Laser Facial Rejuvenation 101 – Part I

Laser facial rejuvenation is one of the most popular but most confusing  treatments today.  What’s the difference between a lunchtime laser and a fractionated laser?  An ablative or a nonablative laser?  If many plastic surgeons are confused by the plethora of lasers available, how can the average consumer or patient know what laser is best for removing their wrinkles and tightening their skin?  Well, I’m dedicating the next two posts to the Laser Facial Rejuvenation.  After reading these you will know more about lasers than many physicians!

Today we’ll focus on laser basics.  In my next post I’ll go over the different laser treatments that are available.

Lasers work by focusing energy on a certain color of the spectrum.  These colors vary from the color of water (CO2 lasers) to brown (Nd-YAG) to red (Pulse Dye) and others.  When the high intensity light energy of a laser encounters the color it focuses on, heat is created.   This heat can be utilized to cut the skin, burn the upper layers of skin off, heat the deeper layers of the skin, and destroy blemishes. 

Lasering the upper layers of the skin can create a powerful exfoliation, essentially removing these upper layers and their associated blemishes and fine wrinkles.  Eventually the upper layers of the skin grow back within a week or two, smoother and clearer than before.  When the heat of a laser reaches the deeper skin, it denatures, or breaks down collagen which are the building blocks of skin.  When the collagen reforms it becomes tighter and more packed.  This results in tighter skin with less looseness.

So essentially all facial lasers are used to (1) burn off the upper layers of skin with their associated blemishes and wrinkles and/or (2) heat the deeper layers of skin to tighten the collagen.  In the next post I’ll go over the different types of lasers and what you can expect from them.

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Posted in: Plastic Surgery News


Responses:

  1. Great topic! Thanks, Dr. Youn 🙂 So nice to hear someone treating the topic of lasers in more depth, as lots of us are interested in using “light” for better skin–both lasers and LED treatments. (In fact, if you wrote a series of articles or books on this topic, I can think of many would love to read them 😉 )

    So then we should assume that anytime someone tells us that a laser is simply emitting heat, the goal is still always to inflict some micro-damage (e.g., denaturing collagen), but with the goal of having the body repair it and hence in the end, resulting in better skin? In other words, you can’t get the same effect from just applying heat topically (e.g., a super-hot sauna), but the microscopic damage is a necessary part of the process?

    Thanks so much!

    Comment by Courtney on December 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

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