Non-ablative Laser Resurfacing for Wrinkles

In non-ablative resurfacing, fractional lasers deliver heat into the skin through thousands of tiny, deep columns known as microthermal treatment zones. The treatment eliminates old epidermal pigmented cells and deposits heat deep into the dermis to tighten skin and stimulate collagen remodeling. Surrounding tissue is unaffected. The fractional approach allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area was treated. Healthy tighter skin grows to replace wrinkled skin. This approach lessens the recovery period and reduces the number of complications that can occur. Multiple sessions are needed in some cases.

Why choose non-ablative laser resurfacing for wrinkles

This non-invasive procedure is a good choice for the treatment of facial wrinkles. It can be performed in a doctor’s office in less than an hour. Recovery time is minimal.

Before (top) and one month after (bottom) non-ablative laser resurfacing.

Photo courtesy of Suzanne Bruce, MD - Houston, Texas

What you should know about non-ablative resurfacing for wrinkles

During the procedure, the treatment area is first cleansed. Next, a laser head is passed over the treatment area in a series of horizontal and vertical overlapping passes. Most patients experience a mild prickling or burning sensation during the process. In some cases, the doctor will apply a topical anesthetic beforehand, or apply a cooling mechanism during treatment. The procedure typically takes 20 to 25 minutes. The fractional lasers used in non-ablative resurfacing use lower energy levels than ablative lasers, which resurface or remove the outer layer of skin completely. Fractional lasers treat the layers of skin under the surface without damaging the surface.

Heat from the laser promotes collagen production, which helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. The results, however, are less pronounced than the more aggressive approach of ablative laser resurfacing.

Possible risks

As with any treatment, there are risks associated it, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. These include:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Infection
  • Scarring

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will usually review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks and outcomes of the procedure.

What to expect after the procedure

  • Most patients can return to work immediately after the procedure.
  • Redness caused by the treatment can be camouflaged by makeup without any negative effects.
  • The treatment area should be kept well moisturized.
  • Patients should avoid sleeping on the treatment area to prevent swellings.
  • Cold compresses can be applied to alleviate pain.
  • Sun exposure should be avoided during treatment and healing phases, and sunscreens of at least SPF 30 should be applied.