With the advent of many different types of lasers, it is increasingly more difficult to decide what to go with. First the ideal candidate is one with realistic expectations as well as the ability to take care of the skin before and after laser treatments. Lasers have many functions in the field of aesthetic medicine. Lasers and other light based treatment modalities work to remove unwanted hair, tighten skin, eradicate wrinkles, and erase years of photodamage such sun spots. Lasers and IPL or Intense Pulse Light differ in that a laser is monochromatic while IPL typically contains many wavelengths of light. Lasers and IPL function by emitting optical energy that is absorbed by various chromophores in the skin. Chromophores include melanin, responsible for skin color, hemoglobin (found in blood and blood vessels). Each of these substances including water has specific wavelengths of light which they absorb best. Non-ablative lasers and IPL employ selective photothermolysis meaning they only destroy the target tissue such as sunspots or broken capillaries leaving health skin undamaged. That is the basis of a photofacial. It gives you an even skin tone. Ablative lasers destroy everything in its path. The earlier ablative lasers, gave excellent results. However the side effects and downtime were also great. Newer fractional ablative resurfacing only treats a portion of the face leaving areas of health tissue around zones of ablation resulting in fewer complications and faster healing time. The best known of these newer modalities is Fraxel, which is a brand of CO2 or carbon dioxide laser. However there are many other types of lasers and treatment modalities capable of fractional resurfacing. For specific questions on different types of lasers and treatments, feel free to ask.
Monika Soni, MD
Ethos Spa, Skin and Laser Center
Disclaimer:For informational purpose only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions.