During erbium laser resurfacing, the laser light is absorbed by the water in the skin cells. The absorption in turn causes the instantaneous vaporization of the cells. As your physician passes the laser light over your skin, a small fraction of the tissue is affected at a time. This incredible control allows your physician to treat only as deeply as needed. After treatment, new skin quickly re-grows in place of the damaged skin.
What Makes Erbium Laser Resurfacing Different
Most patients treated with an erbium laser feel only mild discomfort during treatment and usually require only a topical anesthetic, if anything. Erbium laser patients also enjoy the tremendous benefits of healing within only a matter of days to a few weeks, instead of months.
The erbium laser is a gentler alternative to carbon dioxide (CO2) laser resurfacing. While the CO2 laser can address deeper layers of damaged skin, the erbium laser provides beautiful results and a shorter recovery period for those whose skin damage is not as severe. An even gentler alternative is the micro laser peel. We can help you decide which option is best suited to you during your personalized consultation.
Benefits of Erbium Laser Resurfacing
Erbium laser resurfacing smoothes away or noticeably decreases wrinkles and improves the overall color and texture of the face, neck, and hands. It is often used to treat the following conditions:
- Fine wrinkles
- Color irregularities
- Sun damage
- Acne scarring
- Sun and age spots
Our laser resurfacing clients often combine it with other facial rejuvenation procedures, such as a face lift, brow lift, or eyelid surgery. It's important to tell your surgeon if you are planning to have any future facial procedures.
Precision and predictability are the major advantages of laser resurfacing. However, laser resurfacing isn't the only method that plastic surgeons use to refinish the facial skin. Alternative facial therapies include:
- Tretinoin (Retin-A) topical treatment: a light skin-refinishing treatment that involves regular applications of a vitamin A-enriched cream.
- Glycolic acid peel (sometimes called "fruity" acid peel): a light resurfacing treatment that involves use of a prescription-strength facial wash or cream.
- Dermabrasion: a more aggressive method that targets the surface layer of dead skin cells with a motorized brush.
- Chemical peel: a resurfacing method in which a chemical solution is applied to peel away the top layers of skin, allowing a fresh new layer to emerge.
Lighter resurfacing options offer shorter recovery times. However, they may need to be repeated several times to achieve results that are comparable with those achieved by laser resurfacing. Your plastic surgeon will advise you if one of these other methods may be a better option for you.
Depending on your specific treatment, your physician will provide detailed skin care instructions. To avoid the risk of infection and ensure a positive result, please follow these instructions carefully. After you have healed, you will need to protect your new skin. In the early weeks and months following treatment, your skin will be very susceptible to sun damage. If at all possible, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun or use sunscreens recommended by your physician.
Potential Risks or Complications
Although the erbium laser has substantially reduced many of the risks associated with laser procedures, infection, temporary or permanent changes in pigmentation, even scarring or other unsatisfactory results can occur. Fortunately, these complications are quite rare. As with any medical procedure, be certain to thoroughly discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your physician.