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Laser Skin Treatments – an Indispensable Guide

Posted on: February 29th, 2016 by California Skin Institute

Here at California Skin Institute we get many questions from new patients who are interested in laser skin treatments, but just aren’t sure which treatment is right for them.* There are so many technologies out there and they all work somewhat differently, so finding the best solution for you requires a lot of expertise about skin care and the various laser technologies available.*

To help you better understand some of the differences between various laser skin treatments, we’re putting together an educational series to help you make a more informed decision. In this installment, we’ll take a look at three very popular lasers:

What is a Laser Skin Treatment?

At the simplest level, the Fraxel and Clear & Brilliant laser skin treatments work by delivering heat energy into the skin.* There are many different ways to do this, and various intensities of the laser will achieve different things.* But the idea is to take heat and deliver it into the right skin layer.*

The heat will then affect the skin cells and other structures by causing small amounts of targeted damage, which in turn stimulates the body’s natural repair processes.*

Now, for many patients the idea of purposely causing micro damage to the skin sounds counter-intuitive. But our bodies are quite marvelous in the way they handle this damage. For example:

  • Depending on the laser used, this micro damage can stimulate the growth of new, healthy skin cells – a process that can significantly improve skin texture.*
  • The laser may remove hyperpigmented cells (caused by sun exposure or acne scars).*
  • In other cases, laser skin treatments can jump-start collagen production in the dermis, to create a long term skin tightening effect that reduces wrinkles and fine lines.*

The key here is to realize that laser skin treatments work hand-in-hand with our bodies.* It’s a process that California Skin Institute providers understand very well, and have fine-tuned to target a variety of skin problems, including:*

  • Scars*
  • Age spots*
  • Wrinkles*
  • Rough skin texture*

Fraxel and Clear & Brilliant Lasers – What’s the Difference?

Here at California Skin Institute we’ve built a state of the art skin care laser department, with many different devices.* Among these we have the Fraxel DUAL, Fraxel Repair, and Clear & Brilliant lasers.*

Let’s take a look at what these lasers can achieve for your skin.*

Clear & Brilliant – Least Intense

Here at California Skin Institute we like to refer to the Clear & Brilliant laser as a “gateway” laser skin treatment, because it’s a good option for patients who are trying laser treatments for the first time.*

Firstly, the side effects from this laser are minimal, and require no time off work.* A typical patient will experience very light inflammation and skin peeling for a few days after treatment, but nothing that warrants days off work.*

Clear & Brilliant is a non-ablative laser – it doesn’t vaporize skin cells.* It’s a good choice for milder occurrences of acne scars, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, where the patient doesn’t need dramatic improvements right away (remember, there is usually a direct tradeoff between the aggressiveness of the treatment and the associated down time).*

Skin laser treatment sessions with Clear & Brilliant are virtually painless (our providers apply a numbing cream for extra comfort), and last about 30 minutes.* For best outcomes, the typical patient will need multiple treatments, spaced several weeks apart.* (Read more about Clear & Brilliant laser treatments.)

Fraxel DUAL – Moderately Intense

The Fraxel DUAL laser is a non-ablative laser that can provide very effective skin resurfacing.* It is typically a better choice for moderate instances of wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, scars, and skin texture.*

The “DUAL ” in Fraxel DUAL laser stands for two types of frequencies; 1550 and 1927.

  • 1550: Your California Skin Institute provider can use the 1550 to deliver energy deeper, into the dermis, to stimulate production of more collagen.* With time, this will tighten the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.*
  • 1927: This frequency targets the epidermis, to resurface the skin and address issues like scars, dark spots and rough skin texture.*

For best outcomes, multiple treatments are needed, on average, with this device.* But the down time is also very limited, thus minimizing disruption to your routine and any inconvenience.* (Read more about Fraxel Dual laser treatments.)

Fraxel Repair – Most Intense

The Fraxel Repair laser was designed to provide dramatic improvements in the appearance of your skin after just one treatment.* However, it is also one of the most intense resurfacing treatments and requires down time of several weeks, while your skin heals.*

These qualities make the Fraxel Repair a suitable choice for individuals who have severe scarring, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles.*

After the procedure, you can expect slight oozing and skin peeling for several days, as your body begins to heal the treatment area.* Though this can be an inconvenience for some patients, it’s important to keep in mind that, in many cases, only one treatment with Fraxel Repair is needed to see a dramatic improvement in skin tone and texture.*

As the area heals, the strongest improvements will become visible several months after the treatment.* (Read more about Fraxel Repair laser treatments.)

Fractionalized Technology

Although the Clear & Brilliant, Fraxel Dual, and Fraxel Repair have different functions and applications, what unites these skin lasers is the fractional approach to treatment.* Here’s what this means:

In the early days of skin laser treatments, lasers often delivered energy to the entire treatment area.* This placed a lot of stress on the skin, because the micro damage was more extensive.* Consequently, recovery times were longer and there was more discomfort.*

With fractional laser technology, the laser energy is delivered in targeted grids that affect only a portion of the skin cells at the treatment site, while the surrounding tissue remains undamaged.*

The benefit of the fractional approach in skin laser treatments is that it reduces the healing time and associated side effects, while still producing dramatic outcomes.*

Best time for Laser Treatments

Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that treatments with Fraxel DUAL, Fraxel Repair, and Clear & Brilliant temporarily weaken your skin’s natural defenses against the sun.* Your skin is already dealing with the micro-damage caused by the lasers, and fighting against UV radiation at the same time can be overwhelming.*

Therefore, it’s best to perform these treatments in late fall, during winter, or early spring, when the sun is less intense and when you’re less likely to travel to vacation destinations.* Regardless of the time of year, using sunscreen after laser treatments is especially important, to reduce potential damage from UV radiation and free radicals.*

Learn More

You can learn more about these lasers by clicking the respective links below, or view our entire Technology section to learn about all the devices at California Skin Institute.*

If you’d like a personalized skin laser treatment consultation with one of our expert providers, please fill out the Contact Form (below), or call a California Skin Institute practice near you!

*Individual results may vary and are not guaranteed.