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Laser treatments are short and concentrated light beams that target the skin to remove imperfections and promote skin renewal and collagen growth. There are many different types of lasers which can be used to treat a variety of skin problems:• Pigmentation• Fine lines• Wrinkles• Scars – injury, post-surgery, burns, acne• Hair removal• Tattoo removal
Laser beams work by targeting various coloured particles within the skin. When the laser energy finds these targets, they super-heat them to create a very controlled 'injury' to the skin that stimulates the body’s natural healing processes.
There are broadly two types of laser treatments: ablative and non-ablative lasers.
These lasers work by vaporizing the outer layers of the skin, effectively causing a controlled burn injury. This causes the skin to heal and restructure itself by increasing collagen production. This can bring about positive results such as an improvement in:• Fine lines• Wrinkles • Skin tone and texture• Hyperpigmentation• Acne scars
Examples of such lasers include the DEKA SmartXide and Sciton Erbium lasers.
Because the ablative lasers are stronger and more effective in stimulating skin regeneration than the non-ablative lasers, their effects are more noticeable with less number of treatments, and their effects can last for several years with proper aftercare. This includes regular moisturizer use after the procedure and either avoidance of sun exposure or liberal use of sunscreen.
However, as these lasers are more aggressive compared to the non-ablative lasers, the recovery time is longer. Blistering is common right after the procedure, and the subsequent swelling and redness will take about 1 to 2 weeks to settle down. There is also a greater risk of side effects and complications.
In contrast to the ablative lasers, these lasers work by heating up the targeted skin without causing destruction. This stimulates collagen production in a gentler way to rejuvenate the face and gradually improve skin perfections such as:• Fine lines• Skin tone and texture• Scars• Hyperpigmentation• Redness• Open pores
Examples of non-ablative therapies include the , PICO laser and broad band light, Pico laser, pulsed dye laser (PDL). Different treatments are selected depending on the condition of your skin and the problem that you want to treat.
As there is less thermal damage caused, there is reduced recovery time and risk associated with these treatments. Redness and swelling usually settles by 3 to 5 days. However, their results are less dramatic, and multiple treatment sessions are usually required to achieve the desired outcome.
In most cases, avoidance of smoking and sun exposure for several weeks before the procedure is advised to minimize the risk of complications afterwards.
An anaesthetic cream will be applied to the area to be treated one hour beforehand to minimize discomfort during the treatment. A stinging or burning sensation may be felt, especially with the stronger lasers. The procedure is usually quick, well tolerated, and you can leave soon after your treatment is over.
After the procedure, your surgeon may advise the use of topical creams or ointments to sooth the redness, swelling, or minimize the risk of infection. The recovery time is up to 3 to 5 days for the non-ablative lasers, and 1 to 2 weeks for the ablative lasers. You should avoid sun exposure, or use a good sunscreen, for several weeks afterwards to minimize the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
If you need more than one treatment, the next session will usually be scheduled 4 to 6 weeks later.
The likelihood of side effects and complications after laser treatment depend on the energy setting that is used and the characteristics of your skin and its ability to heal. Some potential problems include:
• Prolonged redness, swelling and itching• Acne• Infection• Changes in skin colour – either hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation• Scarring• Ectropion – this a rare occurrence where laser treatment at the lower eyelid results in the eyelid turning out and exposure of the inner surface.