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What Is Laser Skin Resurfacing?


Laser skin resurfacing is a treatment that removes the top layers of your skin to improve skin texture and tone. Laser resurfacing can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and it is also a good for treating pigmentation disorders, such as sun damage and age spots.  View some of our laser resurfacing photos.

During the laser resurfacing procedure, an intense beam of light energy (laser) is directed at the treatment area which destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and at the same time heats the underlying skin (dermis) to stimulate the growth of new collagen fibers. As the wound heals, new skin forms that is smoother and tighter.

Laser skin resurfacing allows the doctor to treat delicate facial areas (such as those around your eyes and lips) very precisely as the laser gives them more control over the penetration of the skin than some other resurfacing treatments, such as chemical peels and dermabrasion.

There are two main types of ablative laser: the original machines used were carbon dioxide (co2) lasers, and more recently Erbium YAG laser systems have been introduced. There are also many kinds of light devices, which deliver various different types of light for an ever-increasing number of potential uses including skin rejuvenation, hair removal and pigmentation disorders or scarring.

Am I a Candidate? Skin resurfacing is good for candidates who wish to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face. In addition to skin rejuvenation, laser resurfacing can also be used to remove acne scars and other facial scars and to smooth out skin that has become discoloured due to sun damage or age spots. Find out if you are a candidate for facial laser resurfacing.

Before the Procedure – There are different treatment options depending on the area to be treated and the type of laser system used will differ according to how dramatic you would like the results to be. It is important to discuss the alternatives with a reputable, experienced practitioner, and also to set out your expectations of the laser resurfacing treatment so a practitioner can judge whether they are attainable. Before treatment, some doctors like to test a patch of skin to familiarise the patient with the technique and educate them about the healing process. The skin test will also check for any tendency for pigment change or scarring in your skin.

During Treatment – Many clinics will recommend some form of pre-treatment to the skin 2 weeks before the procedure; these can include retinoic acid, or alpha-hydroxy acid based creams, which help to condition the skin and improve healing after the operation. For ablative laser skin resurfacing, two main types of laser are generally used – the Carbon Dioxide laser (also known as the CO2 laser) and Erbium Yag lasers. Both of these lasers operate in a wavelength (or colour of light) that is attracted to water molecules contained in the skin. A local anaesthetic will usually be applied to the treatment area to lessen any discomfort then the area is cleansed. The laser will then be passed over the skin, and each time the laser moves over the skin, some of the outermost layers of the skin are removed in a precise and controlled way to the appropriate depth. A loud cracking noise can occur as the laser beams are emitted but this is quite normal! Depending upon the type of laser used, this procedure can take from 15-30 minutes for small treatment areas, up to an hour or more for full face resurfacing.

Recovery – Depending upon the depth of treatment, recovery time may vary from 1-2 weeks. A second treatment can be undertaken after 6-12 months to improve the results.  Learn more about the laser resurfacing recovery.

Benefits – Laser technology has developed over the last few decades to treat skin problems including sun damage, the removal of body hair and the treatment of psoriasis and acne. Commonly, laser skin resurfacing is used to reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and uneven pigment by removing the outer layers of damaged skin and encouraging the production of collagen to plump and rejuvenate the skin.

Risks and Complications – Immediately after laser skin resurfacing, your skin will feel raw and you may experience some fluid weeping from the area treated. This will take 3-8 days to heal, depending on the extent and depth of the procedure. Some skin discolouration or redness may occur and can last for several weeks following the procedure. Rare side effects or risks after laser skin resurfacing can include infection, itching, swelling and pain at the treatment site.

Laser Resurfacing Cost – The cost of laser skin resurfacing can range from £1,000-£4,000 depending on the size of the treatment area.

Choosing a Practitioner – A suitably trained and experienced doctor or cosmetic surgeon should perform skin resurfacing treatments using ablative lasers. Please also note that all clinics in the U.K offering laser treatments should be registered with the Care Quality Commission to ensure that they meet the required standards for the safe operation and maintenance of these machines.

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