Erbium laser resurfacing is a highly effective way to dramatically reduce facial wrinkles, but it does have some significant downtime. As such, some background is helpful to understand who it’s for and why.
Facial wrinkles are an inevitable side effect of aging and many treatments are available to reduce wrinkles including botox, dermal fillers and surgery. For certain types of facial wrinkles, these treatments fall short of achieving a significant and lasting improvement. Examples of such wrinkles would include vertical “smoker’s lines” of the upper and lower lips, criss-cross lines of the cheeks, crepey skin of the eyelids and cobble stone skin texture around the mouth. While some of these types of wrinkles may be improved to some degree by dermal fillers, many people have wrinkles that are too widespread or that don’t respond well to injectable treatments. In these patients, laser resurfacing may present an excellent option.
Why is it called resurfacing? Resurfacing is actually what the body does after the treatment. The laser removes the outer layers of the skin very precisely and then the patient’s skin does the real work of resurfacing or healing over the dermis. The laser doesn’t actually burn the skin, but rather ablates or vaporizes the outer layer with a very rapid laser pulse. Wrinkles, texture irregularities and discoloration are removed along with these outer layers. The patient’s own epidermal cells then emerge from the glands and hair follicles and cover over or “resurface” the deeper skin layers. This produces a dramatic and lasting rejuvenation of the skin.
Sounds great, but what’s the downside? During the first week after treatment the skin is healing and this requires regular skin care and being out of sight. Not unlike the Covid-19 lockdown but with frequent facial washing and reapplication of skin balm. After that first week, the skin has healed, but remains pink for several additional weeks. Given the downtime, many alternatives have been developed including chemical peels, “fractional” lasers, intense pulse light and radiofrequency micro-needling. While these treatments may help improve skin discoloration, skin tone and texture, they usually fall short when it comes to significant wrinkle reduction. This is where erbium laser resurfacing excels. Over the last 20 years, we have found that patients who are good candidates and are properly prepared for the downtime do exceptionally well and are thrilled with the short and long lasting results.