A fractional resurfacing laser is a non-invasive treatment for signs of aging, including sun spots, blotchiness, and loose, sagging skin. The fractional resurfacing laser targets small areas of skin, leaving surrounding areas untouched, which allows for a quicker recovery time after the procedure. The advantage of fractional laser over other types of laser resurfacing is that the fractional laser creates less damage and the healing time is quicker.
After treatment with a fractional laser, the patient can expect some redness and swelling for the first week, along with some minor peeling. In rare cases, the patient may develop an infection or experience scarring from the procedure. More aggressive laser treatments may leave skin red, peeling and swollen for several weeks. Other types of laser therapy have a greater risk of negative side effects, such as infections and scarring.
Fractional resurfacing laser treatments typically last approximately 30 minutes, and it may take four to six procedures to achieve the desired results. Results from this therapy will not be noticeable immediately. Improvements in the skin's tone and texture will occur gradually over a period of two to three months. The benefits of laser resurfacing are long-lasting, but not permanent. Depending on the individual, positive results from fractional resurfacing last between eight and ten years.
The results from fractional resurfacing are less dramatic than a facelift, but produce more noticeable results than dermabrasion and chemical peels. Fractional resurfacing is non-invasive and less expensive than surgical procedures, and provides visible improvement to the skin. The laser uses heat to damage skin cells, which stimulates the production of collagen. The actual procedure is relatively painless, the patient may feel a slight prickling sensation. The healthcare provider applies topical numbing cream and uses an air cooling system to keep the patient comfortable during the procedure.
During the aging process, collagen and elastin in the skin become weak, leading to the development of fine lines and sagging skin. The fractional resurfacing laser creates small pockets of damage in the skin cells. This stimulates the body to produce more collagen and elastin, tightening and firming the skin. Laser therapy can be used on other body parts that show signs of aging, such as the backs of the hands, neck, and chest.