The Science of Laser Skin Rejuvenation

With so many people turning to plastic surgery, harsh chemicals and other extreme measures to improve the appearance of their skin, the new technology surrounding laser skin rejuvenation offers an alternative that has many excited.

These treatments are designed to increase collagen production while also decreasing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines—not just on the face, but anywhere on the body. They’re also great for those who suffer from acne scars, skin discoloration and large pores.

Not to be confused with laser skin rejuvenation using ablative lasers, which can take weeks to heal and is considered an invasive procedure, laser skin rejuvenation using the newer technology offered by nonablative lasers has very few side effects. This alternative treatment actually requires little or no down time, something that draws many people to the procedure. In fact, most people can have their treatments done on their lunch break and head back to work without an issue.

Laser Wavelengths

The wavelength used for skin rejuvenation strongly depends on the client’s skin type and what they feel their problem area is. At Body Details, we use the PicoWay Resolve, a photoacoustic technology. By distributing quick pulses to tiny areas of the skin, a pixelation effect occurs around the area being treated. The skin damage can only be seen up close, allowing your skin to appear almost normal immediately after each treatment while still getting rid of imperfections beneath the surface.

Wavelengths can be directed toward areas of discoloration in the skin in quite the same way a laser targets pigment in laser tattoo removal. The pigment in sunspots, acne scars, age spots, freckles and any other scar or mark you want removed from your body will be broken up into millions of pieces. This makes it easier for the body to naturally eliminate these particles of pigment as part of the body’s waste.

Additionally, these laser wavelengths can be sent deeper into the layers of the skin to stimulate neocollagenesis, or the growth of new collagen. The newer lasers do this by using photoacoustic technology, or a light shockwave to stimulate the cells. This gives laser technicians more control over how much heat is produced, as opposed to the older methods where photothermal technology was used. This method used a light heat wave to stimulate collagen growth, which required clients to put aside more time for healing. These lasers were called ablative lasers.

Ablative Lasers

As an older form of technology, ablative lasers were a more popular option for skin resurfacing and rejuvenation procedures before nonablative lasers were discovered. The word “ablative” is defined as the surgical removal of body tissue, an apt name for this type of laser. Still used today by many doctors, treatments using ablative lasers are considered an invasive procedure, and skin rejuvenation using these typically must be done by a doctor as an outpatient procedure.

These lasers work by emitting light heat waves that create enough heat to stimulate collagen growth, which slows down when people hit their thirties. However, the heat also evaporates any water in the skin cells, ultimately killing them off and completely eliminating the top layer of the skin. This forces the body to create a new layer during the healing process, a process similar to harsh chemical peels. The damaged skin heals over several days or weeks as new collagen begins to grow, and the results are a younger appearance and tighter skin.

Treatments often take 30-45 minutes, and only need to be done once. Results are said to last up to five years.

Nonablative Lasers

Technology advancements have improved upon the ablative lasers, creating the less aggressive nonablative lasers so that people who can’t hide from the world for weeks at a time can also benefit from this option for looking younger. Similar to lasers used for laser hair removal and laser tattoo removal, the wavelengths emitted from the nonablative laser can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin without damaging the skin’s surface. In fact, few people experience side effects at all.

By using photoacoustic technology, instead of the light heat waves used in ablative lasers, nonablative lasers don’t cause the water in the skin tissue to evaporate. Instead, nonablative lasers send sound waves into the skin tissue in a controlled manner so that it can stimulate collagen growth without killing any skin tissue. Like the name of the laser says, these laser sessions are done without the surgical removal of any body tissue, and it’s for this reason that downtime after treatment is so minimal.

Depending on the area being treated, nonablative laser skin rejuvenation treatments usually take an average of 10 minutes to complete. Several treatments are required before most issues will be completely resolved, however most people notice a difference in their skin’s tone and texture right away. It’s recommended that treatments are done four weeks apart, and can be continued as an anti-aging regimen or stopped after scars or discoloration have vanished.

The Body’s Reaction

Immediately after your treatment, you will likely notice no difference in your skin’s appearance. Most people experience little discomfort after their laser rejuvenation treatments, but some have had slight swelling, redness or minimal skin peeling around the treated area. Often, a cool compress will alleviate any of these side effects, and any mild irritation experienced will be gone in less than an hour.

Over the first few days of healing, you might notice a more even skin tone and the reduced appearance of any pigmentation or scars being treated. As several weeks pass, you will notice that your skin has more elasticity as collagen continues to grow along with the disappearance of some fine lines. These results will only continue to improve after you have several laser skin rejuvenation treatments under your belt.

Some patients experience acne breakouts around the area they received laser treatments, however this is a temporary side effect that clears up on its own. There is no risk of scarring or blistering, as the only risk of having these laser treatments done is looking more youthful than ever!

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Paul A. Boulos
Dr. Paul A. Boulos is an excellent and versatile cosmetic surgeon, passionate about his vocation and helping others. Dr. Boulos is an alumni of Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his General Surgery training at Inspira Medical in Southern New Jersey. He studied and learn under Dr. Joseph Castellano, one of the premier breast and body Cosmetic Surgeons in South Florida. He currently works as a Cosmetic Surgeon at Jolie Plastic Surgery in Miami, FL.