Get Rid of Scars the Fastest, Most Effective Way—Using Fractional Lasers
There was once a time when scars stayed with you until either the world or you becomes no more. Laser technology has thankfully made that morbid notion obsolete.
Available now are a cornucopia of fractional laser systems, any of which may hold the key to reclaiming your skin’s erstwhile smoothness. Learn how a little ray of light can vanquish those scars:
Laser treatment for burns
Doctors usually recommend grafts for burns, but these are not always the most feasible of treatments. Grafting entails excising skin from another part of the body. Theoretically, you would only be putting a scar on that location. Grafting is also not cosmetically viable in that grafts tend not to match their destinations in color, texture, or shape. If the burns are too widespread, i.e. covering 90 percent of the body, grafting is out of the question. You barely have any skin left to graft.
Laser treatment, aside from stem cell therapy, seems like the next best alternative to treating burns. From the 1990s through the early Nineties, cosmetic surgeons relied on the CO2 laser system to treat scarring. The results left a lot to be desired, with many patients reporting hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Patients also had to go through more than seven days of downtime, to say nothing of pain, erythema, and edema.
It all changed in 2004 with the emergence of fractional lasers. They allowed dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons to create unprecedentedly minute columns of injury on the skin. When these injuries heal, they shed the abnormal cells and excess pigments associated with scars. The healing injuries also stimulate the skin to bring out more collagen, a.k.a. the protein responsible for the skin’s elasticity.
Many of the first fractional lasers were non-ablative, meaning they left the outermost skin intact and the affected tissue coagulated. A few years later, doctors popularised fractional ablative lasers, which were better equipped to handle deeper scars. These laser systems can reach 4,000 microns deep and emit heat by as much as 100 °C, enough to vaporise scar tissue. They essentially cause tiny third-degree burns, stimulating collagen development and bringing out healthy skin cells.
Besides improving the skin’s aesthetic value, fractional ablative lasers can remedy range-of-motion issues that so many burn patients complain of.
Laser treatment for acne scars
It’s now a decade since fractional lasers came to fore, and they have proven their long-term worth. Fractional laser procedures are now indicated on everything from fine lines
One of fractional laser treatment’s most frequently invoked utilities is the treatment of acne scarring. For this condition, doctors would recommend milder brands of fractional laser resurfacing.
Fraxel is one such brand of laser treatment. Using up to 250 tiny laser beams, anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pulses, Fraxel can cause marked improvements in the acne-scarred area within three to five sessions.
Patients have a choice from an array of Fraxel lasers. One of them, ‘restore dual,’ uses two wavelengths. The first, called ‘1927,’ is indicated for pigmentation. The second, dubbed ‘diva,’ is designed for acne scarring and profound wrinkles. A stronger laser, ‘repair,’ can tackle relatively more pronounced scars.
Fraxel involves far less downtime than other laser resurfacing procedures. Most patients only need to hole up for four days at the latest after the first treatment. The strongest wavelengths saddle you with no more than seven days of a sunburnt appearance.
Patients may put on cosmetics by day four. Dermatologists would caution against mineral makeup though, as powder can bring attention to the pinpricks caused by the laser.
Such convenience has garnered Fraxel some famous fans, including Kim Kardashian and Courtney Cox. Surely they can foot the procedure’s relatively hefty price tag, which hovers at $1,000 for a full face treatment.
Fraxel can be quite painful, however. The attending surgeon or dermatologist usually uses an anaesthetic cream and a cooling device to temper the discomfort.
When combined with sun protection and a sensible skincare regimen, fractional laser resurfacing procedures can yield years of cosmetic dividends. Ideally, these procedures should give you results to last the next 15 years or so, but be prepared to undergo repeat sessions every two to three years.
For maximum results, have your scars treated as soon as the skin disintegration heals. The sooner you can beam the lasers on your burns or acne, the better you can foil the formation of scars.
Rachel Timmins is a well-rounded Australian freelance writer and blogger. She writes professionally and for fun across a wide range of niches. She enjoys sharing her knowledge with others and collaborates with few companies and writes reviews. Connect with her Google+