So, What's The Deal With Lasers?

Laser facial treatments are all the rage in the skincare world today. But honestly, does anyone know what they really do? We'd like to present the know-it-all's guide to laser skin treatment.
korahkorah
Mar. 19, 2020
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Cherie is an online community of beauty lovers sharing their stories, whether that's their favorite products, makeup tutorials, or skincare routines. Download the app today to be a part of #BeautyWithoutBarriers and show the world what beauty means to you! Laser facial treatments are all the rage in the skincare world today. I, for one, don't really know anything about them, but I'm SO curious. What do they do? Why do so many people care? After some late-night research, I'd like to present the know-it-all's guide to laser skin treatment.First thing's first; what are lasers? The last time I thought about lasers was in my tenth grade chemistry class — needless to say I remember next to nothing. However, what most people don't know (myself and most of Team Cherie included) is that the word "lasers" is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. In simpler terms, a laser is a single-wavelength (one color of light) source of high-energy light, which can be accurately focused to transmit that light onto a very small area.
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What are the different types of lasers?When it comes to cosmetic lasers, there are two typical types that can be used: ablative and nonablative. Ablative lasers vaporize the top layers of damaged skin, while non-ablative lasers work deeper in the skin without removing or otherwise damaging the top layers. Ablative lasers (CO2 and Erbium YAG lasers) are used to treat significant facial aging, deep or pitted scars, and/or significant and severe pigmentation, while non-ablative lasers (pulsed-dye, ND: Yag, and Alexandrite lasers) are used for fine lines and wrinkles, light acne scarring, and evening skin tone. Because non-ablative lasers are relatively non-invasive, there is typically no down time associated with cosmetic procedures that employ solely nonablative laser technology.How do lasers work?Ablative lasers: Ablative lasers remove the thin outer layer of skin and heats up the underlying skin, which helps stimulate the growth of new collagen fibers. As the outer layer of skin heals, the area grows back smoother and tighter. Types of ablative treatments include carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers, the erbium laser, and combination systems. Nonablative lasers: Nonablative lasers stimulate collagen growth without wounding the skin and, over time, helps improve skin tone and texture. This type of laser is less abrasive and requires less recovery time than ablative lasers, but it is less effective.
Photo c/o medspalkn.com/
Photo c/o medspalkn.com/
Why so many different types of lasers?While there are two main types of lasers, they can be broken down into dozens of subcategories and it can be a bit overwhelming. However, the types differ in one major aspect: wavelength. Different laser wavelengths, or colors of light, target different skin issues so a combination of different lasers are typically recommended by most surgeons.What lasers work for different skin issues?Fine lines and wrinkles: For treating fine lines and wrinkles, a combination of skin resurfacing and skin-tightening procedures can be used or both can be accomplished with a more aggressive ablative laser. Skin tightening: Most cosmetic laser procedures provide at least some level of superficial tightening because they produce a controlled injury of the skin, which encourages increased collagen production. Hyperpigmentation: The most commonly used lasers for the treatment of pigmented lesions, such as sun spots, age spots, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation are the pulsed dye, Nd:YAG, and fractional (Fraxel) lasers, along with nonlaser, light-based treatments, such as IPL. Acne and acne scars: For acne scars, the CO2 laser remains the gold standard, although more recent developments such as the erbium:YAG, fractional laser and certain nonablative lasers have proven to be very effective.
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