Laser Treatments: Understanding the Differences

Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment

This is one of the most advanced laser skin resurfacing treatments today, and the one that is safest for all skin types and colors.

In this procedure, the fractional laser breaks up into tiny beams, removing tiny columns of the skin while leaving enough of the surrounding skin intact to assist in healing. This means that it is a little less intense than older CO2 treatments. It is fantastic at removing age spots, sun damage, wrinkles, scarring, uneven skin texture and uneven skin coloration.

It can take about two weeks to recover from this type of laser treatment, but a single procedure can be very effective at eliminating your skin issues.

Ablative CO2 Laser Treatment

This is an older, though still highly effective, CO2 laser treatment. Unlike a fractional CO2 laser, an ablative CO2 laser will remove almost all of the surface layer of your skin. This makes it unsuitable for many of those with darker skin, as it can cause pigmentation issues and discoloration (hypopigmentation). Because this treatment removes the entire top layer of your skin, it can also be unsuitable for those with more sensitive skin types.

Fraxel Laser Skin Rejuvenation

Fraxel is a slightly gentler laser treatment that is generally used as a first choice to treat acne scars, and is also effective to treat sun damage wrinkles. Unlike C02 lasers, both fractional and ablative, there is little downtime associated with Fraxel, as the laser doesn’t fully penetrate the skin. It is also generally seen to be safer for those with darker skin colors, as long as it is in the hands of an experienced, ISAPS plastic surgeon. There is some controversy about this, however, as many plastic surgeons believe that those with darker skin tones should avoid Fraxel completely.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Technically this isn’t a laser treatment, but is often lumped together with them as it treats sun spots, skin discolorations, rosacea and visible veins beneath the skin. IPL delivers a very specific, intense pulse of light that penetrates just below the skin’s surface and is one of the most popular procedures we offer at SkinSpaMED.

This light intentionally damages skin pigment and tiny blood vessels. As your body’s natural healing processes kick in, the pigment and damaged veins fade from your skin. As IPL specifically targets skin pigmentation, it is not an appropriate treatment for those with darker skin.