Laser resurfacing effectively treats fine lines and wrinkles as well as uneven pigmentation. Unlike the first generation CO2 lasers which were very effective but associated prolonged redness and high risk of scarring, the technologically advanced CO2 lasers of today are effective without the same risks and side effects. While both first generation and current technology are ablative, evaporating the skin and superficial dermis, the current CO2’s are fractionated, treating only a percentage of the total skin surface with intermittent areas of non-treated skin. The treatments can usually be performed under local anesthesia; there are quicker healing and diminished redness. Another type of ablative laser, Erbium: YAG laser has made similar technological advances and is also effective in treating fine lines, wrinkles/uneven pigmentation.
Nonablative CO2 and Erbium lasers do not damage the skin, but target the dermis and can also treat fine lines and wrinkles/uneven pigmentation. There is usually mild redness, which usually diminishes within 24 to 48 hours. Unlike ablative CO2 and Erbium lasers, which can cause increased pigmentation when treating patients of color and darker skin types, hyperpigmentation is unlikely when using nonablative lasers.
Are There Other Treatments Available for Treating Fine Lines, Wrinkles and Uneven Pigmentation?
Yes. Other treatments include microdermabrasion and chemical peels. While these treatment options are effective, they are not comparable to laser resurfacing.
Microdermabrasion is a nonsurgical technique that exfoliates (removes) the most superficial layer of the skin, the stratum corneum. Microdermabrasion machines use a wand-like handpiece that mechanically abrades the skin, think of a sander, and removes the stratum corneum.
- Can be used for all skin types.
- No anesthesia is necessary.
- Diminishes fine lines, wrinkles, and superficial brown spots.
- Decreases pore size.
- Can be used on the décolletage, arms and legs.
- Microdermabrasion is usually performed by a licensed aesthetician.
- If you have rosacea, active acne, or other skin conditions, consult with a dermatologist before undergoing treatment.
Chemical Peels use a chemical solution that is applied to the skin. The effects of the peel will vary depending on the strength of the peel–superficial, medium, or deep. While deep peels can produce results comparable to laser treatments, they lack the precision of laser treatments.
Superficial or light peel
- Treats only the skin.
- Provides a glow to the skin with mild redness.
- Minimal downtime-requiring one to several days to heal.
- Can treat face, neck, hands, and chest.
- Generally, can treat most skin types.
- Sun Protection necessary to protect new skin, which is more sensitive.
- Treats the skin and superficial dermis.
- Trichloracetic acid or glycolic acid.
- Improves skin texture, age spots, fine lines, skin discoloration.
- Downtime 5 to 7 days.
- Redness, swelling first few days then peeling.
- Topical anesthetic before treatment. May be supplemented with oral analgesics.
- Diligent use of sun protection posts peel.
Deep chemical peel
- Trichloracetic acid or phenol peel.
- Treats skin and up to mid-dermis.
- Pretreatment with Retin-A or Retin-A-like product for several weeks results in better penetration of peeling agent.
- Patients with olive or darker skin are pretreated with hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent to minimize the possibility of hyperpigmentation after peeling.
- Antiviral medication and antibiotics before and for 7 -10 days after a deep chemical peel.
- Topical anesthetics, intramuscular analgesics or IV sedation by an anesthesiologist.
- Treats age spots, lines, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation.
- Dramatic improvement often is seen.
- May have prolonged redness up to several months, can camouflage.
- Makeup after new skin forms (re-epithelialization), usually 7-14 days after a peel.
- Diligent use of sunblock.