Laser skin resurfacing uses intense beams of light energy
to remove the upper layers of skin, stimulating new skin growth to replace it.
The theory is that the new skin will look younger and fresher and contain fewer
blemishes, wrinkles or fine lines. The lasers also boost the production of
collagen, which gives the new skin a firmer, plumper look, creating a smooth
surface free of wrinkles.
Precise targeting of laser skin resurfacing can be used to
remove specific blemishes, such as birth marks, port wine stains or tattoos, or
to treat problem areas such as ‘crows feet’ around the eyes and other signs of
aging. Alternatively, the whole of the face can be resurfaced, achieving some
of the benefits of a face-lift, but without the risks associated with invasive
How does laser
During laser skin resurfacing, a skilled surgeon controls
the depth of the laser precisely to regulate the depth of skin that is treated.
Generally the laser only removes the top layers of skin, called the epidermis,
although some treatments penetrate to the deeper level of the dermis.
Several types of laser skin resurfacing are available; each
used to treat different skin conditions and produce different results. Your
dermatologist will advise on the most suitable treatment for you. The different
lasers – thesevaporise the
upper layer of skin and encourage new cell growth in the layers below to
replace it. Usually only one ablative treatment is required to produce a
significant improvement, although it may take several months for the full
effect to be seen. The healing time is longer than with non-ablative lasers, as
the dead skin will initially form scabs that need to fall away before the new
skin is revealed.
lasers – these work on the layers of skin beneath the surface, stimulating
the growth of collagen to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, marks and
blemishes. The skin heals much more quickly with non-ablative laser
lasers – these produce lots of smaller bursts of laser energy, creating
hundreds of hot spots, rather than destroying large areas of the skin surface.
This technique is good for blemishes, but may require several treatments for
pulsed light (IPL) – while not strictly a laser treatment, IPL uses intense
light energy to destroy pigments and thread veins. IPL treatment can be fine
tuned to specific pigments for effective tattoo removal. IPL also stimulates
collagen production and so can be used to decrease pore size and reduce fine
Is my skin suitable
for laser skin resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is not suitable for everyone,
especially people with naturally darker skin, as the new skin layers may not
initially match the colour of the surrounding skin and the skin tone can take
many months to even out.
Laser skin resurfacing is also unsuitable for people who
are prone to keloid or overgrown scarring, people with some skin disorders, or
people who are taking some medications. Your dermatologist will assess your
suitability for laser skin resurfacing.
The laser skin
Laser skin resurfacing is usually performed under local
anaesthetic, and you may also be given a sedative to relax you during the
treatment. More extensive treatments can be carried out under general
Before laser skin resurfacing treatment begins, your skin
will be cleaned very thoroughly. The surgeon will then pass the laser beam over
the skin carefully controlling the intensity and depth of the laser. The
procedure can take anything from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on
how much skin is being treated.
Immediately after the laser skin resurfacing, your treated
skin will be covered with an antiseptic cream and may also be dressed to
prevent infection. Naturally, you will need someone to escort you home and it
is advisable to have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours, especially if
you have had sedation or a general anaesthetic. Any pain or discomfort from
laser skin resurfacing can usually be dealt with by taking paracetemol or
for laser skin resurfacing
To achieve the best results from laser skin resurfacing,
and to avoid infections and scarring, you will need to follow the advice of
your dermatologist and keep to a strict skincare regime for at least six
months. The better you care for your skin, the better the long term results of
laser skin resurfacing.
Initially, you will need to carefully clean your skin and
apply antibiotic cream several times a day, along with moisturisers to prevent
drying and cracking. As the healing progresses, this regime becomes easier,
although you will need to avoid sunlight for up to six months, and apply a high
factor sunscreen whenever you go out. The new skin from laser skin resurfacing
will be particularly susceptible to burning.
It can take many months for the pinkness or redness of
laser skin resurfacing to completely fade, although you should be able to return
to work and normal activities within 2-3 weeks of your treatment.
Does laser skin
In most cases, laser skin resurfacing proves very
effective, although naturally the results will vary from person to person
depending on your individual circumstances. Laser skin resurfacing will
permanently remove tattoos, birthmarks and other blemishes, but you should bear
in mind that it will not provide a permanent solution to the signs of aging.
Your new skin will certainly turn back the clock, but it will then be prone to
aging in the same way as your original skin, and so fine lines and wrinkles
will inevitably reappear.