What is facial laser resurfacing?
Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center experts deliver the latest innovations in laser and light treatments for optimal results in your skin’s appearance.
What is laser & light-based facial treatment?
Laser and light-based facial treatment, also known as facial laser resurfacing or laser skin treatment, can help reduce fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes and pigmentation, such as freckles and sunspots, through direct, short, concentrated, pulsating beams of light. Also known as lasabrasion, laser peel and laser vaporization, this skin resurfacing technique covers a wide range of skin problems including facial aging, age spots, pigment changes, redness and other conditions.
They also range in aggressiveness and downtime, depending on the laser- or light-based device used. Some treatments (non-ablative lasers) require no downtime while others, (such as the Fraxel® fractional CO2 laser) require some downtime.
Why Choose Us
When considering facial laser resurfacing, always look for a board-certified cosmetic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience. For the best results, choose a cosmetic surgeon who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as Cleveland Clinic.
Make sure to ask your cosmetic surgeon about his or her credentials, training and how many procedures he or she has performed.
How to Prepare
Am I candidate for laser & light-based facial treatment?
You are an ideal candidate for facial laser skin resurfacing if you have fine lines or wrinkles around or under the eyes, forehead, or mouth; scars from acne; or skin that needs correcting after a facelift.
Laser and light-based skin resurfacing is a good option if you:
- Are physically healthy
- Have skin that is fair to light brown in color (darker skinned patients run greater risks of hyperpigmentation)
- Have a positive outlook and specific, but realistic goals in mind for improving your appearance.
The best way to determine if you are a candidate for laser and light-based treatment is through a consultation with an expert at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.
How do I prepare for laser and light-based facial treatment?
Preparation for laser and light-based treatment at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center includes:
- Avoiding sunbathing, tanning beds, waxing and any chemical peels or collagen injections for two weeks prior to the procedure
- Avoiding perfumes, deodorants or any potential irritants in the treatment area before and after treatment
- Avoiding aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements due to increased risk of bleeding
- Taking photographs of treated areas before and after your procedure to evaluate improvement.
Experts at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will also give careful consideration to your natural skin color and type to determine the treatment best suited for you to minimize the risk of developing additional pigmentation or a loss of pigmentation (whitening of the skin).
What to Expect
How is laser and light-based facial treatment performed?
Laser and light-based treatment at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is generally performed as an outpatient procedure. The laser technique directs short, concentrated, pulsating beams of light at problem areas of the skin, such as fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, forehead and mouth or to treat acne scarring and pigmentation issues.
There are primarily two types of laser and light-based treatments:
Ablative laser and light-based treatment is typically performed under general anesthesia and/or sedation, while non-ablative treatment does not require general anesthesia or sedation because it is less invasive and causes minimal discomfort.
What are the different types of laser and light-based facial treatment?
Ablative lasers were the first type of laser used for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and are still used for the same purpose.
Ablative lasers used for skin resurfacing include a carbon dioxide (CO2) or an Erbium: YAG (a type of metal enriched crystal) laser. They are used to:
- Remove skin very precisely, layer by layer, resulting in fewer problems with hypopigmentation (lightening of skin)
- Destroy the top layer of your skin to expose the lower layers and encourage new growth.
Non-ablative laser facial resurfacing uses a variety of lasers and light-based modalities, including:
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) to target the pigment in your skin and remove areas of discoloration
- Infrared lasers to treat wrinkles caused by sun damage by encouraging new skin to grow
- Radiofrequency to tighten the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles
- Photodynamic therapy to treat some skin cancers, but can also be used to treat certain skin conditions
- Non-ablative laser resurfacing to promote the development of new, more healthy collagen, helping to restore your skin’s contour and appearance with minimal down time
- Syneron®, which is a combination of intense pulse light and radio frequency energy that improves the overall quality of the skin including pigment changes, redness, fine lines and small veins. It is a non-invasive skin treatment with no downtown.
Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center also offers a new type of nonablative fractional laser technology known as the Fraxel® Laser Treatment (fractional CO2).
Fraxel® technology is a “fractional” carbon dioxide laser treatment that produces thousands of deep, tiny columns in your skin, called microthermal treatment zones. These are pinpoint island injuries in the skin while the surrounding tissue is left intact and healthy. By leaving healthy tissue, fractional laser technology makes healing faster and easier, with the pinpoint injury stimulating collagen in the deepest layers of the skin.
As these thousands of little pinpoints heal, there is an overall contraction in the skin, reducing fine lines and making the skin appear tighter and smoother. Also, when Fraxel® technology is used over a brown, sun-damaged area of skin, the pinpoint injuries heal with normal colored skin cells, erasing the brown spot forever.
What results can I expect?
The results of laser and light-based treatment vary depending on the technology or treatment prescribed for you at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.
These rejuvenation procedures can produce a marked improvement in skin conditions and your overall appearance. Technologies and treatments available are advancing rapidly and you may be surprised at the improvement that can be achieved by relatively simple procedures.
When properly performed, ablative laser and light-based treatment can visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines, and in some cases, deeper wrinkles. Yet, because ablative treatment targets the skin’s whole tissue layer of the entire face, burning away the epidermis layer of skin, your face may look and feel as if you have a severe sunburn. Your skin may be raw, ooze or blister for several days and then, once healed, may be red for several weeks.
Unlike ablative treatments, non-ablative treatments cause minimal discomfort following the procedure. Most people are generally able to return to their daily activities immediately, although they may appear “flushed.”
Even though the impact on the skin is less dramatic, non-ablative lasers are still able to achieve substantial improvement. For the best results, multiple non-ablative treatments may be necessary, usually spaced several weeks apart. In addition, continued treatments are often required to maintain results.
The results of both types of laser resurfacing are particularly noticeable after the initial healing and for about a year following the procedure. Follow-up with an expert at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure long-lasting results from ablative and non-ablative procedures. View our laser facial treatment before and after photos to see results from actual patients.
What is involved in recovery?
Your recovery from laser and light-based treatment will vary depending on the type of procedure you have. Many people plan to stay home for a few days after ablative laser treatment to decrease the chance of infection and to promote proper healing. After surgery, the area of the face that has been treated will weep similarly to an open blister.
Typically, within several days, the weeping will subside, and the treated area will appear as if it were sunburned. The treated area will remain red for several weeks. After one week, however, many people apply camouflage makeup and return to their normal activities. Redness will fade over six weeks to two months.
Recovery and downtime from non-ablative treatment is minimal, with most people experiencing only a “flushed” look and able to return to their daily activities right after the procedure.
Is laser and light-based treatment safe?
All surgical procedures carry some risk.
Ablative laser and light-based treatments can possibly be complicated by:
- Cold sores (herpes simplex)
- Darkening of the skin (particularly if exposed to the sun after surgery) Milia (small white elevated cysts of superficial skin) or cysts.
Non-ablative techniques can possibly cause:
- Temporary hyperpigmentation (skin darkening)
- Slight blisters
- Possibility of eye damage resulting from laser exposure to the eye itself
Is this procedure covered by health insurance?
As with all cosmetic procedures, laser and light based treatment is not typically covered by health insurance. If you'd like to learn more about the cost of facial laser resurfacing, ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.