Your Laser Resurfacing Questions, Answered
By Experts at SkinSpirit Walnut Creek
As your tan fades and fall begins, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about laser resurfacing.
Laser resurfacing is a non-invasive treatment that smooths away wrinkles and treats discoloration and blemishes, using lasers to trigger a healing response in the skin. This, in turn, renews collagen and gives the skin a younger, healthier looking appearance.
At SkinSpirit, we offer a few different options for laser resurfacing, depending on location, and we want to help you better understand how you can benefit from these treatments. So, we sent Assistant Clinic Manager Jacy Sponseller behind-the-scenes to investigate. Jacy sat down with laser resurfacing experts on her team in Walnut Creek to get answers to some of our biggest questions. Here’s what she found.
For those of us that are new to lasers, can you give me a more descriptive breakdown on what laser resurfacing is actually doing?
Laser resurfacing is just another name for treatments like Active FX, Fraxel, or Resurfx that stimulate new collagen in the skin, target pigmentation (brown spots), and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, says expert Jeffrey Wheaton, RN, CNOR.
All three lasers used at SkinSpirit are fractional lasers, which means they deliver energy in a collimated fashion. Depending on how close together those columns are, the more aggressive you make the treatment. The untreated areas between the columns aid in the healing of the treated areas, which reduces the healing time compared to traditional laser resurfacing.
The difference between ActiveFX and Fraxel or ResurFX is that ActiveFX is an ablative laser. That means the skin is “open” for the first 24 hours, whereas nonablative lasers like ResurFX and Fraxel are not creating open areas of the skin. Both types of treatments have their benefits and limitations.
Fortunately, the advancements in technology have improved the overall quality of laser treatments so you can still get a great result without being overly aggressive.
Who would be an ideal candidate for laser resurfacing?
ActiveFX resurfacing is ideal for someone who is over 40, has sun damage, light skin, and wrinkles – but there is significant downtime. Someone with a darker complexion would benefit from Fraxel or ResurFX, which can help address tone and texture and, with multiple treatments, slow down the aging process with relatively less downtime.
What is the most beneficial laser treatment someone could get and why?
According to Jeff, full face resurfacing provides the greatest result and is the longest lasting.
After your treatment, collagen regeneration will occur over the next six months and last anywhere from 12-18 months. Everyone is a little bit different and there are various factors playing a role in just how long the treatment will last for you – such as lifestyle, general health, and UV exposure.
When you say the treatment will last 12-18 months, what does that mean?
It means that over the course of the next six months after your treatment, the collagen and elastin in the skin will become stronger. Clients will see an improved texture that is more uniform, while the skin appears smoother and has a silk-like feel to it. That’s because there is a higher quality collagen that is now present in the skin that was not before.
Results occur gradually over time, peaking around the six-month mark.
I’m glad you mentioned that. What would home care look like for someone before and after a laser resurfacing treatment?
If you want to get the most out of any of your treatments (which of course, you do!), it is important to start on a quality skincare regimen first. Think of home care before treatment like daily conditioning before you run a marathon. The longer you have been on a good regimen, which includes physical sunblock, retinoid, and antioxidants, the better condition your skin will be in for your treatment, and the better your skin will recover afterwards.
If you come in for a complimentary consultation with one of our aestheticians before booking laser resurfacing – even better, a facial – we can provide you with some custom product recommendations and suggestions on an at-home routine for you.
So talk to me a little bit about downtime. What can I expect?
You can expect a few days of recovery time, depending on the type of treatment you are having. Remember that the treatment creates a controlled wound in your skin, which stimulates the healing process that ultimately stimulates collagen and elastin – which is the result that you may notice weeks to months after your treatment.
With ActiveFX, you’ll experience greater downtime and may feel like you have a bad sunburn during the first two days. With Fraxel and ResurFX, you may notice darkening of the pigmentation before the dark spots begin to fade on day three.
To see how everything is going, we typically do a follow up visit during these first few days. Then, within two weeks, you’ll be free to return to your normal skin care regimen.
How would you prep a client for a treatment like Fraxel or Active FX?
Ideally, we start clients on a pretreatment product like Fade RX or a lightener in combination with a Retinol/Retin-A (the longer you’re on some great products, the better) before their scheduled appointment. This helps to prep the skin for the treatment and enhances the result. Continuing the products post treatment will help you continue to protect and enhance the investment.
There should also be no active tans or burns to the area when you come in for treatment. That means no tanning booths or any sun exposure four to six weeks before treatment. Laser resurfacing isn’t ideal in the summer months, so we usually wait until the fall and winter months to recommend treatment.
Before we close, can you talk to me a little bit about what the treatment feels like? Does it hurt?
Jeff likes to describe these laser treatments as a fleeting “spicy” experience. The level of discomfort is relative to the patient.
Fortunately, there are various way to improve comfort and topical anesthetics are used with all laser resurfacing lasers.
Jeff, thank you so much for talking with me today and giving me a little bit more insight on the lasers we offer and how they work.
There are so many benefits to these great treatments. It’s incredible that a laser can provide such a powerful result. There really isn’t any reason not to get one. Sign me up!
Book a Free Laser Resurfacing Consult in California or Washington
Laser resurfacing is offered at clinics throughout Northern California and Washington but options may vary per location. Give us a call at (855) 383-7546 to learn more.