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Fractional Non-Ablative Lasers

Which skin conditions can be treated with fractional non-ablative lasers and what types of lasers are used?
| 5 min read

Whilst fractional ablative lasers were a major advance in skin resurfacing and the treatment of scars, the recovery time and risks meant that they were not suitable for all patients. This led to the development of non-ablative fractional lasers, such as the erbium glass laser. Whilst these generally will not achieve the same degree of improvement as fractional ablative lasers they can cause significant improvement with minimal downtime and low risks – even in pigmented skin types. I use the Palomar ICON (pictured; at Skin55 Ltd) and the Lumenis Resurfyx (at OneWelbeck and 152 Harley Street).

Indications for Fractional Non-Ablative Laser Treatment

Fractional non-ablative erbium glass lasers are primarily used to treat skin conditions that require collagen stimulation or skin resurfacing with minimal downtime. Some common indications for this treatment include:

  1. Fine lines and wrinkles
  2. Acne scars
  3. Surgical or traumatic scars
  4. Mild to moderate sun damage and age spots
  5. Skin texture irregularities
  6. Enlarged pores
  7. Skin tightening and rejuvenation

They can also help with pigmentation, however will generally be less effective than more specialist treatments for this indication.

What to Expect During Treatment

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  1. Pre-treatment preparation: Your skin will be cleansed, and a topical anesthetic may be applied to minimize discomfort during the procedure.
  2. Laser treatment: Dr Lynch will use the fractional non-ablative laser to deliver controlled pulses of energy to the targeted areas. This creates microscopic columns of thermal injury in the skin while leaving the outer layers intact, stimulating collagen production and promoting skin resurfacing. Several passes may be required in each area.
  3. Post-treatment care: We will apply a soothing ointment or gel to your skin and provide you with specific aftercare instructions to optimize healing.
  4. Recovery period: The healing process for fractional non-ablative laser treatment is typically shorter than that of ablative lasers, with most patients experiencing only mild redness and swelling for a few days.

Benefits of Fractional Non-Ablative Laser Treatment

  1. Collagen stimulation: The treatment promotes collagen production, which can help improve skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and tighten the skin.
  2. Minimal downtime: Fractional non-ablative erbium glass lasers offer skin resurfacing and collagen stimulation with minimal downtime, making them an attractive option for those seeking effective results without the extended recovery time associated with ablative laser treatments.
  3. Long-lasting results: Fractional non-ablative laser treatment often provides long-lasting improvement in appearance.

Risks and Side Effects

As with any medical procedure, fractional non-ablative erbium glass laser treatments do carry some risks and potential side effects:

  1. Pain or discomfort: Some patients may experience mild pain or discomfort during the treatment, which can be managed with topical anesthetics or cooling devices.
  2. Redness and swelling: Temporary redness and swelling may occur after treatment but typically resolve within a day or two.
  3. Pigment changes: Rarely, fractional non-ablative erbium glass laser treatments may cause temporary or permanent changes in skin pigmentation, particularly in individuals with darker skin tones. Hypopigmentation (lightening) or hyperpigmentation (darkening) can occur in some cases. Topical treatments can be prescribed to minimize these risks.
  4. Infection can occur but is rare.

Useful information

Consent Form Fractional Non-Ablative Laser

Questions about non-ablative fractional lasers

 What is non-ablative fractional laser treatment?
 How does non-ablative fractional laser treatment work?
 Is non-ablative fractional laser treatment painful?
 How many treatments are needed for optimal results?
 What should I expect during the recovery period?
 Are there any risks or side effects associated with non-ablative fractional laser treatment?
 How long do the results of non-ablative fractional laser treatment last?
 Is non-ablative fractional laser treatment suitable for all skin types?
 Can non-ablative fractional laser treatment be combined with other treatments?
 How much does non-ablative fractional laser treatment cost?

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