Want to Age in Reverse? Learn More About Laser Treatments for Anti-Aging
Lasers are one of many modern technologies that can be used to our benefit–but did you know they’re very effective when used for skin care? More and more people are seeking laser treatments to reveal youthful-looking, healthy skin and to erase the flaws right off their face. For laser newbies, it might sound scary or dangerous, but these procedures are perfectly safe and produce great results for those that want to slow or reverse signs of aging.
What is laser treatment?
Laser treatments use focused light to penetrate the skin, removing or repairing skin irregularities both on and under the surface. It varies in intensity based on the exact type of laser being used. Laser treatments are performed by trained professionals in medical spas, dermatology clinics, and plastic surgery clinics and should not be attempted by amateurs. While the lasers are perfectly safe if used in the correct application with safety measures, they can cause serious harm if not handled appropriately.
What kind of skin concerns do laser treatments address?
Laser treatments can help a whole host of skin issues! This goes way beyond anti-aging: because there are so many different kinds of laser treatments, there is an equally diverse number of skin concerns that they can be used to fight or repair.
Here’s a quick list of some of the things that laser treatments can help with:
- Uneven pigmentation or hyperpigmentation
- Spider veins
- Enlarged pores
- Acne scars
- Treatment-resistant melasma
- Surgical or injury scars
- Sun damage
- Hair removal
- Tattoo removal
- Fine lines
- Skin texture
- Loose skin
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good idea of the types of skin issues that could benefit from laser treatment. If you have a skin concern that isn’t on this list, talk to your dermatologist to see what type, if any, could be helpful in treating your specific condition.
Types of Laser Treatment
There are two main categories of laser treatments: ablative and non-ablative.
Ablative lasers work on the top layer of skin, using an intense light to remove a very thin layer and stimulate the skin underneath. This works well to remove flaws on the surface, like sun damage, texture issues, and deep scarring, as well as reduces moderate fine lines and wrinkles. This is a more aggressive, invasive type of lasering and is often used in resurfacing procedures.
A slightly more mild option is a non-ablative laser treatment. Non-ablative lasers work by heating up the skin at a deeper level than ablative lasers and therefore don’t harm the surface, making this a much less invasive option for certain skin issues. Heating up the subsurface skin tissue stimulates collagen production and can help with acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and mild wrinkles or fine lines.
Either of these treatments can also be fractionated. Fractionated ablative or non-ablative laser treats only an evenly distributed percentage of an area of skin instead of the whole area all at once. It quite literally only uses a fraction of the laser’s area. Fractionated lasers create targeted, precise, self-healing micro-holes in the skin to treat the area at the most effective level.
There are also other types of non-invasive lightwave treatments that will help your skin look better from the inside out. BroadBand light therapy can reverse visible signs of aging and acne by stimulating skin at a deep level, much like non-ablative laser treatment. Intense Pulsed Light therapy (abbreviated as IPL or colloquially known as photofacial) pulses intense light waves into the skin to reduce discoloration and repair sun damage.
Side effects of laser treatment
Before you schedule your first appointment for laser treatment, you should be aware of potential side effects. Laser treatments can induce some uncomfortable and unappealing side effects before you see the final results and may be shocking if you aren’t fully prepared before undergoing treatment.
Potential side effects include (but are not limited to):
- Itchy skin
- Eye injury
- Change in skin color
- Peeling or flaking
Some of these symptoms–like peeling and flaking–are perfectly normal and to be expected as part of the healing process after receiving laser skin treatment.
Others should be addressed with your dermatologist and/or primary physician right away. Things like infection or eye injury should always be taken seriously as soon as you notice symptoms, as delaying treatment can sometimes result in long-term complications.
Severity of symptoms will differ depending on which type of laser treatment you receive because of the varying levels of intensity of treatment. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours in mild cases to several weeks for more extreme treatments.
What’s the best laser treatment for anti-aging?
That depends! Everyone’s skin is different and what works well to tackle your aging concerns doesn’t necessarily work for someone else’s, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Both ablative and non-ablative lasers can treat common signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, sun damage, and texture at different levels of progression.
Ablative lasers treat more acute conditions and produce more dramatic change with fewer treatments. Non-ablative treatment may require more sessions to achieve the desired result but will cause less discomfort and milder, more temporary symptoms than ablative lasers.
A big factor to consider when determining which laser treatment is right for you is the recovery process. Treatments using ablative lasers may require more intense recovery measures and may be more disruptive to your everyday life than treatment with non-ablative lasers.
Potential recovery measures for laser treatment include making sure skin stays hydrated, using cold compresses to alleviate swelling, avoiding sun exposure, and diligently using sunscreen.
In the case of more intense ablative laser procedures, many patients opt to take a few days (or weeks) off of work. This is due in part to the dramatic appearance of the skin while undergoing the healing process and can also be beneficial to focus on following post-procedure orders to protect your investment in your skin and ensure best results.