Everything about Fractional Laser Resurfacing
by Kevin DiCerbo, Director of Celibre Medical
Since 2005 when fractional lasers were first FDA approved, they have gained tremendous acceptance for treating skin conditions such as textured acne scars, surgical scars and wrinkles.
What is fractional resurfacing? Fractional laser resurfacing is a generic term that describes the process of using hundreds of smaller laser beams to treat the skin rather than one larger solid beam. Prior to 2005 all laser procedures used one homogeneous beam of light to treat the skin and in each area where the laser light touched the skin, 100% of the area was treated. With fractional resurfacing, we can divide the beam of light into smaller parts that allow us to treat from 5% to 100% of the skin.
What are the benefits of fractional laser resurfacing vs traditional laser resurfacing? In traditional CO2 laser resurfacing, 100% of the skin is treated. Side effects of the procedure include lightening of the treated area and a waxy, translucent appearance to the skin. In contrast, fractional laser resurfacing is designed to treat only a portion of the skin. The untreated areas assist in the healing process allowing for a more natural appearance to the skin without lightening and the waxy translucence. In addition to side effects, the recovery time for newer fractional laser resurfacing is approximately 1 week and with traditional CO2 resurfacing is between 2-4 weeks.
How does fractional laser resurfacing work? Many laser resurfacing procedures are similar in that the goal of the procedures is to cause an injury that stimulates the production of new collagen. After age 35, the body no longer produces new collagen absent an injury so if we want to improve skin texture and health, we need to create a controlled injury to the skin that will stimulate collagen production. This is what fractional laser resurfacing is designed to do. Using thousands of tiny laser beams, the skin is penetrated by very high powered light. This causes tiny perforations in the skin. These tiny perforations stimulate the body to produce new collagen which subsequently improves the texture of the skin, diminishing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing pore size and decreasing the size, depth and sharpness of acne scars.
What skin condition does Fractional Laser Resurfacing Treat? Fractional laser resurfacing is appropriate for almost all conditions that involve the texture and elasticity of the skin. Textured (indented) acne scars, large pores, fine lines and wrinkles, Syringoma, warts, Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra and sebaceous hyperplasia all respond well to fractional laser resurfacing.
What are the best Fractional Lasers? There are many brands of fractional lasers. Sciton, Lumenis, Palomar, Fraxel and Cutera all have fractional lasers. Although there are differences between the technologies, they all create tiny perforations in the skin from which new collagen develops. We use the Sciton Profractional laser for our fractional resurfacing procedures. More important than the brand of laser is the experience of the practitioner. The way in which the procedure is performed is as important as or more important than the laser that is used. Experience is key for the right outcome so when choosing a practice, find one with multiple treatment options as well as good before and after photos that appear similar to your situation