Acne Laser (Fractional)

Acne Scar Laser Treatments

Fractional laser therapy is one of the “hot topics” in plastic surgery and is our most popular laser treatments for acne scars. Patented fractional laser technology also tightens lax skin for a smoother feel.  It offers skin tightening and rejuvenation without less downtime than a normal ablative laser procedure.  Melasma, scarring and fine lines can also be treated. Instead of vaporizing the skin, fractional lasers create individual tunnels within your skin, allowing new undamaged collagen from the deeper skin to migrate to the surface.  This revolutionary concept allows us to resurface your skin without turning your skin into a red, inflamed surface.

The benefits of  laser skin resurfacing include smoothing the appearance of acne scars, tightening of the skin, rejuvenation of skin tone and texture, and smoothing the overall surface of the skin.  It is used primarily for acne scar treatments and facial rejuvenation, especially in men and women within the workforce.  Laser resurfacing is one of our most potent weapons against aging, but most of our patients do not have weeks to take off for recovery.  In these instances, we offer fractional laser therapy.  With fractional therapy, recovery occurs over the course of 3-5 days, rather than over weeks with a traditional laser device.

1)   Surgical Scar Resurfacing

2)   Acne Pits and Scarring

3)   Mild to Moderate Fine Lines and Skin Wrinkling

4)   Age Spots (Sun Spots)

5) Natural Appearing Skin Tightening

Fractional laser can be done with or without sedation, and takes around 30-45 minutes.  We commonly recommend that patients undergo a series of fractional laser treatments to maximize their results.  These laser treatment are scheduled at your convenience, and we routinely work it between your social and professional schedule.

Most patients are candidates for fractional laser resurfacing.  Our finest results, however, are in younger patients who have minimal skin aging.  We have seen time and again that early fractional laser therapy resurfacing of skin prevents and delays the onset of aging stigmata.  While this treatment is extremely effective in all age groups, we find that this modality is especially effective in men and women between 35 and 50.

How does Fractional Laser Work?

Fractionated laser, also known as fractional laser, is a laser system that interacts with only a percentage, or fraction, of the skin targeted. For example, a full field ablative laser will target and deliver energy to the full area that is targeted. Conversely, a fractional laser will only deliver energy to a percentage of the skin being treated. Confused yet? Imagine a sniper scope on a rifle. The entire circle of the scope represents a skin area. Full field ablative laser will deliver a laser to 100% of the target every time it is activated, but a fractional laser will only deliver a laser to a part of the target.

Left sided circle represents a full field ablative laser beam. Right sided circle represents a fractional laser beam. Note that only a “fraction” of the skin is resurfaced on the right in a fractional laser treatment. Hence, the term fractional laser resurfacing. The figure on the left shows how fractional laser therapy delivers a “grid” of energy pulses to the skin area being treated. These barely visible energy beams penetrate the epidermis, and pierce into the dermis at a depth decided upon by Dr. Durkin. This treatment catalyzes your own skin to produce new, vibrant collagen that bubbles up to the surface, and your skin auto-rejuvenates over the course of days to months as fresh collagen covers your entire skin surface.

Benefits of Fractional Laser

So does this mean that fractional is better than full field ablative laser? The answer is yes and no. As with anything there are pros and cons to any type of laser procedure undertaken, and the comparison between full field and fractional laser therapy is no different. The primary benefit of fractionated laser therapy is that it allows Dr. Durkin to directly modulate your downtime while still producing a good skin result. Because the fractional platform at Ocean Drive Plastic Surgery allows Dr. Durkin to direct the percentage of skin treated per pass (5.5% to 30%), and directly control the depth of penetration to within 25 microns, we can effectively predict downtime following laser therapy. As well, our laser allows us to separately deliver coagulative energy and ablative energy, meaning that we can tailor the laser effect to an individual’s skin type.

Modify your own downtime from 2-14 days

Because of the ability to tailor the laser therapy to each individual patient, laser patients at Ocean Drive Plastic Surgery are given the option on how long they can afford to be away from work, travel, vacation, etc. This gives an incredible sense of safety and comfort to our laser clients, as they know that their overall life schedule will not be proverbially “thrown out of whack” because of their investment in their appearance. Downtime following fractional laser therapy can be tailored between 2 days to 14 days, depending on how much result you want from your initial treatment, and how much time you can spend on recovery. Most patients who opt for fractional laser therapy have very busy social or work schedule, and only have a few days or a weekend to recover.

Effective for Fitzpatrick Skin types I-IV

The other major advantage of fractional laser therapy is that the chances of hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation are markedly reduced as compared to full field ablative laser. This allows fractional laser to be used in women with olive, and deeper toned skin, making this procedure as popular amongst Asian, Hispanic, and Indian men and women as it is with Caucasian patients. This laser platform has been used safely in Fitzpatrick skin types I-IV without scarring or pigmentation changes. Comparatively, full field ablative lasers very commonly produce pigmentation changes when used on patients who have deeper skin tones.

Induce New Collagen Formation

The last, and without question, the most important benefit of fractionated laser therapy is its ability to induce the formation of new, healthy, type I collagen in the epidermis and dermis. Use of laser therapy is a direct investment in your skin quality. Patients will immediately see and feel a tightening of their skin, a reduction in pore size, and an improvement of texture throughout their face. Skin will feel softer, and look younger within days of treatment. However, the benefits of this therapy are far longer lasting than just the initial outcome. Over the course of months, the dermis will continue to produce new, healthy, organized collagen, leading to a marked reduction in the appearance of aging. As such, the best results that we see with fractionated laser are in those patients who undertake a series of these treatments, rather than those who only receive one session. By spacing out treatments over months to years, patients can maintain a youthful skin quality as they age.

Recovery Time: Fractional vs. Full Ablative Laser

With fractional laser, your result per treatment is directly proportionate to how much downtime you can afford. Full field ablative laser patients tend to undertake one treatment every 10-15 years, while many fractional patients receive ongoing treatment annually to maintain their skin quality. As comparison, a series of three fractional laser treatments traditionally produces around 70-75% of a full field ablative laser result with downtime after therapy decided upon by the patient’s schedule over time. Conversely, full field ablative laser treatments are best for patients who are willing to accept a “twilight” anesthetic, and want one treatment that will last years but require 1-2 weeks of downtime. Fractional laser treatments, on the other hand, are best suited for patients who want to incrementally improve and maintain their appearance without significant downtime, but are more amenable to ongoing therapy.

Am I a Candidate for Fractional Laser Treatments?

Fractional laser therapy is routinely applied to patients of all ages (25-70 years old) who want to comprehensively improve and/or maintain their appearance over time. Interestingly, men undertake fractionated laser therapy just as often as women at Ocean Drive Plastic Surgery. The procedure primarily targets texture problems, like fine lines and wrinkles, rough skin texture, enlarged pore size, and toneless flat-appearing skin. Patients typically receive a series of treatments until their desired result is achieved. Subsequently, maintenance treatments should be undertaken, with the best results being seen by patients undertaking annual boosting treatments. While it does improve brown spots and pigmented lesions, it is not as effective in treating these issues as broad-band light therapy, and other laser therapies. Fractional laser is often combined with Botox, dermal filler therapy, Kybella, as well as with invasive therapies, such as facelift, eyelid surgery, and others. Most patients request a downtime between 2-7 days, with patients receiving more energy leaning towards more dramatic results with longer recovery.

Our most common fractional patient will undertake a series of two to three moderate depth fractional laser treatments, each having a 2-3 day downtime. Fractional laser treatments do not require any IV anesthesia or sedation. Patients receive topical numbing with a compounded BMT cream, and comfort is maximized with a Zimmer chiller. The procedure takes approximately 45 minutes, and is well tolerated by men and women of all ages. Post-procedure, patients apply a series of hydrating creams designed to maximize result, and minimize downtime. There are no restrictions on exercise, physical activity, or showering. Most patients, as stated above, use fractional laser therapy in an incremental way to maximize their long term result without the need for prolonged downtime.

Fractional laser therapy is one of the best-kept skin maintenance secrets for men and women. In our practice, our best skin results are clearly seen with patients who maintain fractional laser therapy on at least an annual basis to keep skin soft, elastic, and glowing. Because we can tailor downtime, this modality is routinely used for the finest in skin maintenance. This type of therapy is especially popular amongst 35-50 year old patients who want to prevent problems before they occur. For older patients who present with skin issues, we employ fractional therapy until we achieve our desired result, and then set patients up on an annual maintenance schedule. Fractional laser therapy is also the gold standard therapy for acne pitting and scarring. Patients with acne scarring are typically treated with a series of three to five fractional laser sessions. A balance of coagulative and ablative depths are always used in these patients in the attempt to create a smoother skin texture. Lastly, fractional laser therapy is, in our opinion, the best available skin maintenance following facelift or eyelid surgery. We strongly encourage all of our facelift patients to undertake fractionated laser therapy moving forward to support their skin tone and maintain their facelift result by continually improving their skin collagen.

Laser Menu of Services

  • HALO Laser Treatments

    Get the HALO glow with this hybrid laser treatment. Less pain and downtime than other laser treatments.

  • Laser Skin Resurfacing

    Full field ablative laser provides more significant results, often with just one treatment but, has longer recovery times

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