7 Things to Know About LASER Skin Resurfacing
LASER skin resurfacing is one of the most highly sought-after non-surgical cosmetic treatments. Medical LASERs have a long history, but they continue to grow in range: more cosmetic treatments are being developed, more techniques are being mastered, and more advanced machines are being designed. For patients, it is more important than ever to do your research and only receive LASER treatments from a highly-trained, experienced provider. LASER cosmetics are required training for board certified facial cosmetic surgeons and included in American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) fellowship programs.
We at the American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery (ABFCS) have gathered key facts you need to know about LASER skin resurfacing technology in 2022; our Diplomates hope this primer will help you make more educated treatment choices.
- What is LASER skin resurfacing?
- The use of LASERs for cosmetics is not new.
- LASERs are beneficial for both prevention and longevity.
- Best LASER results require multiple treatments.
- LASER rejuvenation is available for almost all skin types–but choosing the right one is key.
- LASERs aren’t just for cosmetic use.
- You don’t need a special license to be a LASER provider.
1. What is LASER skin resurfacing?
LASER skin resurfacing is a proven method for diminishing signs of aging, scars, blemishes, and pigmentation flaws as well as tightening the skin and improving skin tone. It is typically a touchless procedure that involves using energy-based technology to non-surgically instigate skin renewal; “LASER” is a catch-all term for a number of devices. Different LASERs are optimized to treat different issues and skin types:
- CO2 LASERs are typically ablative (removes top layers of skin) to treat a number of skin conditions such as wrinkles, warts, scars, and sun damage.
- Erbium LASERs can be ablative or non-ablative (treating underlying tissues without disturbing the skin’s surface) to reverse signs of aging and promote collagen production.
- Pulsed-Dye LASERs are generally non-ablative and designed to reduce redness, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, spider veins, and other vascular formations.
- Fractional LASERs treat skin in a specialized pattern to reduce healing time; they can be ablative or non-ablative and are used to improve fine lines, hyperpigmentation, scarring, and stretchmarks.
- IPL (intense pulsed light) is a non-LASER type of light therapy that can treat sun damage, acne, or signs of aging, or provide permanent hair removal.
Nearly 500,000 cosmetic LASER treatments were performed in 2021—a 59% increase from 2020.
2. The use of LASERs for cosmetics is not new.
LASERs are well-established tools that have been used by cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists for decades—their aesthetic uses were recognized as early as the 1960s and they began regularly being used for cosmetic treatments in the mid-1990s. Since then, LASER technology has evolved to precisely target myriad skin concerns, remove unwanted fat and hair, and tighten and rejuvenate the skin.
3. LASERs are beneficial for both prevention and longevity.
LASER skin rejuvenation is as useful for “prejuvenation” as it is for maintaining results of other procedures. Because LASER skin treatments reduce signs of aging and boost collagen, starting regular treatments before you notice significant signs of aging may allow you to enjoy more youthful, healthier skin longer, and delay the need for more invasive anti-aging procedures.
Additionally, LASER skin treatments have been shown to improve facial cosmetic surgery results, and can extend the longevity of surgery outcomes with routine postoperative treatments.
4. Best LASER results require multiple treatments.
While it may be possible to address a patient’s skin concerns after a single ablative LASER treatment, most LASERs achieve optimal results through a series of minimally invasive treatments. Though complete results are not immediate when a LASER is designed to provide results over a course of treatments, this more gradual approach allows patients to enjoy LASER skin renewal benefits with little to no downtime.
5. LASER rejuvenation is available for almost all skin types—but choosing the right one is key.
Originally, LASER treatments were only considered to be safe for lighter skin tones, but with newer devices, a wide range of patients can now enjoy the benefits of LASER rejuvenation. While patients with medium and deeper skin tones must vet options much more carefully, there are LASER treatments proven to safely and effectively treat melanin-rich skin. Erbium LASER treatments are generally safe for medium and darker skin tones as they pose the least risk of post-inflammatory pigmentation changes (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation).
6. LASERs aren’t just for cosmetic use.
LASER surgery goes beyond aesthetics and can be used to remove precancerous growths and treat superficial skin cancers. Ablative LASERs vaporize cancer cells and allow precise control over how many layers of tissue are removed without cutting into the skin. One study showed a 62% reduction in precancerous lesions after a single fractionated LASER treatment.
7. You don’t need a special license to be a LASER provider.
Many providers without proper background training and experience in cosmetic medicine offer LASER skin resurfacing—which is why it is essential for those considering a LASER treatment to only book with a highly qualified provider. Choosing a board certified facial cosmetic surgeon will help ensure the appropriate treatment is chosen among a full range of options, guarantee a high level of safety, and help you avoid complications caused by inexperienced providers.
Choose a board certified facial cosmetic surgeon for LASER skin resurfacing treatment.
When choosing a provider to improve the health and appearance of your skin, trust a highly-qualified aesthetic specialist. Facial cosmetic surgeons certified by the American Board of Facial Cosmetic Surgery (ABFCS) are rigorously tested and focus most, if not all of their practice on cosmetic concerns that affect the face, head, and neck. ABFCS surgeons have extensive experience in LASER treatments and a full range of non-surgical and surgical techniques for optimizing your appearance. Use our Find a Surgeon tool to find an ABFCS-certified surgeon near you.