Laser skin resurfacing treatments, or laser peels, are procedures that decrease the appearance of fine lines on the face, improve skin tone, and even out the complexion after sun damage or trauma.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 543,731 laser skin-resurfacing treatments performed in the United States.
Choosing Laser Skin Resurfacing
Patients choose to have laser skin resurfacing treatments to treat skin conditions such as:
- Age and sun spots
- Acne scars
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Uneven skin tone
- Sagging skin
- Chickenpox scars
- Drooping eyelids
- Crow's feet
- Trauma to the facial skin
Laser skin resurfacing treatments work by removing or damaging the upper and lower layers of skin to, promote healing and renewed growth. New skin will appear younger, fresher, and less damaged than the skin before the treatment.
There are two main types of lasers used in laser resurfacing treatments: lasers that remove layers of skin (ablative lasers), and nonwounding lasers that target lower skin layers to promote collagen growth (nonablative lasers). Ablative lasers will use carbon dioxide (CO2) to treat skin conditions like wrinkles, scars, and warts. Nonablative lasers, or erbium lasers, will treat skin conditions like fine wrinkles.
Doctors and other medical professional may also choose to use newer laser and light therapy skin-resurfacing techniques like fractional, plasma, or infrared treatments.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of laser skin resurfacing was $2,146 for ablative and $1,062 for non-ablative treatments. The cost may change based on the skill level of the heath care professional performing the treatment and the inclusion of other related fees.
Most health insurance companies do not cover elective cosmetic procedures.
Laser Skin-Resurfacing Procedure
Preparations for laser skin resurfacing may begin weeks before the actual treatment with doctors asking patients to apply creams to the face like topical retinoids.
Discomfort during laser skin resurfacing treatments will depend on the extent of the treatment. Patients will be given topical anesthetics to numb small areas, and may be given relaxants. Patients undergoing large-scale treatments may be given a general anesthetic.
Patients with a history of herpes will be prescribed an antiviral medication before and after the treatment to prevent flare-ups.
To perform the procedure, the healthcare professional will use either an erbium laser, a CO2 laser for the treatment, or a newer laser device, depending on the goal of the treatment. An ablative or CO2 laser will be used to remove layers of skin without damaging the surrounding tissue. Thin layers of skin will be removed with each pass of the laser.
A nonablative or erbium laser will not remove layers of skin, but will cause minor damage in the skin's upper and lower layers to promote healing. Results of nonablative laser treatments take longer to appear.
Newer laser skin resurfacing devices like fractional, plasma, or infrared lasers may be used to reduce the risk of complications and the recovery period. Fractional laser treatments target microscopic columns of skin and limit damage to surrounding tissue, making the recovery process quicker. Plasma treatments use plasma energy (non-laser) to target cells in the lower layers of skin. Plasma treatments keep the upper levels of skin intact, protecting and aiding in the healing of the lower levels. Infrared light treatments heat cells in the lower, dermal level of skin to stimulate collagen growth.
Patients will need 1 to 3 days of recovery time after the treatment. The skin may not heal completely for a few months. Results of the treatment should be long lasting.
Risks of Laser Skin Resurfacing
- Skin discoloration
- Itching, swelling, and redness
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Flare-up of cold sores
- Damage to surrounding anatomy
- Dissatisfaction with results
Health care professionals must discuss all material risks with patients before the procedure.
Medical Malpractice and Laser Skin Resurfacing
Medical malpractice during cosmetic procedures leads to countless injuries every year in the United States. If you or a loved one was injured by the negligence of a doctor or medical professional during a cosmetic procedure, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have a track record of successful representation in medical malpractice cases.
Call our law firm today to find out if you have a malpractice claim and to schedule a free consultation.