Lasers

VIP Plastic Surgery | Los Angeles, CA | Andrew Choi, M.D.

Fraxel® Laser Systems for Skin Resurfacing

Fraxel® laser systems use fractional-resurfacing technology, in which only a fraction of an area of skin receives laser light, to significantly improve skin texture and remove pigmentation. The energy from Fraxel laser systems stimulates skin’s collagen, and rejuvenates skin cells below the skin’s surface, helping to smooth out the creases that cause wrinkling and scarring. According to their manufacturer, Solta Medical, Inc., Fraxel lasers, in addition to improving the tone and texture of the skin, treat:

  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Surface scarring from acne or surgery
  • Melasma
  • Pigmentation from sun damage and aging
  • Actinic keratosis (a common precancerous skin condition)

There are a number of skin-resurfacing systems made by Solta Medical. Which one is used depends upon the condition being treated.

Benefits of Fraxel Laser Treatment

Fraxel laser treatments are performed in a doctor’s office and, in most cases, only topical anesthesia is needed. Treatments usually take between 20 and 30 minutes. Depending on the particular laser used, the benefits of treatment with a Fraxel laser include:

  • Smoother skin and a more even skin tone
  • Softening of deep frown lines and wrinkles
  • Improved appearance of redness caused by sun damage
  • Removal of unwanted brown spots
  • A reduction of fine lines around the eyes
  • Less noticeable surgical and acne scars

Possible Side Effects of Fraxel Laser Treatment

Possible side effects of Fraxel laser treatment depend on the particular system used. In general, side effects may include:

  • Prolonged redness
  • Swelling
  • Blistering
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Herpes reactivation
  • Acne flareup

The average number of laser treatments needed varies depending upon the Fraxel system used.

Intense-Pulsed-Light Skin Rejuvenation

Intense-Pulsed-Light (IPL) skin rejuvenation uses high-energy pulses of light to improve the skin’s appearance. Also referred to as IPL photorejuvenation, photofacial therapy and pulsed-light therapy, IPL skin rejuvenation is a nonabrasive and noninvasive treatment option for removing red and brown pigment from the skin. IPL is used to treat age spots, birthmarks, freckles caused by the sun, symptoms of rosacea, spider veins, and scarring from acne; it is also an effective tool for hair removal. IPL penetrates below the surface of the skin, leaving the top layer of skin intact, which means that there is no post-treatment recovery period. The light is absorbed by the pigment in sunspots and the blood in the visible vessels, and converted to heat. The heat dissolves the cells that create the pigment and shrinks the vessels.

The Intense-Pulsed-Light Skin Rejuvenation Procedure

Prior to IPL treatment, a topical anesthetic gel is applied to the skin to reduce discomfort. The IPL machine is placed on the settings that best suit the patient’s skin; among the factors considered are the condition being treated and, because IPL is absorbed differently by different skin colors, the amount of pigment in the skin. Protective coverings are placed over the patient’s eyes, and the IPL handpiece is gently pressed to the skin as pulses of light are emitted. The light is absorbed by the skin’s red or brown pigment and converted to heat, which dissolves the pigmented cells. After treatment, the topical anesthetic is removed with a warm cloth, and a moisturizer with sunscreen is usually applied. If there is any swelling, a cold pack is applied for 5 to 10 minutes.

Three to six treatment sessions are usually required; sessions typically last from 30 to 90 minutes each, and are spaced approximately 3 weeks apart. Gradual improvement may be seen after each treatment, but optimal results appear only after several months.

Recovery from Intense-Pulsed-Light Skin Rejuvenation

There is no recuperation time following IPL treatment. A patient can return to work or resume normal activities on the same day. Although skin may be slightly reddened after the treatment, redness typically disappears within a day or two. As it heals in the days following treatment, skin often begins to flake. Over time, however, a gradual, natural-looking improvement in the skin becomes noticeable. Applying sunscreen regularly and avoiding sun exposure is recommended following IPL treatment.

Risks of Intense-Pulsed-Light Skin Rejuvenation

One possible contraindication for IPL treatment is taking medication that increases photosensitivity. A patient using a topical or oral medicine that increases sensitivity to light may not be a candidate for IPL treatment. And, although IPL skin rejuvenation is considered safe, there are some risks associated with its use. Although rare, IPL skin rejuvenation can cause skin discoloration, blisters, scars and burns.

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