Sun spots, dark spots, age spots: call it what you want, but sun damage is a difficult skin concern to contend with, particularly when it seems like your skin is now bearing the consequences of all those years of not wearing sunscreen as much as you should have. But even if correcting sun damage is difficult, it isn’t impossible. At Guelph Medical Laser and Skin Centre in Ontario, we know that even the worst sun damage can be healed with Fraxel laser treatments.
Sun Damage Solution: Are Fraxel Results Permanent?
When patients seek laser treatments, one of their first questions is whether or not the results of the treatment will be permanent. Unfortunately, while the results of Fraxel laser treatments can last for a long time, they aren’t permanent. Laser treatments for issues such as scarring tend to last a lifetime, but laser treatments for superficial skin concerns such as sun damage only tend to last for as long as you continue preventing further damage.
To be clear, patients who seek this particular laser treatment for sun damage can expect results that will last between 12 and 24 months at a time. The longevity of your results from this treatment will depend on the degree of severity of your sun damage, as well as factors like your age and the general condition of your skin. Younger patients or those who have less sun damage may find that the results of their treatment will last closer to two years, rather than one.
How Frequently Should You Have Top-Up Treatments?
To maintain the results of your treatment, you will need to have top-up treatments every once in a while. The average patient usually opts to have one top-up appointment once a year to maintain the most results of the treatment, even if it doesn’t seem like the results of your treatment are fading quite yet.
In fact, seeking an additional annual treatment before you need to correct additional skin concerns is the best way to stay ahead of the visible effect of ageing on your skin.
What Is the Best Way to Prolong Your Results?
If you want to have even less frequent top-up appointments and prolong your results for as long as possible, then there are a few things you will want to keep in mind. The best way to prolong the results of your treatment is to prevent further sun damage, which essentially means being careful about your sun exposure. There are two main products you will want to remain stocked-up on to protect your skin for the long-term.
Sun Care Products
Using adequate sun protection anytime you plan to be outside in the sun – even out running errands or going to work – means finding non-comedogenic sun care products that work for your skin type. For most people, this means finding a day cream or a light-weight mineral sunscreen that is graded between SPF 30 and 50, depending on the fairness of your skin. Lighter skin types need stronger SPF.
Suncare products that offer adequate protection aren’t only important to prevent future sun damage and dark spots – it’s also important to prevent further signs of visible ageing. Exposure to UV rays is one of the quickest ways to prematurely age yourself, as UV rays break down the natural skin barrier, which increases the depletion of proteins like collagen that keep you looking young.
Vitamin C Products
It’s also important to use products that have Vitamin C in them, such as a serum or a moisturizer. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help your skin fight against free radicals, which in this case would be the UV rays that cause your skin cells to break down more quickly. Many dermatologists recommend incorporating a Vitamin C product into daytime wear, but others also suggest that using Vitamin C products in the morning and at night to get the best results.
How Does Fraxel Work?
Fraxel is an ablative laser skin resurfacing treatment, which means the primary purpose of this laser is to create a controlled injury to the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural healing response. In most cases, this means shedding skin cells and stimulating important proteins within the skin.
The treatment itself is performed using a small handheld device and consists of an aesthetician holding the device over areas of your skin until all treatment locations have been addressed.
How Does This Treatment Work for Sun Damage?
Sun damage occurs when UV rays cause the melanin in your skin to darken in uneven patches, which is what creates dark spots. Sometimes, sun damage can even refer to broken capillaries on the nose and cheeks.
To correct sun damage on your skin, ablative laser treatments must penetrate the first few layers of your skin to encourage your skin to turn over new, healthy cells that have not been affected by sun exposure. Doing this refreshes and resurfaces your skin for an all-over even tone and texture.
What Should You Expect From Treatment?
Although ablative laser treatments are non-invasive and non-surgical, they still require a consultation before your first treatment. This is so you will know what to expect from your treatment and your aftercare, as well as what your results will be like when you are fully healed.
Your consultation will consist of an examination of your skin, specifically the extent of your sun damage, and will review any previous cosmetic treatments you have tried to correct your skin condition. We may want to talk about what caused your sun damage, such as whether the damage occurred after prolonged tanning bed usage or from previous sunburns.
Your treatment appointments will take less than one hour to complete. The first portion of your treatment appointment will likely consist of the application of a topical numbing cream, which will keep your skin comfortable for the duration of the treatment and which requires about 20 to 30 minutes to activate. Once your skin is numbed, we will then move on with your laser treatment, which will take another 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
How Many Treatments Will You Need?
For laser skin resurfacing that addresses primarily superficial concerns, such as sun damage, most patients will require less than three treatments to achieve their ideal results. You may require fewer treatments if your sun damage is minor, and more treatments if your sun damage is severe. For treating skin texture issues, such as acne scarring, many patients will require three to six appointments.
Your appointments will be spaced out by at least four to six weeks, which is enough time to allow your skin to heal between your appointments. Sometimes, patients have treatment appointments that are spaced more widely apart to give the skin more time to heal, particularly if the patient has sensitive skin. In general, however, four to six weeks is usually enough time for your skin to complete a skin turnover cycle.
How Should You Prepare for Your Treatment?
For laser treatments, there isn’t much you will need to do to prepare for treatments – although you will have a few rules to follow. For one thing, we encourage patients to stay out of direct sunlight for two to four weeks before their treatment and to use adequate sun protection at all times. We also recommend that patients temporarily stop using skin active ingredients, particularly acids and retinoids, for at least two weeks before your treatment appointment.
If you have an active cold sore, fever blister, or skin condition flare-up, you will need to reschedule your treatment. Intense laser treatments such as this one are also not appropriate for pregnant women, so you will need to reschedule your treatment until after your pregnancy.
What Are Your Aftercare Dos and Don’ts?
Your aftercare is likely the most vital component of your treatment. If you want to achieve your desired results, you will need to closely follow the aftercare instructions that are given to you so that you can properly take care of your skin. For example, you will want to sleep with your head elevated on the first night after your treatment and apply cold compresses to your skin.
You will also need to stay away from potentially irritating skincare productions, particularly acids and retinoids, as well as exfoliating scrubs and peels. Patients should wash with mild soap and water and apply gentle moisturizers regularly. Some patients find that aloe vera gel is helpful during recovery. We will provide you with further guidance after your treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Fraxel Laser Treatments?
Ablative laser treatments such as this one typically have quite a few benefits, and this system is no exception. For example, the longevity of the results is one of the best benefits of this treatment. Other benefits include:
This laser treatment is one of the most versatile options on the market. In addition to treating the full spectrum of sun damage, this laser treatment can also address acne scarring, injury scars, fine lines, wrinkles, melasma, enlarged pores, and so much more. The key is in the two different wavelengths for this laser, one of which is ideal for superficial concerns and the other is ideal for texture concerns.
Safe for Most
Generally speaking, laser skin treatments are not always friendly to all skin tones and types due to the risk of pigmentation for darker skin complexions. This particular treatment is ideal for fair and medium-toned skin types. If you have a deeper complexion, please speak with one of our experts about the possibility of using this treatment for your skin concerns.
This treatment also has very short downtimes. In fact, most patients can return to their normal skincare routine within one week of treatment and can return to work much sooner than that. The short downtime is somewhat unique among similar ablative laser treatments, which can sometimes require up to 10 or more days for recovery.
Effective and Reliable
This treatment is also effective. This particular laser treatment system has been cleared by the FDA for the treatment of acne scarring and sun damage since 2006, with further regular studies attesting to the efficacy of the treatment system.
Refine Your Beauty With Fraxel Laser Treatments!
Whether you call them sun spots or dark spots, sun damage isn’t something you have to live with. If you think the Fraxel laser treatment is a good fit for your skin concerns, please contact Guelph Medical Laser and Skin Centre in Ontario today!