One of the key differences between laser types is between fractional and non-fractional lasers. Non-fractional lasers affect the entire surface of the skin. Fractional lasers, on the other hand, affect only parts of the targeted area. This reduces healing time (because not all skin in the target area is affected by the laser) without significantly impacting the cosmetic effects.
Damage to the skin is limited with fractional lasers because the light is separated out into tiny bits, sort of like a checkerboard. Fraxel (which includes variations like re:store and re:fine) is one of the most commonly used fractional lasers.
Fractional laser brands and conditions they treat:
- Palomar Lux1540 (1540 nm) - stretch marks, skin tone and texture, acne scars, surgical scars, and melasma (skin darkening due to pregnancy)
- The Lux1440 (1440 nm) - shallow scars
- Reliant Fraxel SR (1550 nm) - pigmented lesions, like age spots, sun spots, and melasma
- Reliant Fraxel re:fine (1410 nm) - freckles and sunspots, mild to moderate periorbital wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, and skin discoloration
- Reliant Fraxel re:store (1550 nm) - freckles and sunspots, mild to moderate periorbital wrinkles, acne scars, surgical scars, and skin discoloration
- Cynosure Affirm (1320 - 1440 nm) - wrinkles, scars, pigmentation problems, redness, and age spots
What It's Good For
Fractional non-ablative lasers, like Fraxel, increase collagen production in the skin. Fractional non-ablative lasers can be used on most parts of the body. Fractional non-ablative lasers (at 1440, 1540, and 1550 nm) can be adjusted for all skin types for the treatment of periorbital wrinkles and lines, fine to moderate wrinkles around the mouth, shallow acne scars, and sunspots and freckles. They can also improve the skin's texture. Though fractional non-ablative lasers may be used for deeper wrinkles, they are better suited for those that or mild or moderate (glabellar lines in particular are resistant to these machines).
Who it works for: With care, these lasers can be used on people of any skin type (Fitzpatrick I - VI).