Several general types of technology exist:
- Ablative with total skin resurfacing – The entire surface of the skin is peeled away.
- Fractional ablative laser resurfacing – Pinpoint laser beams peel away many small areas of skin.
- Fractional non-ablative laser resurfacing – Pinpoint laser beams that super-heat many small areas of skin leaving microscopic areas of skin intact.
What a session is like depends on the technology used. Before the treatment, the area will be cleaned to remove makeup, and numbing cream will be applied for 30–90 minutes. Immediately before laser treatment, the cream is removed and the skin prepared and cleaned. Once the treated area is identified and confirmed by the patient, eye protection is worn by every person in the room. A variety of eye protection may be used for patients including the following: metal-lined adhesive pads, goggles, or eye shields – either over or under the eyelid. Next, the doctor will program the machine with appropriate settings and pick up a handpiece. The handpiece is placed on the skin, and then either a trigger or foot pedal is used to fire the pulse of laser energy targeting a 1–3 cm area of skin. The sensation during treatment is very brief and is often described as a heated pin-prick for each laser pulse. Treatment times vary due to the size of the area to be treated and machine used, but a typical treatment takes approximately 20–40 minutes.
Ablative fractional laser treatment requires moderately intense skin care (often ointments and diluted vinegar compresses) for 2–3 days, as microscopic areas of bleeding can be seen. Afterwards, a moisturizing sunblock is recommended.
Non-ablative fractional laser treatment is much easier to care for. Typically, cold compresses should be used as needed. It is important to use sunblock on a daily basis. Swelling may be improved by elevating the head at nighttime.
- Skin color change (temporary or permanent)
- Acne flare
- Sensitive skin
- Acne flare
- Skin color change (rarely permanent)