Laser skin resurfacing treatments, sometimes known as "laser peels," involves the use of lasers to treat skin blemishes like wrinkles and age spots.
Ablative vs. Non-ablative Lasers
Some types of lasers, called ablative lasers, work on the surface of the skin. Effectively, they evaporate the epidermis, allowing it to slough off and reveal new, untouched skin cells beneath. The most common type of ablative lasers used are the C02 laser and the erbium laser.
Non-ablative lasers target the dermis, increasing its collagen production by causing controlled damage in this layer of skin. The resulting increase in collagen growth plumps the skin and softens wrinkles.
Another major distinction between laser types is between fractional lasers 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.
Most laser skin treatments, including the popular Fraxel brand family of resurfacing treatments, are now fractional lasers.
What It's Good For
Laser resurfacing is typically performed on the face. It can also be used on the hands and neck, although in those areas there is a greater likelihood of scarring.