What do skincare and James Bond have in common? Besides being timeless, both know how to handle close encounters with lasers. Strike that. Skincare might handle lasers far more adeptly than 007.
Laser skin treatments are one of the many types of facials that can help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and acne. Lasers can also brighten skin tone, smooth skin texture, and restore elasticity and plumpness to your face.
This guide will cover how lasers work when it comes to skincare, types of laser treatment for the face, and the best way to enhance the effects of any laser treatment.
How Do Laser Treatments Work? A Crash Course in Lasers
A little knowledge goes a long way when it comes to figuring out which laser treatment will be right for you.
What Exactly Is A Laser?
The answer to this question lies in the word itself. “Laser” is an acronym:
To really understand what a laser does, let’s take a trip back to science class and understand light.
All light travels in waves, and the distance between each wave’s peak is called a wavelength. The light we see each glowing from lightbulbs or shining on our skin as we lounge by the pool contains a mix of different light colors, and each color has its own wavelength. For example, red light has a longer wavelength than blue light. All of these different wavelengths together create a “white” or neutral light—this is the light we see from the sun and our light bulbs.
Think of each light color like a different instrument, each playing a song at their own tempo. Kind of noisy and unfocused, but is it music? In the general sense, sure—this is natural light.
A laser is technically a light, but it’s a little different than our day-to-day light sources. Lasers produce light of similar wavelengths, creating a narrow beam of concentrated light. These artificially created lights are like a brass band playing the same tune at the same tempo—focused, precise, and powerful 1.
What is a Laser Facial Procedure?
Lasers and skincare are a match made in dermatological heaven. Lasers permeate through the layers of skin to help promote collagen and elastin growth. Did you know that collagen production starts to decline around age 25, and continues on this downward trend, picking up steam in women after menopause? This is why many women have turned to laser treatments.
The more collagen your cells produce, the better your skin looks.
How Do Laser Treatments Work?
Different lasers do different things, but they all work in a similar way. The intensely focused light supports old, damaged skin on a cellular level. From there, the laser heats and damages the deeper layers of the skin. But don’t worry, this damage is actually a fantastic thing. Lasers force your body’s skin systems to go into an ultra-healing mode. When the skin cells are damaged by a laser, your body responds by producing rejuvenating collagen. Therefore, this laser therapy works to improve your skin texture and the overall appearance of any skin type.
After your recovery time is up, your skin will be smoother, brighter, more even, and firmer—especially if you’re prepping and caring for your skin using our Regenerating Skin Nectar with TriHex Technology®. Recommended by dermatologists everywhere, this incredible formula directly supports your cell’s collagen and elastin production, speeds recovery time and makes your laser treatment results last even longer.
Ablative, Non-Ablative, and Fractional Lasers
Two words you’ll hear when learning more about laser therapy treatments are “ablative” and “non-ablative.” Understanding the difference can help you determine which laser skin treatment is right for you 2 .
- Ablative – An ablative laser is more invasive than a non-ablative laser. This laser wounds the skin by removing the outer layer of the skin—the epidermis—while heating and slightly damaging the deeper skin layers. This promotes a huge increase in your body’s collagen and elastin production and will leave skin feeling smoother and tighter.
- Non-Ablative – A non-ablative laser is much less invasive than an ablative laser. Instead of damaging the skin’s surface, it heats the mid and lower levels of skin. However, both procedures result in increased collagen production, and rejuvenated skin
The main differences between these two? Invasiveness, recovery, and results.
An ablative laser treatment is more invasive which means the recovery time can be longer. Non-ablative lasers are less invasive, meaning the recovery time is typically shorter.
While non-ablative procedures are less invasive, the results are not as great as ablative. Ablative procedures require only one or two sessions to achieve maximum results. Meanwhile, you may need between four to six non-ablative treatments to get the same effects.
But ablative and non-ablative lasers do have one thing in common—both types of lasers can also be fractional lasers.
- Fractional Lasers – Think of fractional lasers like a meat tenderizer. The impact zone where you tenderize your meat isn’t a smooth surface like the head of a hammer. It actually looks like a grid. Now imagine pressing the tenderizer into a cut of meat—it leaves indents where the meat made contact with the tenderizer, and places where the meat is untouched from the spaces on the tenderizer’s gridded surface.
Fractional lasers help to reduce recovery time, give the skin specialist more control over the treatment. Bonus? Aesthetic practices offer fractional varieties of both ablative and non-ablative lasers.
Top 5 Types of Laser Treatments for The Face
Now that you’ve mastered the nuances of lasers and have become a veritable 007 of skincare, here are the 5 most popular laser treatments for your face 3 :
#1 Ablative Fractional CO2 Lasers
Ablative fractional CO2 resurfacing promotes collagen production and tighter, firmer, smoother skin by removing columns of skin cells throughout the layers of the face, neck, and chest. This powerful laser treatment targets:
- Dull skin
- Fine lines and moderate to deep wrinkles
- Age spots
- Acne scars and other shallow scars
- Skin laxity
Ablative fractional C02 lasers are extremely effective, yet invasive—that means this treatment has a longer recovery time of up to two weeks.
#2 Pulsed-Dye Lasers
This non-ablative laser procedure heats and partially damages the skin layers beneath the epidermis—the topmost layers of skin. As a result, the skin heals, leaving behind even skin tone and texture. Pulsed-dye lasers work especially well with combatting pigmentation problems. Pulsed-dye lasers are known to do the following:
- Decrease redness
- Reduce hyperpigmentation
- Cut down on broken capillaries and rosacea
Since this procedure is non-ablative, the recovery time takes anywhere from a few days to just about a week. This laser therapy is still going to give damaged skin a rejuvenated appearance with the added benefit of less recovery time than its invasive counterpart, an ablative laser treatment.
#3 Non-Ablative Fractional Lasers
All the power of a fractional laser with the “gentleness” of a non-ablative laser, non-ablative fractional lasers are elegant skincare solutions. By heating and slightly damaging just the deeper layers of skin, your body’s collagen growth will increase and the older, dryer, and less attractive skin cells will be cleared away.
Non-ablative fractional lasers can:
- Brighten skin tone
- Smooth out fine lines and wrinkles
- Lighten dark spots
- Reduce the appearance of scars
Recovery time for this laser treatment is short and sweet, about one to three days. However, for optimal results, you’ll need to return for additional skin resurfacing treatments.
#4 Erbium Laser Treatment
Erbium lasers promote collagen growth and natural skin remodeling. They can be ablative or non-ablative, making them a great choice for your first treatment. You might consider erbium laser treatments if your skin concerns include the following:
- Fine lines
- Loose skin
Recovery time for this treatment depends on whether your specialist recommends an ablative or non-ablative laser. An ablative erbium laser treatment will take longer time for your skin to recover, a non-ablative erbium laser treatment will take less.
#5 Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
Though technically not a laser, IPL uses the power of light to bring youthfulness to your skin. In a process referred to as “photo rejuvenation,” IPL specialists use a broad spectrum of light wavelengths to target your skin’s problem areas. This non-invasive (and non-ablative) is especially good for treating the following conditions:
- Spider veins
- Uneven skin tone
- Fine lines
Because skin isn’t damaged during this process, IPL has almost zero recovery time.
ALASTIN: Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Laser Treatment
Every laser treatment gets you closer to revealing your most beautiful and radiant skin. No matter which procedure you choose, you’re on your way to rejuvenation. Understanding how to take care of your face after a laser treatment as well as before a treatment can make the difference between great skin and gorgeous skin.
Preparing your skin before your procedure is similar to clearing your garden of weeds, fertilizing and preparing the soil, before planting your new garden. Helping your skin start clearing out damaged collagen and elastin before the laser procedure will make way for all the great new healthy collagen and elastin you are about to create after the procedure.
Make the most of your laser treatment with our Procedure Enhancement System utilizing patented TriHex Technology®. These unique formulas are backed by science and specifically engineered to help prepare the skin for laser treatments and help reduce the time it takes to recover.
Skincare treatments have taken huge strides in variety and effectiveness. Luckily, we have all the information you need on different procedures both ablative and non-ablative. With the help of ALASTIN, you’ll be on track to healthier and happier skin!
1. NASA. “What Is a Laser? | NASA Space Place – NASA Science for Kids.” NASA, spaceplace.nasa.gov/laser/en. Accessed 22 July 2020.
2. Laser Resurfacing - Mayo Clinic.” Mayo Clinic, 24 Jan. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/laser-resurfacing/about/pac-20385114
3. Laser Skin Resurfacing: Top 8 Things You Need to Know.” American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/skin-resurfacing/the-top-8-things-you-need-to-know-about-laser-skin-resurfacing