Fractional laser is a revolutionary treatment that helps remove years from your appearance and regain a more youthful look. It creates smoother, fresher, healthier and younger looking skin, with improved tone and texture. Pore size is dramatically reduced and wrinkles and lines are smoothed.
Fractional laser treatment is a non-invasive treatment that uses a device to deliver a laser beam divided into thousands of microscopic treatment zones that target a fraction of the skin at a time. This is similar to a photo being enhanced or altered pixel by pixel. Fractional laser treatment works at both the epidermal (surface skin cells) and dermal collagen layers (mid layer) of sun-damaged and aging skin.
What is fractional laser treatment used to treat?
Fractional laser treatment is used for the treatment of:
Facial lines and wrinkles
Surgical and acne scarring.
Fractional laser treatment can be used on any part of the body, but is particularly useful on the face, neck, chest and hands. Fractional laser treatment can be used with all skin types and patients, but techniques vary depending on patient age, skin type, sun exposure and body location. Fractional laser treatment can be combined with surgery and other skin treatments.
How does fractional laser treatment work?
To understand how fractional laser treatment works a basic understanding of skin structure is required. Briefly skin consists of 3 layers, the epidermis (uppermost layer), dermis (mid-layer) and subcutis (lower fat layer). The epidermis contains pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for skin colouring. The dermis is made up of collagen and elastin fibres that provide skin with strength, toughness, elasticity and pliability.
As the body ages and is exposed to the elements, the epidermis becomes thinner so blemishes become more visible, and collagen in the dermis is gradually lost which contributes to the formation of facial lines, sagging skin and wrinkles.
Fractional laser treatment works by targeting both the epidermis and dermis. It does this by delivering a laser beam that is divided into thousands of tiny but deep columns of treatment into the skin. These are called microthermal treatment zones. Within each zone, old epidermal pigmented cells are expelled and penetration of collagen in the dermis causes a reaction that leads to collagen remodelling and new collagen formation. The laser targets and treats intensively within the zone whilst surrounding healthy tissue remain intact and unaffected and helps heal the wound. This fractional treatment results in a faster healing process than if all tissue in the treatment area was exposed to the laser.
What does fractional laser treatment involve?
Once the problem area has been discussed and defined, your aesthetician will tailor a treatment pattern to target the areas for correction. Your face will be cleansed and an anaesthetic cream applied to the treatment area. It takes about 45-60 minutes for the anaesthetic to take full effect. The laser will move from zone to zone of the skin until treatment is complete.
Does it hurt?
Treatment time will depend on the areas being treated, but a full face will take around 30 minutes. The pain associated with the procedure is dependent on the energy delivered to the treatment site. A cooling device is used to reduce the discomfort during the procedure.
Post-treatment and recovery
Patients may experience a mild sunburn sensation for about an hour after the procedure.
Swelling is usually minimal and should resolve in 2–3 days.
The skin will have a pinkish tone for 3–5 days.
Within 24 hours new epidermal skin develops and the skin will have a bronze appearance that can last between 3-14 days. Flaking of the skin may also occur as new skin replaces dead skin tissue. This can be treated with a moisturising cream.
Skin peeling can be pronounced after ablative therapy, when the skin should be gently removed with tap water, petrolatum and gauze once or twice daily.
During the healing phase and for several months after treatment, it is recommended that the treatment area be protected using a moisturising sunscreenwith an SPF of at least 50+. Protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats should also be used to protect the skin from sun exposure.
Four to five treatments with Fractional laser are required, depending on the energy level used and the condition of the treated skin. These are spaced one month apart. The results are not immediate and are slowly progressive, with optimal improvement visible over a three to four month period. This timeframe and treatment regimen allows for complete healing and replacement of damaged tissue with new collagen and elastin, and viable healthy skin cell growth.
Ablative fractional resurfacing lasers are more aggressive, so recovery takes a little longer than after non-ablative fractional laser treatment.