People in the rest of the country think you’re lucky to live in Chicago; The Windy City, America’s third-largest metropolis. Chicago is as hot as any city, thanks to its fine dining and flashy nightlife in its more than 800 bars, and strong acting chops honed at such places as Second City and the Steppenwolf Theatre Co.
If you’re a true “Chicagoin” the fact is these people don’t understand the extreme weather changes here and they obviously don’t know that wrinkles can occur over time for a variety of reasons – sun damage, smoking, dryness, humidity and facial expressions. In most cases, wrinkles occur on the forehead, around the eyes, between the eyebrows and around the lips due to a loss of elasticity as opposed to an excess of skin. And, wrinkles don’t discriminate; they don’t care where you reside.
Those people who think you’re lucky to live in Illinois? They’re right, you are lucky, especially if you live in Chicago, because you have access to the finest cosmetic medical wrinkle treatments – laser skin resurfacing – and the most experienced plastic surgeon for administering the procedure in the country – Dr. Anil Shah.
Dr. Shah’s Technique and Why it’s different
It’s all about using beams of light. Dr. Shah uses the laser to send short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin. This removes unwanted, damaged skin in a very precise manner one layer at a time. This targeted approach means there are fewer problems and fewer risks. The laser beam used in laser resurfacing will remove your outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. It simultaneously heats the underlying skin, called the dermis. This action works to stimulate growth of new collagen fibers. As the treated area heals, the new skin that forms is smoother and firmer.
Where did lasers come from?
Lasers have been around since the early ‘90s; the word “laser” is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. They were first used as cutting tools in operations by some surgeons. Laser resurfacing is very precise and causes little damage to the surrounding skin and tissue. It is done mostly on the face, but it may be done on other areas of the body like the hands, neck, and chest.
What can lasers do for me?
Laser resurfacing can improve facial flaws, such as:
- Fine lines or wrinkles around or under your eyes, forehead ,or mouth
- Scars from acne or chickenpox
- Non-responsive skin after a facelift
- Aged or sun-damaged skin
- Liver spots
- Improve your complexion if you have yellowish or grayish skin tones
- Birthmarks such as linear epidermal nevi
- Enlarged oil glands on the nose
Am I a good candidate for laser resurfacing?
You may be an excellent candidate for fractional laser resurfacing if you wish to treat:
- the overall appearance of the skin
- skin laxity, especially around the eyes
- fine lines and wrinkles on the face, especially around the mouth and eyes
- uneven pigmentation and age spots
- wrinkles and uneven texture on the chest
- precancerous lesions
What happens during laser resurfacing?
Before laser resurfacing, the treatment area will be cleansed and outlined with a surgical maker. A topical anesthetic is applied; local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, may also be used to decrease any discomfort. As the laser moves across the face, you will feel slight heat and tingling. The procedure takes 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the areas treated and what laser Dr. Shah recommends for you. After the procedure, an ointment will be applied.
Some patients may choose to have 3-5 sessions with minimal downtime and recovery in between treatments. Others choose to have a more extensive treatment in one sitting. Dr. Shah will adjust the laser settings to deliver the amount of energy your skin needs for optimal results, taking into consideration the amount of time that you have for recovery and the desired results. He can adjust the treatment parameters to deliver a deeper or lighter treatment.
What should I expect after laser skin resurfacing?
Immediately after the treatment, your skin will be warm, as if you had a sunburn. The skin will be pink and swollen. Because Dr. Shah has the ability to adjust the laser settings to suit your needs, you may be pink for 3-5 days with a light treatment or may possibly be red for one month with a deeper treatment. Most patients choose the lighter treatments and are able to use mineral-based makeup and return to work in 3-4 days.
What will I look like after laser resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing delivers heat to the skin which will remodel collagen for up to 6 months. You will have smoother skin that will continue to improve for months. Skin that’s treated with laser resurfacing may react in different ways. But most of the time, it will feel like a mild sunburn. You’ll have some redness and swelling. You may also experience itching or stinging for a few days after the procedure.
Depending on the treatment, some people may have what looks like a severe sunburn. The skin will be raw, oozing and may even blister. A yellow liquid may ooze from treated areas to form a crust. Do not scratch or pick at crusts because this can cause scarring. Usually, about five days to a week after laser skin resurfacing, your skin will become dry and peel.
Ablative vs. Non-Ablative Lasers
Two types of lasers are commonly used in laser resurfacing: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Erbium Yag.
Both work to vaporize superficial, damaged skin cells. Both CO2 and Erbium laser resurfacing treatments are considered “ablative” lasers.
Ablative laser skin resurfacing is one of the most effective cosmetic procedures for improving aging skin. The procedure works by delivering an intense wavelength of light to the skin, which removes the outer layers of aged or sun damaged skin. In addition, the laser stimulates the underlying skin, resulting in collagen formation and an improvement in wrinkles. As the lasered skin heals following the procedure, new skin forms that is smoother and tighter.
There are different types of ablative lasers, and some target deeper into the epidermis than others. Because the ablative laser procedure is more intense, you will need some form of pain relief during and possibly after the procedure, depending on your pain tolerance. For the deeper penetrating lasers, general anesthesia is typically given because the laser is resurfacing the skin at the epidermis. For the less intense ablative lasers, topical and oral pain medications/sedatives are given prior to the procedure. Upon completion of the procedure, you can expect raw, uncomfortable, weeping skin that takes two to four weeks to fully heal.
Generally, ablative procedures with longer downtime generally are associated with a higher potential for improved outcomes for conditions such as wrinkles, skin laxity, sun damage, and acne scars. You will see more dramatic results with these lasers versus “non-ablative” lasers.
Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing utilizes light energy to stimulate collagen remodeling and remove irregular pigmentation and enlarged blood vessels from the skin surface. Because this technique does not injure the outer layers of skin, there is no prolonged healing phase with the associated risk of complications and loss of time from normal activities.
The underlying principal of the treatment is to create a controlled injury to certain “target” structures in the dermis, while sparing the epidermis from damage. Absorbed light energy then activates fibroblasts to stimulate collagen remodeling and new collagen production. There is no downtime and no anesthesia with the non-ablative laser. You can go on your lunch break, immediately put your makeup on, and head right back to work. The benefits are dramatic, but it typically takes two to five treatments and it does take time to see the full benefits of this type of laser facial. In addition, non-ablative lasers only target the skin’s dermis, which is why there is no downtime and also why you need more than one treatment.
Conditions that can be treated by Non-ablative technologies include facial wrinkles, rosacea, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, age and “liver” spots, and minor surface irregularities. Unlike traditional resurfacing techniques, Non-ablative procedures can be performed almost anywhere on the body with very little or no risk of scarring.
What is a double fractional laser?
Fraxel is the original fractional laser treatment that works below the skin’s surface from the top down, focusing on imperfections like those fine lines, visible photo aging, wrinkles, scarring and age spots. Fraxel light energy stimulates your skin’s natural collagen, rejuvenating skin cells below the surface to help smooth the creases and pockets that cause wrinkles and scars. Fraxel only treats targeted problem areas – so the results are directed and effective.
Fractional Laser Treatments have revolutionized the way we approach sun damaged and aging skin. A clinically proven, safe approach with less risk than full ablative resurfacing, fractional lasers deliver thousands of tiny but deep columns of heat into your skin, producing microthermal treatment zones. This treatment eliminates old epidermal pigmented cells and deposits heat deep into the dermis to tighten skin and stimulate collagen remodeling. Just as important, though, are the areas of the skin the fractional laser leaves untouched. For every microthermal zone the laser targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding tissue unaffected and intact. This “fractional” treatment allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once, using the body’s natural healing process to create new, healthy tighter tissue to replace skin imperfections.
So, is laser resurfacing right for me?
It may not be the best choice if you have:
- Active acne
- Very dark skin
- Deep wrinkles
- Excessive or sagging skin
Patients with darker skin tones have a greater risk of healing with darker pigmentation (hyperpigmentation).
This may be minimized by use of a bleaching agent after laser skin resurfacing as well.
Resurfacing occurs at the following 3 levels:
- Superficial (wounds from the stratum corneum through the papillary dermis)
- Medium (wounds of the upper reticular dermis)
- Deep (wounds of the midreticular dermis)
Managing your discomfort:
Laser skin resurfacing can be painful. This is why your doctor may numb the skin with local anesthetics. You may also receive a sedative to help you relax. If you are opting for extensive resurfacing, or if you’re having other cosmetic procedures simultaneously, your surgeon may use a general anesthetic. Afterwards, the doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable. In preparation, your face will be thoroughly cleaned and you might be given eye protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is actually not just one answer to this question, one laser isn’t the best fit for everyone. Dr. Shah customizes treatments to the specific patient and their concerns. There are a series of treatments that you could do, or one very aggressive treatment. Make sure you protect your investment with the proper skin care products and sunscreen Dr. Shah recommends!
There are a wide variety of medical lasers now available to rejuvenate your skin. Dr. Shah will evaluate your skin and recommend which type of laser tailors to you personally. Read about the difference between each type of laser and what they can do for you!
When choosing a plastic surgeon for laser skin resurfacing, remember that the surgeon’s experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the procedure.
No, that is a contraindication for getting laser hair removal on your face. Products should not be used for at least 1 week before and after treatment.
Real Patient Testimonial:
Studies have not shown that getting laser hair removal treatment is in fact safe or not safe for expecting mothers, but we wouldn’t recommend it. We would actually prefer to be on the safe side and say no.
Laser Hair Removal can begin at 16 years old with the consent of a parent.
Patients usually begin to see a difference after their first treatment, but you will notice a bigger difference after the third treatment.
There is a high variation in how many treatments an individual will need. Some will require three to four treatments while others will require 15 to 20.
You can expect sore skin and some superficial hair loss. Also, a rash-like bump may occur around the treated hair follicle as well as some swelling.
With the exception of the eyes, all body parts, from head to toe, may be treated where there is hair growth.
IPL laser works well as a treatment for skin problems such as rosacea, freckles, broken blood vessels, and an overall brightening of the skin. IPL will not work on superficial scarring or wrinkles.
Erbium Yag Laser:
Erbium Yag works well to erase fine lines and wrinkles of the face, smoothes and tightens eyelid skin, improves crow’s feet around the eyes, softens pucker marks and frown lines, removes brown spots and blotchy, uneven skin complexion, improves and flattens scars, and repairs smoker’s lines. Read more
CO2 laser works well to erase deeper facial wrinkles, severe sun damage, acne scarring, sun damage and spots, lines around the eyes or mouth, precancerous skin growths. Although there is more tissue tightening with this laser, this comes with longer healing time. Read more
Double Fractional Laser:
Double fractional laser works well for sun-damaged skin, fine wrinkles, age spots and sun spots, hyperpigmentation, acne and scarring, and rosacea. Fractional lasers have the advantage of minimal downtime and discomfort. Read more
Combined CO2 and Erbium Yag:
This laser combines all of the advantages of the CO2 laser with the Erbium Yag laser. Read more
Laser Hair Removal:
Our laser hair removal system works by targeting the darkness of the melanin of the hair follicle. Hair can only be targeted the growth cycle. Only 10-20% of hair is in this growth cycle so laser hair removal must be repeated at scheduled intervals.