3 Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatments: Which One Works For You?
It cannot be denied that the increasing popularity of laser skin resurfacing treatments has soared in the past few years. It has risen as much as 150% compared to the number of patients in the past 10 years (Source).
This is also evident in the 2012 Statistical Report of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, where a total of 509,055 laser skin treatment procedures were done in 2012. That is a 9% increase from the 2011 statistics with only 466,238 procedures performed. They trail closely behind microdermabrasion, placing them among the top 6 minimally invasive procedures. The top 5 list includes other facial rejuvenation treatments, like Botox, Chemical Peel and Facial Fillers.
The rise in people getting facial rejuvenation treatments, including laser skin resurfacing, has increased mainly because of the fact that the skin is constantly exposed to harmful elements, like UV rays, environmental pollutants and even chemicals found in everyday cosmetic products. The advances in skin laser technologies has also allowed certified professionals to address the variety of skin problems encountered by a lot of people, which includes pigmentation, acne, scars, enlarged pores and wrinkles and fine lines.
Laser skin resurfacing treatments, in particular, have been further developed with technology that safely treats the many skin conditions and, at the same time, stimulates the collagen production of the skin (Ibrahim et.al., 2014). As an end result, dramatic results are achieved because these laser treatments target the inner layers of the skin without damaging the outer surface. This means that these treatments allow patients to come and go to a doctor’s clinic without having to worry about recovery and downtime.
But, with the many laser skin resurfacing treatments that have come out in the market, it can be confusing to keep track and know which of these can treat your skin conditions, right? Let me give you the low down on the three most common laser skin resurfacing treatments and see which one works for you.
Fraxel Laser Treatment
Fraxel laser treatment uses a patented laser device to treat wrinkled and sun damaged skin, as well as skin discoloration, acne scars and stretch marks. It employs the use of “fractional photothermolysis” technology, which delivers thousands of microscopic laser columns to treat a fraction of the targeted skin without harming the surrounding tissues.
These microscopic laser columns are about one-tenth in diameter of a hair follicle that stimulates the production of collagen to replace the damaged tissue. The Fraxel laser treatment comes in three different types of treatment.
Fraxel re:fine is used to address skin conditions like age spots, unwanted brown spots, moderate to severe wrinkles, furrows in lax skin, and fine lines around the eyes. Its effect on acne scars and atrophic scars, however, are still being studied in clinical trials.
Fraxel DUAL 1550/1927
Fraxel DUAL 1550/1927 is typically advised as a treatment for patients with periorbital wrinkles, acne and surgical scars, pigmented lesions, precancerous lesions and melasma.
Fraxel re:pair SST
Fraxel re:pair SST, on the other hand, addresses the most severe kinds of skin damage. Unlike the first two Fraxel types, Fraxel re:pair SST can be carried out in 1 to 2 treatment sessions to provide desired results.
A Fraxel laser treatment usually lasts between 20 to 25 minutes for a full face. However, an hour prior to the procedure, a topical numbing cream will be applied on the face and cold air will be used to reduce the prickling sensation that will be experienced during the treatment.
After the treatment, the skin will have a sunburned appearance, as well as swelling, for the first 24 hours. However, this will subside after 2 to 3 days. Minor itching, dry skin and flaking may also be experienced as a normal way for your new skin to emerge. The risk of infection, hyperpigmentation and scarring is also limited.
The ablative Fraxel re:pair may not be a good option for Asians and people with an olive skin tone because of the natural sensitivity of the skin and a high risk of developing hyperpigmentation. It is recommended to stick with the non-ablative Fraxel re:fine and DUAL.
Fraxel laser treatment will reveal optimum results after 3 to 5 sessions spaced 2 to 4 weeks apart. Optimum results will be evident within 2 to 3 months after the required number of sessions, but it will also be dependent on condition of the skin and the aging process.
Mosaic Laser Treatment
Another very popular skin laser treatment is the Mosaic Laser Treatment. It is among the fractional laser technologies and uses Controlled Chaos Technology or CCT. This medically induced treatment stimulates the skin’s natural healing process to repair the damaged skin and replace it with a new and rejuvenated skin layer.
The CCT in Mosaic laser treatment delivers multiple microscopic laser beams that penetrate the deeper layers of the skin without damaging the surface skin. This action encourages the natural healing process of the skin and stimulates the regeneration and growth of collagen and elastin (Ibrahim, et.al. 2014) .
Mosaic laser treatment is used on individuals who have fine lines, wrinkles and laxity of the skin. Because it stimulates the regeneration of collagen, it is a treatment of choice for acne, acne scars and hypertrophic and keloid scars. It also improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Asians will definitely benefit from this skin resurfacing treatment as it is non-ablative and has a very rare risk of developing hyperpigmentation.
Depending on the area to be treated, it takes about 5 to 30 minutes to perform a Mosaic laser procedure. Similar to Fraxel, a topical anesthetic cream will also be applied to the face to reduce the slight pain that will be experienced during the procedure. After the treatment, a cooling gel will also be applied to further soothe the skin.
Slight redness and minimal swelling will be noticed immediately after the treatment. This will gradually subside after 3 days. The skin will also be pinkish for the first week after the treatment and during this time, dryness and flaking of the skin will also occur. This can be remedied with the use of a prescribed moisturizing cream or an over-the-counter gentle moisturizer.
Your doctor will recommend several treatment sessions for optimum results. Between 3 to 5 sessions may be required with a 2 to 6 weeks intervals. The skin will gradually improve further after 2 to 3 months and the ideal results will be more evident.
Pixel Laser Treatment
Pixel Laser Treatment is a fractionated ablative laser and works by creating small wounds within the skin, allowing it to heal and eventually stimulate the skin to produce collagen to smoothen and tighten it. It targets small areas in the skin, similar to a pixel in camera, with each pass of the laser.
Pixel laser treatment can help rejuvenate the skin by improving the texture of the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and smooth out acne scarring. An advantage of the Pixel laser is that it can be administered to patients of different skin colors and ethnicity. This is because the laser settings can be easily modified according to the skin type and condition of the patient.
A typical Pixel laser procedure can last for about 30 minutes. A numbing cream may or may not be applied, depending on the pain tolerance of the patient, since the pain can be tolerable with this kind of laser skin resurfacing treatment.
Minimal redness and swelling will be observed immediately after the treatment, which will gradually subside after 2 to 3 days. A grid-like pattern appearance may also develop within the treated area. Pixel laser is generally safe. However, there are quite a number of risks, like bleeding, infection, hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation and poor or delayed healing.
Also, patients who have a history of cold sores or herpes may be at a high risk of aggravating their condition. The procedure cannot be administered if you have been significantly exposed to sunlight or had tanning treatments within the last 4 weeks.
It takes about 2 to 3 weeks before you may see significant results on the skin. Also, the desired results may be achieved after 3 to 5 treatment sessions, which can be done every 4 to 6 weeks.
The Importance of Skin Protection
All these laser skin resurfacing treatments involve redness and swelling as the skin heals itself. During this period, dryness and flaking of the skin is also a normal occurrence. That is why it is important to ensure that a gentle moisturizer that is devoid of Retin-A, retinoid or glycolic acid will be used to properly hydrate the skin.
Also, because the skin is significantly sensitive during the healing stage, it is very crucial that you should limit your exposure to sunlight and that a broad spectrum sunscreen should be applied when there is a need to go out and be exposed to the sun. It is even recommended to wear a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection. This is to avoid the possibility of developing unwanted dark spots due to sun exposure.
Consultation with a Qualified Professional
It is important that you seek out professional advice before deciding on which of these laser skin resurfacing treatments you should try. A consultation with a doctor will allow for a personalised assessment of your skin type and condition. This way the right treatment can be administered that will give you the ideal result.
Dr. Tyng Tan of Aesthetics and Hair Clinic prefers the use of Mosaic Laser Treatment as a skin rejuvenating treatment. It is ideal for the Asian skin type and gives the desired results to reveal a rejuvenated and youthful looking skin without damaging it. During your confidential consultation, Dr. Tan will assess your skin and determine the number of sessions that will provide you with optimum results. Call now and schedule your consultation with Dr. Tyng Tan.
About Dr Tyng Tan
Dr. Tan Tyng Yuan, MBBS completed her graduate and medical education in the United Kingdom over a span of 10 years.