What is facial resurfacing?
As we age the texture of our skin changes; including wrinkling, discoloration, and laxity. This contributes to a dull appearance as light does not reflect as readily from an irregular surface. Resurfacing, whether via chemical peel, laser, or by other means, is meant to help smooth the skin surface. It achieves this by flattening wrinkles, eliminating discoloration, decreasing pore size, and increasing skin thickness. Depending on the method of resurfacing, scar tissue can also be broken up and organized so that they are less tight and less noticeable.
What is a CO2 laser?
A laser is an instrument that excites atoms or molecules to emit light at a specific wavelength producing a narrow beam of radiation. Lasers used in skin procedures usually have a target molecule that absorbs the energy that is produced by the laser. With CO2 lasers, the target molecule is water. Skin is made up of approximately 70% water and therefore CO2 lasers prove to be powerful instruments in skin treatments. Lumenis was a pioneer in CO2 laser treatment, and continues to create devices that lead the industry in achieving incredible outcomes in a safe manner. At Mid-Maine Oral Surgery we use the Lumenis Ultrapulse Alpha.
Are the effects permanent?
The desired effects from scar treatments are long lasting, but unfortunately the aging process cannot be completely stopped. The peak effect is at 2-4 months, at which time re-evaluation is done and additional treatment is offered if the desired result was not achieved. Wrinkle reduction tends to last a couple, to several years.
What doesn’t facial resurfacing do?
Even though laser resurfacing smooths the skin surface, softens and removes some wrinkles, and helps eliminate some pigment irregularities; it cannot drastically eliminate skin laxity or replace ‘lifting’ procedures.
What can go wrong?
Laser treatments transfer significant energy to the skin that vaporizes it in a specified pattern. The surrounding tissue is heated in the process, thus stimulating collagen production. If the wounds created by the laser are too deep, or overlapped by too much, laser resurfacing can create significant scarring. It is therefore important to seek treatment from an experienced provider that is familiar with the skin of the area being treated. It is also important to avoid overaggressive treatment. Another complication of laser treatment is hypopigmentation. This can be permanent, but is usually avoided with proper case selection.
Following laser treatment, depending on the depth or aggressiveness of the treatment, you will likely have several days of redness and even crusting. It is important to follow the post-op instructions closely for care of the wounds and symptom management. The redness can last up to a few months, but can easily be covered with makeup after several days.
Discussed at consultation. Treatment can be done with topical anesthesia or under sedation, which will also be discussed during the consultation.