Treatment Focus: Ablative Laser Treatments

Philip Werschler


October 12th, 2014

We previously discussed nonablative laser and dermabrasion resurfacing treatments. As a reminder, resurfacing is a term used to describe a process where layers of skin are removed to even out bumpy, scared or blotchy skin. For this post, I’ll be providing an overview of one of the more aggressive forms of resurfacing—ablative laser treatments.

Ablative laser resurfacing uses a high-energy beam of light to vaporize very small areas of skin with pinpoint control. Though creating another wound to reduce the appearance of an existing acne scar may sound like an oxymoron, ablative laser treatment has shown to be a highly effective treatment solution for patients with deeper rolling or boxcar scars. Refer to the acne scar resource library for examples of both types of scars.

Ablative laser treatment reduces the overall depth of facial acne scars by removing the outermost layer of skin. At first, the procedure eliminates the thicker and harder unwanted collagen that formed around the original scar. The laser allows the collagen to slowly grow back in a controlled manner. After healing, the treated area will look a lot more like the collagen in the normal skin surrounding the scar, blending more naturally with healthy skin—making existing scars less visible.

Since the laser creates a new wound, the recovery period can be more extensive than that of other treatments, taking several weeks, and sometimes longer. Throughout the recovery period, patients may notice that their skin becomes red, swollen and itchy—leaking a yellowish fluid. Though these side effects are somewhat uncomfortable, they are normal and typically go away on their own as the skin heals. Many also notice that the skin around the treated area becomes lighter or darker. To minimize these side effects, ensure a successful treatment and avoid the possibility of worsening acne scars, it’s important to consult with your physician to determine the best course of action.

Have you tried ablative laser therapy? What was the result? Please share your experience with the community.

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