What is the difference between ablative and non-ablative laser resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing is the treatment of choice for many people concerned with skin rejuvenation issues. In the hands of a skilled medical practitioner such as Dr Asif Hussein, amazing results can be achieved to improve your skin’s appearance and treat a wide range of facial flaws. Laser resurfacing can reduce the appearance of fine lines, treat loss of skin tone and improve your complexion if you have sun damage or scars.

But before you go ahead with any specific procedure, it is a good idea to understand a bit more about what is involved. While all laser treatment for skin rejuvenation uses energy to penetrate through skin layers in order to repair the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration, acne scars and signs of ageing, there are broadly two types of laser skin resurfacing approaches: Ablative lasers remove the top layer of the skin, while non-ablative lasers are used to heat up the underlying skin tissue without harming the surface.

Ablative Laser Resurfacing

Often referred to as CO2 lasers or wounding lasers, ablative laser treatments use an intense wavelength of light to remove the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and heat the underlying skin (dermis) to stimulate the growth of new collagen fibres. Types of ablative treatments include the CO2 and Erbium YAG laser. As the skin heals and regrows, the treated area appears noticeably smoother and tighter.

Dr Hussein is one of the most experienced laser surgeons specialising in fully ablative laser resurfacing and is able to treat many skin issues such as wrinkles, laxity, acne scars, pigmentation, sun damage and pre-cancerous lesions. It is by far the most powerful facial skin treatment and the gold standard for skin rejuvenation and acne scarring. The results achieved are permanent.

While ablative lasers are more invasive than non-ablative laser treatments, they can achieve dramatic improvements after a single treatment. However, patients should be prepared for several weeks of recovery time during which any discomfort will be medicated. Ablative laser surgery is the most appropriate choice for individuals who

  • Show significant signs of facial ageing
  • Have deep or pitted facial scars
  • Are looking for fast, permanent results
  • Can take time off to recover

Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing

Non-ablative laser treatment is comparatively less invasive. Also known as non-wounding lasers, they work by delivering a precise wavelength of light below the skin’s surface to induce a controlled injury, which promotes cellular renewal and the production of collagen, a structural protein that is responsible for skin elasticity, integrity and firmness. The surface of the skin remains undamaged. This type of treatment is best for improving skin texture and tone, fine lines, mild wrinkles and pigmentation issues.

A number of treatments may be needed to see significant results, however the downtime for non-ablative laser treatments is greatly reduced, as is the potential for side effects. Like ablative laser resurfacing, non-ablative treatments are highly effective. There is usually swelling and redness after treatment and would have to be off for 4-5 days as opposed to 2 weeks with fully ablative.

Non-ablative lasers can be used on any skin type and colour, and make-up can often be applied straight after the treatment, making this type of treatment perfect for slotting into a busy day.

Non-ablative laser surgery is the most appropriate choice for individuals who

  • Show mild to moderate signs of ageing
  • Are younger (under 65 years)
  • Prefer to have multiple treatments before seeing noticeable results
  • A shorter recovery time. (4-5 days)

How to proceed with treatment

If you are interested in laser skin rejuvenation, choosing the right specialist is key to getting the best possible results. Dr Hussein is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of cosmetic dermatology and skin laser surgery with a wealth of specialist hands-on experience in all types of laser surgery. You really couldn’t be in better hands.

Book a personal consultation with Dr Hussein to discuss your skin concerns and treatment goals. He will ask about your medical history, inspect the area of skin to be treated and discuss your expectations before making his recommendations for the best laser treatment for your needs.

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