The Glow of Skin Resurfacing

By Dr. James White As we age, the accumulative effects of wear and tear damage begin to show on our skin. We lose the youthful glow which is ultimately replaced by aged, leather-like skin with areas of color blemishes. Skin resurfacing has been used to trick the body into replacing old skin with new, youthful skin. How?By controlled damage.

CO2 laser skin resurfacing and deep chemical peels are techniques which have been used for ablative skin resurfacing. Basically, the upper layers of skin are ‘burned’ by the chemical peel or laser like a second-degree skin burn. The upper layers of skin slough off, over three to four weeks, being replaced by new “smooth” skin. The results are impressive; however, the down time and pain involved with the ablative type procedures are extensive.

Fractionated Laser Resurfacing

Recent technology with laser fractionation has decreased the down time to a minor outpatient procedure with minimal discomfort resulting in 12 hours of skin pinkness without most of the slough. Laser energy is passed through a special lens causing fractionation of the laser energy into thousands of microbeams. These microbeams penetrate the upper layers of the skin surface to cause areas of microtreatment zones, which the body replaces with new skin.

When trying to comprehend the basic concept of fractionated skin resurfacing, think of pixels in a digital photograph. If you look at a digital image in extreme magnification, you’ll see that the image is actually comprised of thousands of tiny spots of color or pixels. Similarly, fractionated laser skin resurfacing produces thousands of tiny treatment zones on the skin known as microthermal zones. These laser microbeams penetrate deep into the dermis and eliminate old epidermal, pigmented cells. Just as important, though, are the areas of skin that the laser leaves untouched. The fractionated laser is so precise that it penetrates through the outer layers of the skin, as if it were a window, and leaves them completely intact.

For every microthermal zone that the laser targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. This “fractional” treatment allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once by using the body’s natural healing process to create new, healthy tissue which replaces the old skin’s imperfections. Just as a damaged painting is delicately restored one small area at a time, fractionated laser treatments improve appearance by affecting only a fraction of your skin at a time with thousands of tiny microscopic laser spots.

Conditions Improved by fractional resurfacing

Fine to deep wrinkles, acne pitting scars, old surgical scars, discolorations and rough skin texture are just a few of the areas improved by fractionated laser treatments. Laser treatment targets between 20 to 25 percent of the skin’s surface at each treatment . Results are immediate and progressive. Optimal improvement is usually visible in about four to six months after completion of the treatment series as the body continues to replace the areas of microbeam damage with new, healthy cells. Because fractionated laser treatments spare healthy tissue, it is effective even on delicate skin areas such as neck, chest and hands.

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