All resurfacing treatments work essentially the same way. First, the outer layers of damaged skin are stripped away. Then, as new cells form during the healing process, a smoother, tighter, younger-looking skin surface appears. Laser resurfacing is a new method being used by plastic surgeons to remove damaged skin. Because it is new, there are no long-term data on this technique. However, a number of studies using microscopic examination have shown that the physical changes that occur to laser-treated skin are essentially identical to those that occur with either dermabrasion or chemical peel. Ask Dr. Stevens about the latest facts concerning long-term follow-up. For superficial or medium resurfacing, the laser can be limited to the epidermis and papillary dermis. For deeper resurfacing, the upper levels of the reticulas dermis can also be removed. Varied penetration allows treatment of specific spots or wrinkles.
It's also important to consider the length of recovery when choosing among the skin-resurfacing alternatives.
In general, the more aggressive the resurfacing procedure is, the more prolonged the recovery is likely to be. "Light" resurfacing procedures, such as superficial chemical peels or superficial laser resurfacing, offer shorter recovery times. However, these lighter procedures may need to be repeated multiple times to achieve results comparable to those achieved with more aggressive techniques. In many cases, facial wrinkles form in localized areas, such as near the eyes or around the mouth. The laser can be precisely controlled so that only these specific areas are targeted.
Patients with olive skin, brown skin or black skin may be at increased risk for pigmentation changes no matter what type of resurfacing method is recommended. Dr. Stevens can evaluate your skin characteristics and make recommendations accordingly. Also, individuals who have taken accutane in the past 12-18 months or are prone to abnormal (keloid-like) scarring or those with active skin infections on the treatment area may not be appropriate candidates for this procedure. Remember, having laser resurfacing can help enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't completely remove all facial flaws or prevent you from aging. Lines that occur as a result of natural movements of the face - smiling, squinting, blinking, talking, chewing - will inevitably recur. Dr. Stevens can suggest ways to help you preserve your results by protecting yourself from sun exposure or using maintenance treatments, such as light chemical peels or medicated facial creams. Before you decide to have laser resurfacing, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with a surgeon. If you are considering laser skin resurfacing and have questions or want to make an appointment to discuss how your appearance may be enhanced, you are welcome to email Dr. Stevens or contact the Plastic Surgery and Laser Center.
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