Is Laser Treatment Right For You?

One of the newest, non-surgical methods of treating fine lines, wrinkles and scars on the face and forehead, hair removal and even weight loss is with lasers. Advances in laser treatment therapy have made it a very popular choice for many patients and the results are promising. With few side effects and little or no down time after treatment, laser therapy is the cosmetic fix of choice for many women and men who want to have a younger facial appearance, lose weight in targeted areas or remove unwanted hair.

What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing of the face and forehead is commonly used and there are several different methods and procedure names. The basic concept is the same for all though, as a qualified cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist uses a device to aim intense light pulses on damaged areas of skin. The heat is directed so that surrounding areas of skin and tissue aren't damaged. Old, wrinkled skin will peel off in a few days and newer, more youthful-looking skin will form over time. Laser treatments can also stimulate the production of new collagen under the skin which will also fill in fine lines and wrinkles.

Types Of Laser Treatments

Fraxel Laser treatment is used to help smooth out lines and wrinkles around your eyes, nose and mouth, eliminate stretch marks, as well as heal sun damage and scaring from acne. This method of laser treatment is FDA approved and uses pulses of light heat to damage the surface area of your skin and create a natural response of healing, new skin and collagen formation.

The treatment takes about an hour for the local anesthetic cream to take affect, then around 30 minutes for the laser treatment. Smoother skin is often immediately apparent and improvements in skin tone can continue for half a year.

Thermage laser treatments, which are also FDA approved, work by heating lower layers of skin but keeping the top layer cool. This encourages the top layer to tighten up, smoothing out wrinkles and fine lines. Collagen in the deeper layers of skin and tissues is also heated, tightening it and also promoting new production.

Thermage treatments can be used on the face, around the mouth and eyes, forehead, neck, lips, jaws and abdominal area. The treatment lasts from a half hour to two hours, depending on the area size to be treated. Results can be seen immediately and can last from half a year to two years.

Is Laser Treatment Right For You?

People with moderate or more severe acne that is present or exceptionally dark skin may not be good candidates for laser treatment. Also, people with very light skin have a higher incidence of developing redness after treatment Ideal candidates have light to moderate wrinkles or lines, mild scarring and otherwise healthy skin. Patients with severe scarring or very deep wrinkles should discuss realistic expectations and results with his or her cosmetic doctor or dermatologist.

What To Expect

Before laser treatment your doctor will probably advise you to stop taking any type of drug such as aspirin that could prohibit blood clotting and to stop smoking. If you tend to develop fever blisters you may be put on medication for that because laser treatment can cause a breakout.

After treatment, a dressing may be applied if the treatment was extensive. That comes off in three days or less. You will also be advised to gently clean the area with sterile water and apply an ointment for lubrication. Patients may also feel like they have a sunburn after laser treatment and experience some discomfort and itching for a few days. Ice can be used to help reduce any pain or swelling. After two to three weeks the skin should be healed. Patients shouldn't use makeup until after healing is completed and should use sun screen and moisturizer regularly after the skin is healed.

Possible Side Effects

Some side effects of laser treatment that you may notice include redness and swelling, infection, cold sores, fever blisters and increased or decreased skin pigmentation that should go away after a few weeks. Your skin could be red or pink for several weeks up to several months, depending on your body's healing process.

How Much Does It Cost?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons estimates that a typical laser skin resurfacing treatment will cost around $2,400. In most cases the treatment is considered cosmetic and your insurance generally won't cover the cost, so speak with your agent first if you have questions.

Laser Hair Removal

Lasers are also used in unwanted hair removal. This is done by using intense targeted laser light on the hair follicles. Your doctor or dermatologist will apply a numbing cream first, about 30 minutes before your session, and then start treatment. Patients may experience a stinging sensation, so the anesthetic cream is normally used. Treatment times vary depending on the amount of hair to be removed. You may have to have several sessions to remove a large amount of hair. The treatments are performed four to twelve weeks apart.

Laser hair removal will last for several months up to a year, depending on the location and color of the hair.

Laser treatments can be used for smoothing out wrinkles, lines, fading scars, weight loss and hair removal. The most important first step is to find a qualified cosmetic doctor or dermatologist who has experience in laser treatment and with whom you feel comfortable. Ask questions, find the right doctor and then the right laser treatment for your condition.