Skin resurfacing involves treatment of the outer skin layers to help rejuvenate aged or sun-damaged skin to provide a more vibrant and youthful look. Whereas a facelift is indicated for deep facial creases, skin resurfacing is the treatment of choice for diffuse, fine facial wrinkles. A number of different resurfacing techniques exist, with laser and chemical peeling being the two most common.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
For laser resurfacing, our facial plastic surgeon, Dr. John Hilinski, prefers to use the Lumenis® Encore carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. This system has two main configurations – termed Active FX and Deep FX – which are both excellent choices for resurfacing skin. The laser functions by carefully and uniformly removing unwanted damaged skin layers, but in a fractionated manner. This means the laser works by resurfacing a fraction of the skin using carefully designed, computer-generated patterns – essentially leaving microscopic areas of healthy skin that allows quicker healing and recovery. Minimal bleeding occurs because the laser also helps seal tiny capillaries (small blood vessels) during treatment. As healing takes place, a new more rejuvenated skin begins to flourish. Regenerating skin is smoother, more uniform in color, and has better elastic properties. The collagen fibers within the skin actually begin to tighten as a result of the laser peel, resulting in somewhat of a “mini-lift” to the face. An added benefit to laser resurfacing is the removal of pre-cancerous skin lesions, such as actinic keratosis.
Healing time for fractionated laser treatments can be as short as just a few days for a micro-peel and upwards of 10-14 days for a full, deep peel. During this time meticulous wound care is necessary in the form of topical moisturizers. Hypoallergenic make-up can be worn after the new skin has started to come in, which helps to conceal residual redness. Most people are comfortable returning to normal social activity by this time.
Chemical peels are an alternative to laser resurfacing. The concept is similar to laser treatment, but chemicals are used instead to remove the outer layer of skin. Healing takes place in a similar fashion as it does with laser over a similar time period.
Most cases of skin resurfacing are done under local anesthesia (without going to sleep) in a minor surgery setting. Results can be quite dramatic in terms of improved skin texture and overall facial appearance. In many cases, skin resurfacing can help delay the desire or need for facelift or browlift surgery by several years, if not longer. To maintain the healthy benefits of skin resurfacing, an extended skin care program will be offered to you.
Skin Resurfacing FAQs
What is a Laser Peel?
The laser peel, also referred to as laser skin resurfacing, is a procedure which resurfaces the skin using sophisticated lasers, such as Dr. Hilinski’s Lumenis® Encore Active FX and Deep FX systems. The laser peel minimizes the appearance of fine wrinkling, sun spots, brown spots, freckling, rough skin texture and large pores, providing a more vibrant and youthful look to the skin. The laser peel may be performed on its own, though it is commonly performed with other surgical facial rejuvenation procedures, such as a face lift. There are a wide variety of laser devices available today, although the Lumenis® Encore is widely considered one of the most powerful and effective lasers still on the market today.
What is the Carbon Dioxide Laser?
Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing (CO2 laser) is one of the most powerful skin resurfacing lasers available. CO2 lasers are used to rejuvenate aged and damaged skin by smoothing and tightening the skin while also improving skin discoloration. In general, CO2 lasers provide a deep peel similar to the highest settings on other laser systems. The CO2 laser may be performed as a ‘full face’ or ‘segmental’ treatment. Segmental treatment refers to laser resurfacing of only certain areas or segments of the face, such as around the eyes or around the mouth. In many cases, patients elect to have a fractionated laser peel using Active FX settings that allow a quicker recovery time – while still providing for a nice improvement in skin texture and tone.
What is a Fractionated Laser?
Fractionated laser skin resurfacing is a great option for patients with fine wrinkles/rhytids, unwanted brown spots and pitted acne scars who require less downtime from a laser procedure. The Lumenis® Encore Active FX and Deep FX system used by Dr. Hilinski is actually a CO2 laser with only a fraction of the laser rays allowed to penetrate through to the skin (thus the term fractional skin resurfacing). On a microscopic level, this results in certain zones of skin that are affected by the laser being in immediate proximity to other zones that are left unaffected. This fraction of skin that is left unaffected by the Active FX and Deep FX laser helps to promote more rapid regeneration of the skin. This concept works particularly well when treating patients with pitted acne scarring of the skin. As opposed to the more intense full CO2 lasers, fractionated laser resurfacing is done routinely in the office. The fractionated laser may be performed as a ‘full face’ or ‘segmental’ treatment. Segmental treatment refers to laser resurfacing of only certain areas or segments of the face, such as around the eyes or around the mouth.