Are you searching for a wrinkle reduction treatment that’s safe, long-lasting, and doesn’t require you to disappear from society for months while you recover?
Everyone wants to look healthy and young, but how far are you willing to go to get wrinkle-free skin?
Historically, the most effective methods to reduce wrinkles have come with hefty side-effects like pain, redness, and itching that can last for months after your treatment. Less-invasive treatments are also (big surprise) less effective.
If you’ve spent much time researching modern wrinkle reduction methods, you already know that laser resurfacing is a better solution than traditional approaches.
Traditional treatments have included:
- Chemical Peels: While somewhat effective, chemical peels involve pouring acid on your face to dissolve your aging skin. Yikes.
- Dermabrasion: “Oh, I know! Let’s just sand the wrinkles off your face!” Okay, it’s not as bad as it sounds. For obvious reasons, though, forced exfoliation is best left to small areas (like scars) rather than full-face treatments.
- Neurotoxin Injections: Botox is crazy, and effective, and truly innovative. But it does have limitations. For example, Botox is temporary. It’s also more effective for preventing future wrinkles than it is for removing existing ones.
- Donkey Milk: Cleopatra is rumored to have bathed in sour donkey milk to aid exfoliation. There’s actually some science behind this, but it takes a lot of donkeys to fill a bathtub with milk. Maybe not the most practical solution for the modern era.
With the possible exception of the donkey milk thing, these methods are still widespread. And they’re all effective to varying degrees. But these techniques can have serious side-effects and long recovery times if you use them on large areas of skin (like your face).
If you want fast results with no injections, scraping, or acid washes, then lasers are the way to go.
Laser skin resurfacing for wrinkles
If you’re like most people, you don’t just want younger-looking skin, you want your skin to be healthy, too. Laser rejuvenation treatments unlock your skin’s healing power to make that possible.
Laser resurfacing removes wrinkles and other damage at the surface, but it also stimulates collagen production below the surface. The increased collagen production strengthens and tightens your skin and makes it look even healthier.
But not all laser skin treatments are created equal.
According to a study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (ASJ), there are two different main methods to choose from when selecting a laser for wrinkles. The study shows one of these methods is the clear winner in terms of effectiveness, shorter recovery times, and decreased risk of serious side-effects.
The study shows that fractional ablative laser treatments are the best option for safe and effective skin rejuvenation.
Read on for a summary of the ASJ study’s findings on fractional vs. non-fractional laser skin treatments.
Ablative Non-fractional Lasers
When you hear the word ‘ablative’, the first thing that comes to mind might be your high school Latin class. We’re not talking about grammar here, though.
In the medical world, ablative refers to treatments that take something away.
An ablative laser heats the water in your skin to destroy and remove problem areas. This then allows new collagen and elastic tissue to form in place of the damaged skin.
The non-fractional part refers to how the laser beam is applied to your skin. In a non-fractional laser, the full beam is applied to a contiguous area of skin and works on all the tissue in that area at once. This is referred to as “bulk heating”.
The ASJ study indicates non-fractional laser treatments are associated with a significant risk of side-effects.
According to the study:
“[Non-fractional laser ablation] may result in persistent erythema leading to prolonged recovery times. Furthermore, the side effects include scarring, infection, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, and delayed hypopigmentation.”
Okay. So there’s a lot to unpack there. Hyper- and hypo-pigmentation are fancy words for different kinds of skin discoloration. Scarring is pretty rare and can usually be avoided by working with a skilled laser technician.
Erythema and infection are the ones that might make your skin crawl.
Serious side-effects of non-fractional laser treatments
A paper referenced in the ASJ study outlines the most serious side-effects of non-fractional lasers:
- Erythema lasting 4.5 months on average – Erythema is the engorging of blood vessels that cause skin redness. Since ablative lasers are destroying a part of your skin, you should always expect some redness.
- Infection with Herpes Simplex in 7.4% of patients – Infection is always a risk with any surgery, but 7.4% of patients infected with Herpes? That’s a lot!
Ablative laser treatments are by far the most effective and least invasive method for reducing wrinkles, but the potential for serious side-effects should not be taken lightly.
If you find the risks associated with non-fractional lasers a bit too intimidating, no need to worry. There is an alternative type of ablative laser for wrinkles that poses a far lower risk, and faster recovery times.
Ablative, Fractional Lasers
The ASJ study finds that recovery time and risk of side-effects is far lower with fractional lasers than with non-fractional types.
In fractional laser skin resurfacing, the laser is divided into thousands of tiny micro-beams that create what dermatologists call “micro-thermal zones”. Essentially, these zones are tiny areas where the water in your skin heats up enough to destroy the surrounding tissue. In-between these zones, the skin is left unharmed.
Fractional lasers stimulate your skin’s healing power to rejuvenate collagen and elastic tissue without causing the widespread damage associated with non-fractional lasers.
Results of the ASJ study on the use of a fractional laser for wrinkles
- Hyperemia lasting less than 5 weeks in 93.1% of patients, compared to an average recovery time of 4.5 months with a non-fractional laser.
- Zero occurrences of HSV (Herpes) infection, compared with 7.4% in non-fractional laser treatment.
- Reduced occurrence of acne, milia (white bumps), and hyperpigmentation (dark spots).
The results of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal study make a clear case for the use of fractional ablative laser for wrinkle treatment. With faster recovery times and dramatically reduced occurrence of infection, fractional lasers make the power of laser resurfacing available without the risk associated with traditional laser treatments.
Want to learn more about using a fractional laser for wrinkles, scars, or other skin imperfections? Check out our Skin and Scar Resurfacing services today.
About the Author
Brian holds a BA in philosophy and cognitive science form NC State University. He has over 10 years experience with training and development, instructional design, and specialty food and beverage marketing. Since 2006, Brian’s professional experience has been focused in the specialty coffee industry where his roles have included coffee roasting, consulting, and corporate and individual training. In his spare time, Brian is an avid endurance cyclist and aspiring ultra runner.