LASERS, SHMASERS! – The Differences Between Ablative Skin Resurfacing with Field Lasers Vs. Fractional Lasers

We read so much about different lasers that terminology becomes confusing. Let’s try to unravel some of the confusion.

I received a good education on lasers from Dr. Lawrence Bass, Clinical Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery and Director of the Minimally Invasive Plastic Surgery Program at New York University Medical Center, who wrote a chapter for my book, Tick Tock Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour.

Dr. Bass speaks in terms of two broad categories of lasers, those that treat the skin fractionally (treating tiny pixels of the skin while leaving the surrounding skin intact) and field lasers (that treat the entire surface of the skin in which wrinkles or damaged skin is contained).

 These field ablative lasers are used less frequently than even a decade ago, but still are a useful option for patients with pronounced wrinkling or in need of skin tightening, which I believe does not occur in a significant degree with the fractional treatments.

The down side to these lasers is their lengthy recovery for the patient. 

Ablative fieldlasers that you might have heard about include the Carbon Dioxide lasers (CO2), Erbium YAG and the Pearl. Today, stand alone treatments with field ablatives have largely been replaced by fractional lasers, but are often combined with surgical facelifts where healing downtime is already required.

 Now on to Fractional Ablative Lasers

According to Dr. Bass, all of the major Fractional Ablative Lasers systems out there are showing excellent skin smoothing and wrinkle reduction results, with some skin tightening. Yet generally results are less dramatic than with ablative field treatments, but moderately better than with nonablative fractional treatments.

To learn what to expect during and after treatment and post treatment precautions you need to take, read my full article.


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