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Laser Skin Resurfacing - When Acne Scars Need that Extra Push

Most people suffer from acne at some point in their lives, and it's no secret that the experience can be fairly miserable. Recent advances in research have led to a whole new slew of skin care products to help clear skin up...but what about the scars left behind? There are a number of over-the-counter products aimed at reducing the appearance of acne scars, including ingredients like silicone, cortisone, vitamin A and vitamin C. These products have great results helping both minor hypertrophic and slightly depressed scars, but sometimes a stronger method of treatment is needed to get the desired effect. This is when laser skin resurfacing may become a consideration.

Laser skin resurfacing uses a beam of laser energy to remove the top few layers of skin, taking away the damaged skin so that new and healthy skin can replace it. There are several advantages that laser resurfacing may have over other types of superficial scar treatment. First, this treatment is quite quick, and can often be performed in a surgeon's or dermatologist's office. It's also been reported that there are fewer scars and less bleeding and bruising than experienced with chemical peels and dermabrasion. Generally speaking, with laser resurfacing only local anesthesia is required, although treatment of larger areas of the face may require intravenous sedation. Finally, many doctors claim that lasers allow much greater precision in the number of skin layers removed in the treatment, especially since the physician can observe the effects on acne scars as the treatment progresses.

This said, laser skin resurfacing might not be the best form of acne scar treatment for everyone. It is recommended primarily for those with fair complexions whose skin doesn't have a tendency towards allergic rashes. Those with darker skin tones, or who tan easily may experience discolouration or markings on the treated areas. Also, while the recovery time is much shorter than for other procedures, healing isn't instantaneous. Patients report weeping of their skin for a few days after laser resurfacing, an expected reaction as collagen forms to rebuild the skin layers. Following a few days of weeping, the skin frequently crusts over, and needs to be kept moist in order to protect the recovering skin. New skin should cover the treated area soon after, and redness should have faded significantly within a month or so, but it has been reported that some patients have had to wait up to 12 or even 18 months before their skin has finally improved to its full potential.

There are several different types of lasers used for skin resurfacing, and each with their own results. Ultra pulsed CO2 lasers can have the most dramatic effects of the group, removing the top layer of skin but also tightening and smoothing the lower skin layers through stimulating collagen production. This means that even deep acne scars can be reduced with this laser. The CO2 lasers, while highly effective, are also associated with the highest level of discomfort during the procedure and the most persistent redness afterwards. The Erbium Yag laser is thought to be a more moderate acne scar treatment than the CO2 laser. Its energy wavelength can be absorbed by water in the cells, which minimizes the heat damage to surrounding skin. Since it is more gentle, it can be less effective on acne scars than the CO2 laser, but patients seem to report a much quicker recovery time and less overall redness in the first few weeks after treatment. Finally, non-ablative lasers are one of the least invasive skin resurfacing treatments for acne scars. They stimulate collagen growth under the skin without removing the top layer of skin, so that there is almost no recovery time at all. The down side to non-ablative lasers is that the effects are only minimal for severe acne scarring.

These are only a few of the more common methods of laser skin resurfacing, so it's well worth your time to do the extra research. Some lasers are intended for specific types of acne scars (either hypertrophic or depressed scars), so you'll want to be sure that you're pursuing the right course of treatment for your skin. A dermatologist could easily advise you on this. Furthermore, laser skin resurfacing isn't a non-invasive process, so the amount of time you're willing to spend recovering from the procedure may also play a role in deciding the treatment type best suited for you. Acne itself can be quite a traumatic experience, and the scars left behind may be just as devastating. If over-the-counter acne scar treatments haven't had the effect you're looking for, talk to your dermatologist for information about more serious scar treatment methods, including laser skin resurfacing.

About the Author: Author C. L. Jackson wishes the topic of acne was simply an academic interest ... but unfortunately thatís not the case! You'll find much more information on this topic at the author's website

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