Laser Scar Removal
The presence of scars can often cause embarrassment and even discomfort but there are ways to prevent scars in the first place and to treat them if and when they should occur. Laser resurfacing is one method of laser scar removal where the damaged top layer of skin is removed while the middle layer is exposed and firmed to reveal a smoother skin.
One of the main reasons for scarring, particularly in teens and young adults is acne. This can often mean low self esteem. There are three types of acne skin conditions that can lead to scarring:
- Acne vulgaris is the most common type of acne, and includes blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. It is the papules that you have to be careful of for scarring.
- Acne rosacea can be confused with the acne vulgaris, affecting millions of people and appearing as a red rash normally on the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. In more advanced stages of rosacea, scarring is a possibility.
- Cystic acne is one of the more severe types of acne and almost always leaves some degree of scarring behind. Such a cystic acne scar takes a long time to heal and at worst can leave behind a permanent reminder with pits and marks which in some cases can stretch across a wide area of skin.
Of course, acne is only one of the causes and scars can also be created when when your skin repairs a wound caused by an accident, infection, inflammation or surgery. Scars vary in shape and size. They may start out red and thick and then fade over time or they may become flat, sunken or be raised above the skin. Those who have to endure scarring will look for a way to reduce or even eliminate their scars.
Recently, skin laser technology has advanced considerably so that much can be done to treat scars. Laser scar removal or reduction is a common procedure performed in a dermatologist’s office or at a skin laser clinic. The appearance of scars can be lessened or even erased but it depends on their severity. With a laser, scars can be lessened significantly and possibly erased, depending on their severity.
There are two types of lasers used for skin resurfacing:
- A CO2 laser is a powerful tool that penetrates deep into the skin and is more successful in treating thicker and deeper scars but the recovery time is lengthy (about two weeks) and it can be a painful procedure.
- A YAG laser is less powerful and used to treat smaller, shallow scars. The recovery time is quicker – namely about a week – and less anesthetic and sedation is necessary.
There are three main types of skin laser treatments available:
Laser resurfacing where a high-powered laser removes the top layer of skin that has been scarred while, at the same time, penetrates the skin's middle layers, tightening and smoothing the skin. The practitioner will sedate you sufficiently to prevent pain discomfort before running the laser over the scar several times to remove damaged skin cells. It can be costly.
Fractionated laser resurfacing uses tiny beams of light to penetrate deeply into the skin so that old skin cells are broken down and the collagen within the deeper skin levels is stimulated into production. Healthy surrounding skin helps to heal the damage done by the laser therapy leading to fresh, new skin cells. Several treatments are needed over 3 to 5 weeks. The full extent of any improvement will be seen after a few months.
Non-Ablative laser resurfacing is where the inner layers of the skin are heated, while the surface is left untouched, to promote the production of collagen and the creation of new skin cells. This more painful method takes roughly 15 to 30 minutes for each treatment over 4 to 6 weeks but with no recovery time. Results are visible up to several months after the procedure.
The laser treatments available can reduce a scar's appearance by anything from 50% to 80%.