Types of lasers and the associated treatments
What distinguishes the various types of lasers are a few factors, namely its wavelength and mode of delivery. Based on the said criteria, lasers can be categorized; however, asidefrom these two most important factors, a number of other elements can influence the categorization of lasers: the combination of lasers with gases, precious stones and metals.
Nonetheless, the two broad categories are ablative lasers and non-ablative ones
In this method, an intense wavelength of light is projected on the skin by the use of which the outer damaged or sunburnt layers of skin are removed. Through stimulating the deeper layers of skin, collagen is formed beneath the skin and the result is a significantimprovement in the shape and overall condition of wrinkles. Subsequent to applying a laser to the skin, some sort of ointment is put on the skin. After healing, the new patch of skin on the treated area will emerge with a smoother and finer quality. There are two major types of ablative lasers: Carbon Dioxide Laser and Erbium Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet.
A: Carbon Dioxide Laser (Co2): As a traditional method that was first established in the 1960s, it has both benefits and drawbacks. In terms of shortcomings, it can be said that this first subcategory is not suitable for darker skin tones. Moreover, recovery time can be extended to a period longer than expected by such treatments and it risks such side effects as pain, itching, burning sensation, skin redness and scarring.
On the other hand, the said procedure benefits from some advantages as follows: it is ideal to treat skin cancer, acne scars, birthmarks, deep wrinkles, moles, saggy skin, sun damage and corns on feet, among other issues.
B: Erbium Yttrium-Aluminum-Garnet (Er:YAG): This second subcategory of ablative lasers is the ideal treatment for surface level and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on certain areas of the body: hands, face, chest or neck. The winning card for YAG is the fact that it takes considerably less time to heal compared to the other methods and yieldsfewer side effects. Common side effects might range from redness to swelling and bruising which may last for a couple of weeks. It is mainly used to treat pigmentation problems, acne scars, fine lines, sun damage and small to moderate wrinkles.
The non-ablative method differs from the ablative method in that while the former heats and removes the surface layers of skin, the latter works beneath the surface of the skin and stimulates collagen growth, thus tightening the underlying skin layers and improving the skin tone at the same time. It helps remove fine lines and mild to moderate skin damage. A variety of laser-based treatments can be categorized under this broad category:
A: Pulsed dye laser: Through targeting the blood vessels and shrinking them, this kind of treatment reduces the redness of the skin. This particular procedure usually requires 3 to 5 sessions to yield proper results which are, more often than not, permanent. This method works best with varicose veins, birthmarks, stretch marks, and fine lines around the eyes.