Lasers are used to treat a wide array of skin issues, from wrinkles and discoloration to sun damage, and even to boost collagen production. One thing to remember: It's important to use sunscreen after any laser treatment due to the skin's heightened sensitivity.
Ablative lasers and their uses
These lasers vaporize the surface layers of the skin. Because the lasers form wounds that must heal completely, these treatments come with serious downtime and meticulous post-treatment care. Upon healing, a fresh, new, healthy layer of skin is revealed.
- CO2: Pronounced lines and wrinkles, irregular pigmentation, acne scars and scarring from previous laser treatment.
- Erbium (Er:YAG): Fine wrinkles and other skin surface irregularities, such as acne scars and irregular pigmentation.
Non-ablative lasers and their uses
Leaving the upper layers of the skin intact, these lasers generate heat in the dermis to stimulate collagen production and improve the texture and tone of the skin. Treatments involve topical anesthetic at most and little (if any) downtime.
- CoolTouch (Nd:YAG): Improving skin tone and boosting collagen production in all skin types and colors, acne scars, large pores.
- Q-Switched (Nd:YAG): Blue and black tattoos, dark pigmentation.
- SmoothBeam: Acne, acne scars and fine wrinkles.
- Pulsed Dye: Fine lines around the eyes, collagen rejuvenation, spider veins, broken capillaries, birthmarks, dark scars.
- Alexandrite/Ruby: Hair removal, including darker complexions.
- Diode: Hair removal, broken blood vessels, pigmented lesions (birthmarks).
- ClearLight: Acne.
- IPL: A broad spectrum (as opposed to a single wavelength) of light is directed into the skin. Though not technically a laser, IPL is based on similar physics principles. IPL is used for hair removal, broken capillaries, acne, pigmentation changes (sun spots), actinic keratoses and photorejuvenation.
- Fraxel SR: This hybrid laser offers the results of an ablative laser with none of the downtime by treating a fraction of the skin's surface at a time. Fraxel is used for fine lines and irregular pigmentation.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT): Photodynamic therapy involves application of a medicine called Levulan to the skin followed by exposure to one of several types of light sources to activate the drug. The light source can be a laser, an Intense Pulsed Light instrument or a special blue-light device. PDT is used for the removal of precancerous spots, acne, irregular pigmentation and fine lines.