Here's How Lasers Can Improve Your Complexion

Few people have flawless skin, and those who do likely had help achieving it. The question is: What kind of help?

The aesthetics industry offers so many options for addressing complexion complaints that it’s challenging to know which work and which are hype.

Rick J. Smith, MD, works with patients throughout East Lansing, Michigan, and knows how confusing the cosmetic landscape can be. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, he has advanced knowledge of facial anatomy and understands how to address skin problems. Although he offers comprehensive surgical options for significant and long-lasting changes, he also knows that not all improvements require a scalpel.

For our patients seeking subtle changes and solutions to skin textural and tonal problems, we provide state-of-the-art laser treatments. Our highly experienced licensed medical esthetician, Kathy Kuehne, administers laser treatments to treat a range of complexion issues, including wrinkles and birthmarks. Here’s how they work.

The science behind lasers

The term laser has become a household word, but it’s actually an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation (LASER). In short, lasers are light beams, but not the kind that comes from a flashlight. 

A flashlight emits a beam with multiple colors and wavelengths (called incoherent energy), but a laser emits coherent light waves that move in the same direction and have the same wavelength. That makes them more powerful and precise. 

Engineers create lasers using glass, gas, or crystals to excite the electrons (light energy) around the atom’s nucleus. This artificial stimulation accelerates the energy source, which increases the production of photons (light particles). The process continuously increases, creating a potent, focused, and versatile light source with endless applications.

Lasers have become integral to almost every industry and your daily life. They’re in barcode scanners at your grocery store, video gaming, music, and even cat toys. At Rick J. Smith, MD, we use lasers to correct complexion problems.

How lasers solve your complexion problems

About a million people a year turn to lasers to fix their complexion complaints. Kathy uses one of two approaches, depending on the depth of your skin issues.

Ablative laser treatments

Ablative means to separate something from its source. Therefore, these laser treatments separate your outer skin layers from the inner layers. 

Technically, we call this treatment fractional CO2 laser resurfacing. Fractional laser treatments create channels in your skin where the laser energy penetrates the deeper layers, leaving adjacent channels untouched. Sparing the neighboring sections of skin means your tissues recover more quickly.

This treatment lifts the surface of your skin and takes the blemishes along with it. Removing the top layer reveals fresher, newer skin layers underneath. 

The treatment also triggers collagen production as your skin heals itself. Collagen is the desirable protein that gives your skin its strength and resilience. Unfortunately, your body slows its collagen production in your mid-20s, so your skin thins and wrinkles as you age. 

Expect some redness and mild swelling after an ablative laser treatment. Cold compresses and rest help with the discomfort.

Nonablative laser treatments

If your skin has only minor blemishes, we recommend our non ablative laser treatments, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Nonablative laser treatments also stimulate collagen production, but they’re less aggressive, so your recovery time is shorter. 

IPL is ideal for hyperpigmentation problems like freckles, rosacea, and age spots. IPL isn’t a true laser since it uses a broadband light spectrum rather than monochromatic light. However, IPL delivers a therapeutic light energy that your skin cells absorb. Then, the cells heat up and die. Your body eventually flushes away the dead pigmented cells, and your skin tone evens. 

If you have any of the following skin issues, our laser treatments can help:

Perfect your skin with our advanced laser treatments — request an appointment online or call Rick J. Smith, MD, today. 

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