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Skin Resurfacing Is It A True Anti aging Option?

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What is Skin Resurfacing? How Does Skin Resurfacing Work?

The face is often the first area of the body to show signs of aging. This is because the face is exposed to the elements more often. Sun damage, wind exposure, washing with harsh cleansers, and forgetting to remove makeup can all contribute to facial skin that ages more quickly. Since our faces are the first things that other people see, we rely on our faces to make a good first impression. So, although we may be healthy and satisfied with the look of our bodies, and have generally high self-esteem, we may find ourselves wishing our faces looked younger and fresher. Fraxel Before After

Although the same advice that applies to losing weight and living longer also applies to looking youthful (eating fresh, healthy foods with no chemical preservatives or pesticides, getting regular cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercise, drinking plenty of water and avoiding smoking and alcohol) sometimes people feel that the results from lifestyle alone are not enough. Or perhaps the damage has been done by a previous unhealthy lifestyle, and even changing to a healthier routine just can't undo that. It is good advice to try lifestyle changes and healthy, natural supplements before resorting to more drastic measures, but every person has to decide for him or herself what method is best.

Types of Skin Resurfacing

Many people turn to skin resurfacing procedures in order to get that fresh, renewed, youthful look. Chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser skin resurfacing are all methods of getting your face to renew itself with a more youthful glow (and fewer lines and wrinkles) than it had before. While chemical peels and dermabrasion are nothing new, laser skin resurfacing is a relatively new technology that offers shorter recovery times and, in many cases, superior results.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels use a chemical applied to the skin to cause damage to a certain number of layers of skin. The skin responds by healing not only the new damage, but some of the damage (aging) that was present before the peel. Usually the chemicals used are acids, with different acids being used for different purposes. Chemical peels can be used to treat fine lines or deeper wrinkles, skin unevenness or discoloration, freckles, scars, and age spots. The harsher the chemical used, the better the results can be, but there is a higher risk of side effects including burns and bleaching of the skin color.


Dermabrasion, on the other hand, causes damage by abrasion, as the name suggests. Technically, dermabrasion is almost like taking fine sandpaper to your face. Of course, you will never look younger from scrubbing your face with sandpaper! The practitioner who performs dermabrasion uses a quickly rotating instrument with a very finely abrasive surface to cause a carefully calculated level of damage which will prompt your skin to heal, just as with chemical peels. Dermabrasion may cause slight bleeding during the procedure. It can also make you feel like you have a bad sunburn while you are recovering.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Since laser technology is being used for everything nowadays, from shrinking tumors to hair removal, it is no surprise that it is also being used for skin resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing gives surgeons more precise control over how much damage is done to the skin, to what layer of skin the damage is done and also allows them to precisely target very small areas (like unwanted freckles.) Laser technology, because it is more precise, allows for shorter healing time, fewer side effects, and better results for many conditions. Laser skin resurfacing is also called lasabrasion and laser peel.

Different Laser Skin Resurfacing Lasers

One of the best things about laser cosmetic treatments is that certain laser types can be used on darker skin tones. Chemical peels can't be used on darker skin because of the risk of bleaching or lightening of the skin to lighter than its original color. This would result in facial skin color not matching the color of the rest of the body. With erbium laser technology, darker skin colors can be treated, although a doctor may still advise against very dark skin being treated. There are also certain creams that can be applied regularly in the months leading up to the laser skin resurfacing procedure that can reduce the risk of skin lightening. Check with your practitioner during your consultation. Erbium lasers can also be used in lighter-skinned people, and can be better for treating deeper wrinkles.

Laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat many of the same problems as traditional skin resurfacing procedures. Discoloration, (when some patches of the skin are lighter or darker than others), scars (including acne scars,) unwanted freckles, fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging can be addressed by laser skin resurfacing. At this time, laser skin resurfacing is not recommended for stretch marks or when there is active acne in the area being treated.

There are two main kinds of lasers used in laser skin resurfacing, with each type producing superior results in different circumstances. Erbium lasers are especially good for darker skin or for eliminating deeper wrinkles, as mentioned before, and CO2 (carbon dioxide) lasers are generally better for treating scars and warts. Recovery time is often shorter with an erbium laser, but an experienced practitioner will help you decide which laser will produce the best results overall for what you're trying to achieve. Since using laser light on the skin carries a risk of burning, there are different techniques to make this procedure as safe as possible. For example, some lasers use short pulses to avoid overheating the skin in one area, whereas some lasers use a “scanning” technique over a larger area so as not to overwhelm one area with heat. Fraxel Laser

Fractional Laser Resurfacing, or “Fraxel”

There is another kind of laser treatment which is relatively new. This treatment is called fractional laser treatment, and one of the brand names available is Fraxel. This laser treatment “drills” through the skin in certain points, rather than treating the entire surface area of the skin. This allows the laser to penetrate to deeper areas of skin, which activates more of the body's own growth and healing, while damaging less of the surface skin. This means that results are generally better, with more wrinkles being erased, with less recovery time. Fractional laser treatments can even cause a “facelift” effect, because collagen is produced in the “holes” that are drilled which pulls them closer together and tightens the skin. Fractional laser resurfacing is gaining in popularity, and may be called a “laser facelift” at certain medical spas.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Side Effects and Cautions

When thinking about any kind of medical cosmetic procedure, it is important to do your research and think very carefully before committing to anything. Even though skin resurfacing is not an invasive surgery, it is still possible for negative effects to occur, including permanent ones. If sticking to a healthy lifestyle is not producing the results that you want (and you might be surprised at the difference that eliminating junk food, drinking lots of water, getting exercise, and taking natural supplements like vitamins can make) and you have your heart set on a cosmetic procedure, consult your regular doctor (and not just a doctor who performs the procedure and wants your business) about whether it will be safe for you.

Potential side effects of laser skin resurfacing include pain, swelling, redness, lightening of the skin in treated areas, burning, including the a small risk of serious burns, and scarring. The chances of experiencing a serious side effect are higher if you do not follow your practitioner's pre- and post-procedure directions exactly, or if the procedure is done by an inferior practitioner. Always carefully check the qualifications and experience of the person who will be operating the laser (many med-spas are overseen by qualified doctors, but technicians with little medical training are actually doing the procedures) and follow all directions carefully and completely.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedures-- Pre and Post Treatment

Obviously the specifics of your experience will be different depending on what laser is being used, what you are treating, the condition of your skin, your general health, and what your doctor or practitioner recommends. However, data gathered from realself.com shows many similarities across patients all over the world. Some doctors prescribe pre-treatment creams to be applied in the weeks before the procedure. Darker-skinned patients especially may have to follow this regimen. On the day of the procedure, patients must usually apply a numbing cream over the area to be treated and let it sit for an hour. Although general anesthesia is sometimes used for these kinds of treatments, usually a numbing cream is enough.

After the procedure, some swelling, pain, and redness is normal. The skin will crust and peel 1-2 weeks after the procedure. Redness can actually last for several months afterwards. Be sure to ask your practitioner how long you must leave your face “clean” before being able to apply makeup if you plan on hiding the redness. Your practitioner will also tell you how long to expect the pain and swelling to last, and should prescribe you painkillers, as well as be available in case anything unexpected happens with your recovery.

You will likely be told to keep your exposure to sunlight as close to absolute zero as possible by using high SPF sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats, and staying indoors. Ignoring this part of your aftercare greatly increases the chance of scarring and facial discoloration.  You will probably also have to apply a thick, super-moisturizing substance to your face several times a day for the first few weeks. Again, following directions as well as you possibly can is extremely important if you want to see the best results possible.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedures—Results

A quick internet search reveals that there are people who are thrilled with their laser resurfacing results, people who are angry because they ended up with scars, and people who are somewhat satisfied, but didn't think the results were dramatic enough to be worth the money. As mentioned before, research, communication with your practitioner, and adherence to pre- and post-treatment directions will help you get the best results you can possibly get. Of course, how dramatic your results are depend on a lot of factors, such as your general health and how well your body heals (which isn't always possible to predict.)

One thing to be prepared for is that results are not instant. The laser skin resurfacing damages your skin tissue in a targeted way, and then you must wait for the healing effects to show. It may take a few months for your skin to regenerate itself, with fewer lines and wrinkles than before. The tightening effect will also take some time. The upside to this is that you won't return to work looking like you had work done. As your skin heals over time, you will just look younger and more refreshed, and no one will be the wiser unless you choose to reveal your secret!

It's important to remember that a cosmetic procedure like laser skin resurfacing might make you look better on the outside, but it can't change you on the inside. The aging process will still be going on inside of you, and laser resurfacing is temporary. You can't turn back the clock permanently. If you want your results to last longer, a healthy lifestyle mostly free of “junk food” and artificial ingredients, full of exercise, and anti-aging supplements will help keep that youthful glow emanating from within. Remember that long term health and happiness don't come from a laser!

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