Today’s lasers can diminish many signs of aging — from early wrinkles and age spots to deep lines and spider veins. A laser procedure often can be performed in less than an hour and may require little or no downtime.
Numerous lasers and light devices are used to rejuvenate the skin. These devices are generally grouped into the following categories:
- Non-ablative laser rejuvenation– No downtime. Best for early signs of aging.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL)– Not a laser, this light therapy penetrates deeper into the skin than a non-ablative laser. IPL does not injure the surface of the skin, so there is usually no downtime. IPL can improve skin texture and color as well as reduce pore size.
- Photodynamic therapy (PDT)– This is a two-step procedure. First, a solution that makes the skin more sensitive to light is applied and left on for 30 minutes or longer. Then light from the laser or other source is beamed onto the treated area. Downtime is minimal. PDT decreases redness, reduces age spots and freckles, and improves the overall texture and appearance of the skin.
- Fractional laser rejuvenation– Offers deeper rejuvenation. Recovery time is short. Best for diminishing signs of aging such as age spots, wrinkles, and skin discoloration.
- Ablative laser resurfacing– Heats the skin to cause a visible wound, which means some downtime for recovery. Effective for deeper wrinkles and diminishing aging caused by years of unprotected sun exposure. A type of laser called a fractional ablative laser causes no visible wounds. Fractional ablative laser resurfacing requires less downtime than ablative laser resurfacing.
Lasers and other light-based devices are used to treat these concerns:
- Age (sun) spots
- Dark circles under the eye
- Dry, dull skin
- Fine lines
- Hand rejuvenation (age spots, loose skin, and lines)
- Redness and flushing
- Seborrheic keratoses (flat only)
- Skin texture (treats roughness)
- Skin tone (treats mottled complexion and skin discoloration)
- Spider veins
- Stretch marks
- Tattoos (removal)
- Unwanted hair
- Varicose veins