As we grow older, time, sun and lifestyle take a toll on the skin. Luckily, modern medicine has a number of treatment options to help restore and improve the look of the skin. Fractional skin resurfacing, a type of laser treatment, is one of the newer treatments for facial skin. Here are the basics on fractional skin resurfacing, from Dr. Richard Kimmel, of The Kimmel Institute, in Boca Raton, Florida.
What’s Fractional Skin Resurfacing?
The surface of the skin is the area where damage and aging are most apparent, but layers underneath are also affected. The goal of resurfacing is to treat the uppermost layers, removing very thin sections of skin. As the area heals, new skin replaces the damaged skin. A laser can remove very thin layers, causing minimal damage to surrounding skin – fractional skin resurfacing is very precise, which is one of its significant benefits. It is typically used only on the face, as areas like the hands, neck, and chest don’t heal as well.
How Does Fractional Skin Resurfacing Work?
Lasers send out short pulses of high-energy light. The skin contains water and substances called chromophores – atoms in the skin that affect its ability to absorb light. Once absorbed, the light changes to heat energy, which literally vaporizes very thin sections of skin, one layer at a time. The skin gradually heals, replacing the damaged skin with fresh new skin cells and restoring the look of youth. Laser treatments may also tighten the skin. The advantage of fractional skin resurfacing is that it treats microscopic columns of skin and leaves untreated areas as well, which decreases bleeding and scabbing.
Fractional Skin Resurfacing – the Procedure
Fractional skin resurfacing is performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient surgery center. Once the skin is cleaned, your doctor will administer appropriate anesthetic – in most cases, this will be a local anesthetic – and you may also receive some medication to help you relax. You’ll wear goggles to protect your eyes. The laser is slowly passed over the skin, after which it is wiped with salt water to cool the skin and remove the tissue. Some patients report feeling a stinging, burning or snapping sensation on the skin. There is usually little or no bleeding. A clean dressing or an ointment are then applied to the treated skin.
Aftercare and Recovery
The time needed for healing depends on how large an area has been treated and how deep the treatment was. The skin is usually pink, tender and swollen for several days and the skin may remain red for a few weeks even after it is healed. Cold packs and over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help with any discomfort. To prevent infection and help the skin heal, you must rinse the skin several times a day with cool tap water (this also helps remove crusts) and change the dressing or apply ointment. You must also stay out of the sun and avoid soaps or perfumes.
Fractional skin resurfacing can make a big difference in your appearance. If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, please contact us.