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Ask the Experts: Laser Skin Resurfacing

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Ask the Experts: Laser Skin Resurfacing

There’s a whole different world underneath the skin’s visible surface. Think of skin as an onion with many layers — and the epidermis (the upper most layer) is just one of many. 

Why are we telling you about these layers? So you can fully understand what laser skin resurfacing is, how it works to treat certain skin conditions, and why it’s such a popular procedure you should definitely consider. 

Understanding Laser Skin Resurfacing: The Skin’s Layers 

Hypodermis

The hypodermis is the thickest and deepest layer of the skin. Made up of mostly fats, the hypodermis anchors the skin to the bones and supports the skin’s remaining layers.

As we age, we lose fats in the hypodermis. Topical skin products can’t penetrate at this depth, so your only bet in slowing down collagen loss is to stay hydrated, regularly wear sunscreen, and avoid vices such as smoking.

The Dermis

The dermis is where elastin, hair follicles, oil glands, sweat glands, connective tissues, blood supply, and collagen are located. It’s essentially where the elements that make our skin healthy are located. This is also where most skin problems such as clogged pores and pimples start.

Can active ingredients reach the dermis? Typically, no. But thanks to penetration enhancers, such as oleic acid and certain alcohols, some of the active ingredients in skin care products can reach this far down.

The Acid Mantle and Epidermis

On top of the dermis is a thin layer of hydro-film called the “acid mantle.” It’s what’s commonly known as the “gatekeeper” or the “moisture barrier.”

The acid mantle acts as the skin’s protective shield, preventing infections from occurring. When we use products with harsh ingredients, it’s usually the balance in the acid mantle that gets disrupted. 

Whatever problems there are underneath — dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, acne scars, melasma, etc. — visibly manifests itself on the uppermost skin layer, the epidermis.

 laser skin resurfacing being performed on a hand

What Does Laser Skin Resurfacing Do?

Laser skin resurfacing, also known as laser vaporization, laser peel, and lasabrasion, uses short and concentrated pulsating beams of light to remove the skin, layer by layer. It’s very precise, so it focuses on just the problematic areas.

The light “vaporizes” the epidermis and heats the dermis at the same time. The heat stimulates the growth of new collagen fibres. As the treated area heals, the new epidermis that forms is firmer and smoother.

Is The Procedure Painful?

Vaporizing the first layer of the skin sounds painful—but will it actually hurt?

Most doctors and patients compare the sensation of laser skin resurfacing with a rubber band snapping against the skin. Whether that’s painful or not depends on the person’s discomfort threshold.

Aside from the patient’s tolerance, the laser method, treatment area, and depth also play a role in the level of discomfort you will feel while undergoing the procedure.

Generally, there are two types of laser procedures: ablative and non-ablative. 

  • Ablative Laser

Deeper ablative laser methods (where the epidermis will be removed) may require local anesthetic injections or intravenous sedation. Examples of abrasive laser methods include CO2 laser and erbium laser.

  • Non-Ablative Laser

This type of laser can pass through the skin without removing any layers. With a topical numbing cream, a non-ablative laser can cause little to no pain.

Ablative vs. Non-ablative Laser: Which One Is Right for You?

How do you know if you should opt for ablative or non-ablative laser skin resurfacing? It all depends on what your skin needs. 

A non-ablative laser will work if you’re:

  • Between 25 and 65 years old;
  • Have shallow acne scars;
  • Mild to moderate signs of facial aging, discolouration, and sun damage;
  • Willing to undergo multiple treatments; and
  • Can’t take time off work. 

 However, your best option is ablative laser skin resurfacing if:

  • You have pitted facial scars; 
  • Significant facial aging and sun damage is among your skin concerns;
  • You would like to see fast results; and
  • Taking time off from work to recover is feasible.

a client being prepped for laser skin resurfacing treatment

Who Performs the Treatment Makes a Big Difference 

Laser skin resurfacing can be ineffective and dangerous when performed by someone with poor training. But it reveals extraordinary results when done by a skin expert.

APT Medical Aesthetics is one of the leading clinics in Ontario, with many years of experience in performing successful laser skin resurfacing procedures. Our team of experts are dedicated to providing clients with reliable, world-class treatments to help them feel and look their absolute best. 

Visit us for a free consultation or get in touch with us to discover the best solutions for your skincare needs. 

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