As we age, the color, texture and tone of our skin changes. These changes are due more to environmental factors than aging. Smoking and sun damage greatly contribute to wrinkles and give the skin a sallow appearance. To improve the skin surface I perform an array of treatments ranging from light chemical peel to fractional laser resurfacing.
Laser resurfacing, laser peels and chemical peels all damage the entire skin surface. The most superficial procedures just damage the top layer of the skin, the epidermis, which peels or exfoliates off, allowing a younger looking epidermis to replace it. If you go deep below the epidermis into the dermis, you will create inflammation or destruction in the dermis stimulating repair giving you smoother appearing skin.
Fractional resurfacing produces the same epidermal and dermal damage, but it does so by making tiny holes in the skin, rather than destroying the entire epidermis and dermis. By leaving small microscopic islands of uninjured skin, the repair grows out from these normal islands in 2-4 days, compared to 1-2 weeks when the entire skin surface is treated. Think of it as aerating a golf green or front yard. When you want a thicker healthier lawn, you don’t pull all the grass out by the roots and allow it to regrow, you make holes evenly spaced and these holes fill in from the untouched adjacent grass.
Unlike traditional laser or chemical peels, almost any area of the body can be treated. Traditional CO2 and erbium peels can cause scarring in certain areas like the neck and chest hands and arms. This is due to of the wound healing properties of a specific area. Fractional resurfacing has dramatically decreased these risks allowing treatment of brown spots, sun damage and fine lines almost anywhere.
We would like you to arrive in the office one hour prior to your scheduled treatment time. At this time a topical anesthetic will be applied. The actual laser treatment takes between 10 and 60 minutes depending on how many areas you are having treated.
A typical series of fractional treatments can be done monthly, however it can take up to three months to see maximum skin tightening from one session since the tightening is due to collagen production and that does not begin until about 4-6 weeks. In general, a well counseled patient will generally be happy in one to three treatments.
I can accurately adjust the depth of your treatment and the amount of normal untouched skin. I can vary the depth so you can have a treatment as light as a microdermabrasion, apply make up and go back to work immediately. Conversely, I can make the holes very close together, almost touching, and make them go deeper by applying more heat to each hole. This causes more dermal damage, and gives more tightening but lengthens your recovery time up to 10 days. Knowing your expectations and your willingness to have more down time will help me determine which parameters to use.
There is no procedure that is completely risk free, and the side effects will vary according to your age, skin type and the aggressiveness of the treatment. If you smoke or are on certain medications like corticosteroids, your wound healing will be prolonged and may put you at higher risk for complications. In a patient with a history of fever blisters, then reactivation of a latent fever blister may cause blisters to appear in the treated areas. This can be prevented essentially 100% of the time with pretreatment with oral antiviral medications. It is essential that you tell the physician if you have ever had a fever blisters on your lip or face.
The overwhelming majority of patients heal in 4 days allowing you to wear makeup. You will likely still be pink but your skin can tolerate a light makeup. The most common complication would be a slightly longer recovery, time. some patients may remain pink and experience peeling for longer than estimated.
Another possible complication is irregular pigmentation. Patients who have brown eyes and dark skin may be more prone to heal with some irregularities in the pigmentation in the treated areas. This is almost always temporary, and can be treated with sun screens and bleaches. The sun must be avoided after any resurfacing. Sun screens with a SPF over 60 and hats are essential. We can help you select those products.
Light fractional laser rarely produces any scarring. With more aggressive treatments, the risk goes up, but is still extremely rare. Post operative discomfort is almost nonexistent. A very mild sting may be experienced. Mild swelling may occur in those areas if the forehead or eyelids are treated.
All you need to do is apply Vaseline frequently for about 4 days. You can wash your hair with baby shampoo and let the shampoo gently drip over your face. You should not try to remove all the Vaseline. Just apply a little more. Once you achieve your desired result, you will need to maintain your skin and your health. If you use sun screens, a topical retinoid, antioxidants and live a healthy lifestyle with proper diet, exercise and no smoking, your results will be long lasting.
For more information on treatments and how you can benefit, schedule an appointment for a consultation at Ginsburg Dermatology. Fill out the form below, or call us at (205) 592-4880