Collagen is what keeps our skin strong and supple, sustains the skin cell renewal and replacement of damaged cells. Our bodies produce collagen in abundance when young, but unfortunately, production starts to decline at about age 25 and continues. Factors such as exposure to UV light, tobacco, excessive intake of sugar, and hormonal changes (menopause) exacerbate collagen loss. These changes result in a decrease in skin elasticity, skin thinning, more wrinkles and sagging, and the skin becomes more vulnerable and easily damaged.
While there is no way to prevent collagen loss, there are means to stimulate increased collagen production. Laser resurfacing technologies represent a great asset in the cosmetic surgeon’s repertoire to improve the tone, texture, and pigmentation of the skin. Although laser resurfacing is not a substitute for a facelift or blepharoplasty, the appropriate laser not only tightens the skin but also improves the appearance of dark spots, wrinkles, skin texture, and a wide variety of scars.
What kind of lasers are there?
There are ablative and nonablative lasers, as well as fractionated and nonfractionated lasers. Nonfractionated lasers act on the entire surface area of the treated skin, whereas fractionated lasers target an equally distributed portion of the area.
Ablative lasers remove the top layer of the skin and therefore are more aggressive compared with the gentler nonablative lasers that leave the skin intact. Although ablative lasers result in more downtime, they remain the lasers that produce the most dramatic outcomes. For more severe facial wrinkles, pigmentation, and textural skin challenges, the ablative laser is often the treatment of choice.
For patients seeking more moderate improvement with less downtime, nonablative lasers are often ideal. These lasers leave the epidermis intact while producing rejuvenating skin effects. Nonablative laser treatments also minimize the appearances of finer wrinkles, ameliorate the texture and tone of the skin, and treat pigmentation/discoloration. By comparison, the treatments are gentler and require little to no downtime but produce a more moderate response. A series of treatments (average of 3) is often recommended to achieve the best results.
Ultimately, a patient’s needs dictate the selection of the ideal laser. During a consultation, Dr. Levin assesses each patient’s concerns, goals and expectations, to come up with the best treatment plan.