Fractional laser skin treatment is a non-invasive treatment that uses a laser beam device to treat thousands of pinpoint areas that targets a fraction of the skin at a time. Fractional laser treatment has bridged the gap between the ablative and non-ablative laser techniques used to treat skin conditions. While, ablative laser treatments work mainly on the surface skin cells (epidermal), non-ablative treatments work solely on the mid-layer of skin (dermal) only, fractional laser treatment works at both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin.
The first fractional laser marketed was the Fraxel® device, however apart from that, there are a number of machines available that use fractional technology, based on erbium, YAG lasers for superficial treatments and CO2 lasers for deeper treatments.
What is fractional laser skin treatment used to treat?
Fractional laser skin treatment is used for the treatment of wrinkles and fine lines, skin pigmentation associated with photo aging, post-traumatic scars, surgical and acne scars, sun-induced damage and aged skin, chloasma and stretch marks.
Fractional laser skin treatment can be used on any part of the body, but it is commonly used on the neck, chest and hands when compared to traditional ablative modalities.
How does the fractional laser skin treatment work?
To understand how fractional laser skin treatment works a basic understanding of skin structure is required. The skin is made up of 3 layers, the epidermis (uppermost layer), dermis (mid-lay) and subcutis (lower fat layer). The epidermis contains pigment-producing cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for skin coloring. The dermis is made up of collagen and elastin fibres that provide the skin with strength, toughness, elasticity and pliability. As individual ages, the skin undergoes changes as well. For instance, the epidermis becomes thinner so blemishes become more visible, and collagen in the dermis is progressively lost which contributes to the formation of facial lines and wrinkles.
The fractional laser skin treatment carried out by Montreal International Clinic, works by targeting both the epidermis and dermis. The laser beam is divided into thousands of small but deep columns and is sent out into the skin. These are called microthermal treatment zones (MTZs) and with each MTZ old epidermal pigmented cells are expelled and penetration of collagen in the dermis causes a reaction that leads to collagen remodelling and new collagen formation. The laser targets and treats intensively within the area, while the surrounding healthy tissue remains intact and unaffected. Fractional laser skin treatment directly targets the skin, therefore, the healing time is much faster.
Who makes a good candidate for the treatment?
Those who are looking for younger, wrinkle-free and blemish-free skin are ideal candidates for laser skin treatment. Also, those who want to go through a very comfortable treatment and with a fast recovery time, fractional laser skin treatment is the ideal option.
Patients may need a series of 1 – 4 treatments, spaced a month or two apart, depending upon the needs and the area that is treated. Certain patients may need a combination of other procedures, to further enhance the treatment result.
What to expect after the treatment and aftercare?
After the treatment, the patient may experience redness resembling sunburn in the area that was treated. Healing will depend on the channel depth and also on the numbers of the channels. Healing takes about three days and most patients can return to their normal activities within a day or two after the treatment.
It is important to follow our dermatologist’s instructions, which may include some skin care products and guidelines on how to use them. Try to avoid direct sun exposure until the redness has faded as the skin can be very sensitive to ultraviolet light after the procedure.
What are the side effects and complications?
Patients normally experience a slight crusting of the skin surface on dressings. This will clear with the use of a moisturizer or petroleum jelly. Also, the redness may persist for a few days but will fade away.