Dr. Alexes Hazen on Lasers for Removal of Brown Spots and Scars
LASER FOR BROWN SPOTS AND SCARS
As we age our skin does not “turn over” as quickly, and we lose collagen and therefore elasticity and thickness which all results in dull and lifeless skin that may feel and look lackluster and wrinkled. Lasers are a different modality to perform the same task as peels. Other than the very light peels, which have no downtime, they are inexpensive. I prefer lasers, as they are specifically targeted to your skin problem and they are more controlled with more dependable results.
Which laser is right for you?
You need to decide if you can afford downtime or not – if you can’t then it eliminates deep and medium peels and ablative lasers. Now you are narrowing choices!
You need to decide what your priorities are in terms of goals for your skin. Do you just want to start a maintenance routine or do you want to reset the clock back a few years?
Go to a professional – see a cosmetic Board Certified Dermatologist or a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon – you don’t have to become an expert in all the options and choices – let them do the work! Don’t worry about “brands” of lasers – the important thing is the TYPE of laser and what it targets. SCITON, LUMENIS, Fraxyl are all brands – and that is the least important aspect as a patient.
Q & A
Q: How do lasers work?
A: Lasers work by generating a single wavelength of light that’s absorbed only by a single pigment. Some wavelengths target the red color of acne scars, broken capillaries, and blood vessels. Others hone in on melanin, the brownish pigment in hair and skin, so they can both zap dark marks and remove unwanted hair. To minimize wrinkles, some lasers are absorbed by water, which precisely wounds the skin, generates new collagen, and leaves fine lines much less visible. (This process is known generally as skin resurfacing, and is amazing.) The changes produced by lasers are not temporary – in that the change is a permanent change, your skin will continue to age, but what has changed has changed until the aging process begins again.
Q: What’s the difference between ablative and non-ablative lasers?
A: Ablation is the removal of material by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes. Non-ablative lasers leave the outer layer of skin alone and target deeper tissue, so the skin does not become raw. Treatments from ablative lasers, therefore, take longer to heal (three to ten days), than non-ablative ones, which take hours to several days. Another way to think about it is “wounding” lasers versus “non-wounding”.
Q: What makes one laser different from another?
A: Lasers are specifically designed for a particular wavelength of light and therefore have very specific targets. I think of a peel as a shotgun, and a laser as, well, a laser. Lasers focus on your particular issue; pigment, acne scars, acne, fine lines, loose skin, veins, red spots, hair, tattoos, and blood vessels.
Q: What’s a fractional laser?
A: In the same way that the pointillists painted with dots, and full swipes of paint, fractional lasers don’t treat the entire targeted zone. The result is a faster healing process with fewer chances of “complications”.