People have been using laser technology for cosmetic purposes for years, although the practice has gained popularity just within the last few; from laser skin resurfacing to laser hair removal (approximately 1.09 million laser hair removal procedures were completed in 2017), aesthetic lasers have rapidly increased in demand. However, before you decide to go under the beam of cosmetic lasers, you should understand their reality. When it comes to laser skin resurfacing — which is primarily used for dark spots and fine lines and wrinkle –, here are a few things you need to know.

The season matters

Did you know that autumn is considered “laser season”? This is a direct result of the fact that laser-treated skin is hypersensitive to sun exposure, sometimes for up to a year following certain procedures. This sensitivity causes many cosmetic surgeons to push for laser resurfacing during the fall or winter months when daytime hours are shorter and you’re less likely to incur sun damage.

Certain medications or conditions affect how the skin reacts to laser treatment

You should always discuss your medical history and any medications or supplements you’re taking with your provider before undergoing laser resurfacing. Many acne medications contain isotretinoin (also known as Accutane), which can lead to poor healing and even scarring from laser treatments. At the same time, common over-the-counter products, such as aspirin, can increase your risk of post-procedure bleeding. Sharing these details with your doctor ahead of time can ensure your experience goes as smooth as possible.

There is no catch-all laser treatment

No one laser can treat all patients and all skin concerns. As a result, there are many different varieties of laser options available to choose from depending on your personal needs.

  • CO2 Lasers: CO2 lasers are ablative lasers (ablation refers to the removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes) used to treat scars, warts, wrinkles, and other deeper skin flaws.
  • Erbium Lasers: Erbium lasers can be either ablative or non-ablative, and are used to promote collagen remodeling. This makes them a popular choice for the treatment of fine lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and age spots.
  • Pulsed-Dye Lasers: Pulsed-dye laser technology is typically non-ablative. These lasers heat the skin and absorb pigments to reduce redness, hyperpigmentation, broken capillaries, and rosacea.

Talk with your provider to determine which option is the best fit for your skin concerns.

The more informed you are about your experience with laser technology, the better you’ll be able to adapt your expectations and the more satisfied you’ll be with the results. From cold therapy lasers to ophthalmic lasers, it always pays to do your research ahead of time.