FRACTIONAL RESURFACING LASERS – THE CONCEPT
The “OLD WAY”
In the not to distant past, the gold standard in reversing the signs of aging had been resurfacing with the traditional CO2 laser. Resurfacing is achieved by peeling away a layer of skin while causing tissue contraction. Although this technique achieves dramatic results, patients often undergo general anesthesia and prolonged healing and recovery times (as long as two weeks).
The “NEW” way – Fractional Resurfacing
A “fractional” laser is one where the laser-light beam is not solid but rather broken up into a grid of thousands of microscopic beams. Think of poking tiny holes in a black piece of paper and covering a flashlight and you get the rough idea.
Unlike old resurfacing lasers that remove the entire top layer of skin, fractional resurfacing works by creating a grid of pinpoint laser beams that zap tiny spots on the skin. This produces thousands of tiny but deep columns of treatment in your skin, known as microthermal treatment zones. This method protects
the skin from enduring too much damage at once and, because you have an 80 percent reservoir of normal skin surrounding these microthermal treatment zones, healing is fast and side effects are minimal.
|Three resurfacing lasers:|
|• Fraxel™ (a fractional diode laser)|
|• Fractional CO2 laser|
|• Traditional CO2 laser|
The term “fractional”:
By design, each treatment session targets about 15 to 20 percent of the skin’s surface. In other words it treats a “fraction” of the skin surface each time and that is why the technique is called “fractional laser resurfacing” and one of the lasers uses the brand name “Fraxel”.
Fractional laser technology is different:
The usual trade-off dictates that the deeper you go with a resurfacing procedure, the more dramatic the results, but with added downtime and risk. So typically a light acid peel or a microdermabrasion has almost no risk of adverse effects and no downtime, but the results are modest. On the other hand, a deep traditional CO2 laser resurfacing can give dramatic results, but it requires general anesthesia and more than two weeks of recovery, and the risk of side effects is too high in our opinion. The Fraxel laser and the fractional CO2 laser are different: they can penetrate deeply for dramatic results and they have excellent safety profiles.