Acne Laser Skin Treatment
Certain types of lasers can be used to resurface the skin. They use heat to remove the upper and middle layers of skin and give the skin a more youthful appearance once it heals. Laser resurfacing is frequently used to eliminate acne scars and other superficial lesions in the skin.
Patients typically begin taking antiviral medication for several months before laser skin treatment. This helps prevent viral infections during the recovery process. Many surgeons also require the patient to stop taking 12 cis-retinoic acid (Accutane) for six months before the laser resurfacing procedure.
Function of Lasers
Most sources of light, such as the sun or a light bulb, radiate light with many different wavelengths. A laser is a device that only produces light with a specific wavelength. It accomplishes this by using a variety of crystals, liquids and gases that emit light with only one wavelength.
Types of Lasers
The lasers used in skin resurfacing must emit light that's readily absorbed by the skin. A carbon dioxide (CO2) laser uses the light emitted from carbon dioxide gas to produce the most predictable results. Treatment with an erbium, yttrium, aluminum and garnet (Er:YAG) laser requires a shorter recovery time--usually three to five days, as opposed to 7 to 10 days for the CO2 method.
The patient generally is given a sedative and local anesthesia on the treatment area before beginning the resurfacing procedure. The computer-controlled laser emits short, high-intensity pulses of light while making a series of passes over the treatment area. Er:YAG lasers generally need to make more passes than a CO2 laser.
The recovery process for laser resurfacing may involve closed or open wound care. Closed wound care requires the patient to change a dressing each day until the outer layer of skin has been replaced. Open wound care involves soaking the treatment area in salt water or acetic acid during the recovery period.
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