Everything You Need to Know about Laser Skin Lightening
Having the appearance of flawless skin, free of imperfection, is a woman’s ultimate desire. Over many decades, women practiced several homemade remedies combining exotic and unique ingredients to concoct creams and serums to help achieve softer, glowing skin that was fairer in complexion. As of today, women around the world face the pressure of maintaining their everyday beauty regimen. Unfortunately, it is generally a lengthy process to achieve their desired skin shade or look. From applying creams that often don’t give instant results, to using daily facial masks to try and combat darkened blemishes, the process needed to take control of dark pigments is not a fast one. That is until a recent scientific breakthrough happened called Laser Skin Resurfacing. Laser skin resurfacing can make skin lightening much more accessible to treat skin imperfections and to achieve lighter skin complexion in no time at all.
What is Laser Skin Lightening?
Laser skin lightening or otherwise known as laser skin resurfacing is a procedure in which short pulsing beams of concentrated light are directed on the affected areas of the skin to target and diminish unwanted, irregular or damaged skin blemishes. This process triggers the stimulation of cell turnover and regrowth for fresh new skin cells that result in a lighter shade. The procedure is known to take up to 30 minutes; however, in some cases, it can extend beyond two hours depending on the condition of the skin or the areas that need treating.
Laser skin resurfacing is commonly used to treat skin imperfections such as acne scarring, birthmarks, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, rosacea and other conditions related to uneven skin tone due to the overproduction of melanin. These other treatable conditions include age spots, chloasma, and melasma.
When did Laser Skin Lightening Begin?
Laser skin lightening treatments started in the early 1980s when carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers were being used for the first time to deliver several light beams against the dermis of the skin for treatment. As time went on, the side effects that occurred from this procedure led to the modification of the laser itself. Soon after, a newer rage of erbium lasers and (CO2) lasers were developed and used to deliver faster pulses of light energy to the surface of the skin in a controlled manner.
The Different Types of Laser Skin Lightening
There are a total of three different types of laser skin lightening procedures available.
1.) Ablative Laser Resurfacing
The use of small pulsing beams of concentrated light is known as ablative laser resurfacing, and it is known to be one of the most effective laser skin lightening treatments used today. During this procedure, the top layers of the skin, including part of the sublayers that are underneath, are eliminated by vaporizing the deeply affected tissues using intense wavelength light against the surface to help generate new cell turnover and regrowth for healthier, luminous skin that is free of dark blemishes.
These procedures are performed in a dermatologic surgeon’s office. Before the process begins, your face (or area of skin to be treated) will be thoroughly cleaned to remove any dirt or debris. After, the areas that are going to be treated are numbed with a local anesthetic the help reduce discomfort or pain. Sometimes, a sedative will be administered to those who suffer from anxiety or stress to help relax during the procedure.
Ablative laser resurfacing typically takes between 30 minutes, but it can last up to two hours depending on the size of the treatable area or the technique the surgeon uses.
This procedure has some significant risks that can cause complications, with a prolonged recovery time between 2-3 weeks. We recommended seeking an experienced surgeon who can adequately evaluate the conditions of your skin before moving forward with this procedure.
The Ablative Laser Treatment Involves the Use of:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) Laser: This laser is a gas-based mixture used to vaporize the targeted area of the skin to promote elastin tissue and collagen production. As the new tissues begin to regenerate, fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation start to reduce in appearance gradually; thus, promoting healthier flawless skin that has minor imperfections.
Erbium YAG (Er: YAG) Laser: This procedure also uses Erbium doped solid-state lasers to control scarring of the skin during this treatment. As the skin begins to heal slowly, newer cells are formed during this time to reduce dark pigments within the skin and help repair damaged skin.
2.) Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing
The next type of laser lightening is known as non-ablative laser resurfacing. During this procedure, non-ablative lasers penetrate the skin without causing damage to the top layer of skin (the dermis). These fractional lasers deposit heat into the skin with thousands of deep columns known as microthermal treatment zones that tackle and eliminate older epidermal pigmented cells while depositing heat deep into the layers of the dermis to help stimulate collagen regrowth and tighten the skin.
Although the downtime of this procedure is quite minimal, the downside to non-ablative laser resurfacing is that several treatments may be required (depending on the condition) to help treat skin discoloration. Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing can use two different laser types: the Fraxel repair lasers and Fraxel restore lasers depending on your skin or the treatment suggested.
3.) Fractional Skin Resurfacing
The third type of laser skin lightening is called fractional skin resurfacing. During this procedure, the combination of non-ablative and ablative methods is utilized to give more efficient results. This helps in minimizing risks and complications while also boosting recovery time. In this treatment, micro-beams are regulated on the areas of the affected tissues, penetrating deeply into the skin, passing through the epidermis.
Both the non-ablative laser resurfacing and fractional laser resurfacing procedures are not as strong or effective compared to ablative laser resurfacing. However, they both can still stimulate cell regeneration to help replace the affected tissues to help achieve radiance within the skin.
4.) IPL Laser Skin Resurfacing
Intense Pulsed Light or otherwise known as (IPL) uses multiple wavelengths of light to help treat the skin deeply, which is what makes it distinct from other commonly used forms of laser treatments. The advantages of using IPL is that it allows the surgeon to alternate between the laser’s wavelengths; thus, allowing it to be used to cure and treat many different skin types or layers of one’s skin.
The Pros of Laser Skin Lightening
Quicker results: There are quite a few whitening and lightening treatments on the current market today. While most are easy to come by, the time it takes to notice visible results can take many weeks to months. With laser skin resurfacing you can have quicker results. In some cases, after just one treatment your skin can appear and feel softer, brighter and lightener as it improves progressively over the course of three to six months to fully heal. This is primarily known to be true when it comes to ablative laser treatments specifically.
It’s one of the most effective ways: Among most of the skin lightening and whitening products that are available on the market, laser skin resurfacing technology has proven to be highly effective and beneficial for achieving glowing skin that appears more youthful and radiant. Because of its ability to erase the damage done over time you can expect the minimal appearance of acne scarring, sun damage, wrinkles, and dark spots.
Leave it to the professionals: That’s right, all laser treatments are done strictly through a medical professional who should have extensive knowledge of laser skin resurfacing techniques. As you continue to receive treatment, the post-operative effects will be continuously monitored in case there are any complications after the procedure.
The Cons of Laser Skin Lightening
Although modern laser technology has been proven to be effective in enhancing the features of the skin by tackling skin blemishes and dark spots, there still can be potential risks and side effects that you should be aware of first.
The most common side effects with laser skin resurfacing are:
- Skin scarring
- Skin blistering
- Skin scabbing
- Prolonged swelling and redness of the treated area
- Changes in skin pigmentation
- Cold sore reactivation
- Acne formation (due to skin outbreaks or irritation)
- Tightness or discomfort of the treated area
- Other kinds of infections
Laser treatments work by disrupting cell structure underneath the surface of the skin. This means there is a possibility that the procedure can damage the cells that produce melanin in the skin. Damage caused to these cells can increase the production of melanin or decrease the production of melanin. This can result in hyperpigmentation in case of increased melanin or hypopigmentation in case of decreased in melanin.
How Much Does Laser Skin Lightening Cost?
The cost may vary depending on the procedure due to the area that needs the treatment and the type of laser used to target the potential area. Because some procedures may require more than one treatment, the cost of laser skin lightening can go up in price over time. In fact, in some cases, to achieve the desired results, your doctor may suggest more than one treatment.
Pricing for these procedures are often bundled in “packages” depending on the size of the desired area, arms or legs, underarms, facial and full body.
The American Society of Plastic Surgery states that the average cost for laser skin resurfacing in the US is $2,124 for ablative and $1,114 for non-ablative according to 2017 statistics.
A single procedure can cost around $200 but may go up in price if the doctor requires 3-5 more visits. According to many different sources, having a laser treatment done by a surgeon can be costlier than having it done by a dermatologist.
Laser skin lightening treatments are indeed very effective and beneficial for those who want to get lighter, whiter, radiant skin in a much quicker way than using whitening creams, lotions, and serums. However, there are some risks involved with these procedures. We recommend you discuss your concerns about your skin with a surgeon or dermatologist to understand the risks of these procedures applicable to your specific case. This will help you take every necessary precaution before jumping straight into laser lightening treatments.