate the skin more deeply and target specific issues in a way that wouldn’t be possible with topical products. The treatment improves how the skin is "draped," which can positively impact facial contours in addition to tone.
How Can You Prepare for Laser Skin Resurfacing?
If you tend to have breakouts of cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth, it's important to discuss this condition—as well as any other chronic conditions—when you go over your complete medical history during the consultation. Laser skin resurfacing can be a powerfully effective treatment for many people, but those who have skin that is prone to scars, are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a weak immune system may be encouraged to consider other options.
Once you've consulted with a dermatologist and determined that you're a suitable candidate for laser skin resurfacing, you may be asked to avoid certain medications and supplements—in consultation with a primary care physician—before the procedure, as well as to quit smoking several weeks in advance to reduce the risk of complications. Certain supplements can sometimes cause the skin to have a bad reaction to laser skin resurfacing.
Patients should also avoid more intense face procedures like deep chemical peels and microdermabrasion for at least a month before laser skin resurfacing, as well as refrain from intense sun exposure in the days before a treatment. Tanning can make the treatment less effective and cause more discomfort, since the darker-pigmented cells will absorb more of the laser energy as heat.
What is a Laser Skin Resurfacing Session Like in Florida?
Erbium lasers are less intense and are used for a more shallow treatment, while CO2 lasers can penetrate deep layers for a more dramatic improvement. The intensity of the treatment and other factors will determine how long a session takes, as well as what sensations will be experienced during the laser skin resurfacing appointment. Some people describe laser skin resurfacing as being similar to the stinging sensation of a rubber band snapping, but an individual’s experience depends on his or her pain tolerance and the area being targeted.
An anesthetic will be used to minimize sensation in the treatment area during the session. Talk to the dermatologist during the initial consultation to find out what specifically can be done to maximize comfort throughout the laser skin resurfacing process.
What Happens After a Laser Skin Resurfacing Session?
Patients can return home the same day as their laser skin resurfacing treatment because it's an outpatient procedure. It is still necessary to take measures to protect sensitive skin while it is healing. Despite being a non-surgical therapy, some downtime will be needed, but patients will be able to go out and get back to normal activities for the most part if they are comfortable doing so. In the days following laser skin resurfacing, the targeted area will appear red, feel sensitive, and will likely swell to some degree. Don’t use certain types of makeup at first, as cosmetics can irritate the skin. It is also important to stay out of the sun while the skin is healing.
Keeping the skin clean is vital. To stave off the risk of infections, avoid activities or environments that can be considered hygiene risks, such as swimming pools or gym workouts.
Keeping the head elevated, wearing cold compresses, and taking pain medications can help to reduce discomfort. Note that the healing process for erbium laser skin resurfacing treatments is shorter than with CO2 lasers.
In about a week, the skin will dry out and begin to peel, revealing fresher, smoother skin beneath. It may take up to three weeks for the skin to completely recover, depending on each person's health condition and healing rate. Going back to wearing makeup once the skin has healed is fine, but oil-free products are preferable.
The younger skin should be well moisturized and protected from UV exposure with an adequate broad-spectrum sunscreen that is designed for the face. It is always important to protect the skin against premature aging and skin cancer, but laser-treated skin is especially sensitive. New sun damage can alter laser skin resurfacing results and cause more lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation irregularities to form. The ideal sunscreen will be a sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Options Beyond Laser Skin Resurfacing in Florida
Fractional laser sessions can be used for anti-aging treatments that are less intense than laser skin resurfacing, making them more appropriate for minimal to mild sun damage. This involves creating microscopic laser channels in small areas of the skin to stimulate cell turnover and collagen production.
Skin Wellness Physicians offers other resurfacing options for enhancing skin quality and injectables for minimizing wrinkles or volumizing and lifting contours. These include IPL (intense pulsed light) to fade sun spots, microneedling to stimulate collagen production with controlled micro-injuries that kick start the skin's healing process, BOTOX® to smooth out dynamic wrinkles by temporarily relaxing facial muscles, dermal fillers to address static wrinkles by adding volume to replace depleted collagen, and more.