Types of Fractional Skin Lasers

Fractional skin resurfacing with the laser is now a frequently sought out procedure by many individuals in North America. Unlike the past decade, we now have a variety of lasers which can be used for fractional skin resurfacing.

The basic principle in fractional skin resurfacing is that only a certain part of the skin is treated at any one point in time. This results in less side effects and complications and a much faster recovery. However, a drawback of the therapy is that numerous treatment sessions are required to treat the entire face.

The currently available lasers for fractional skin resurfacing include:

- Fraxel

- ActiveFXTM

- Lux 1540TM

- Affirm TM

- ProFractionalTM

All of these fractional skin lasers act similarly and the only difference is the cost. All of them are patient complaint, cause minimal pain and have a lesser incidence of side effects compared to the older lasers.

The side effects with all the above lasers include:

- Mild bruising. The bruising is mild and essentially disappears in a few hours to days

- Skin darkening or bronzing. This dark/bronzed skin appearance is short lived and looks more like a mild sun burn. Those with sensitive skin can develop a bronzed skin which lasts anywhere from 7-14 days

- Skin dryness & Flaking. In some cases, dryness and flaking of the skin does occur after 48 hours. This is mild in most cases and it is recommended that the individuals apply a moisturizer to minimize the skin dryness.

- Redness: Occasionally the skin will appear red but is painless. The redness usually resolves within a few hours after the treatment.

The results of fractional laser resurfacing are not immediate. The skin may show signs of appearing tighter after a few sessions but the eventual cosmetic result is seen after 2-3 months following treatment.

For those who do respond to the treatment, the skin will appear younger, smoother and tighter looking.

Despite what is claimed by the vendors of fractional lasers, complications can occur but are rare. There is no laser that is immune from complications.

The most common complications that occur include:

- Blisters. These swelling usually occur on the face where the skin is thin. The blisters usually subside rapidly and do not leave and scarring

- Herpetic sores. Individuals who have had a prior episode of herpes infection can develop recurrent herpetic sores. These individuals are encouraged to continue with a course of acyclovir for a few days after treatment.

- Skin discoloration. In some individuals the skin may either appear very dark or light. These skin discoloration changes are mild but may be permanent.

- In the rare individual, scarring can occur after laser treatment

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