Laser Resurfacing As a Preventative Cosmetic Procedure?

Does laser (CO2) resurfacing have any benefit in the removal of sun damage that is not yet apparent? It obviously has great potential in improving evident pigmentation problems, but what about deeper spots that have not yet manifested themselves on the skin's surface?

Doctor Answers 7

Don't take laser resurfacing too lightly

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It would not be appropriate to use a laser prophylactically to treat sun damage that has not yet become visible. Lasers are commonly used in aesthetic medicine but there are risks to any procedure and the benefits need to outweigh the risks to be reasonable proceeding. The main risks of a laser resurfacing procedure are burn scars that are caused from going too deep and hypopigmentation where the color of the skin is permanently pale.

There are much less invasive ways to improve your skin but remember that no skin care regimen is better than sun avoidance.

Any exfoliative procedure can treat sun damage

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LAser resurfacing is one method of exfoliation that removes top layers of the skin that have been damaged.

Actinic damage however can affect all layers of the skin and even penetrate into the dermis.

If any resurfacing procedure treats to deeply, scarring can result. To some degree, this has generated greater enthusiasm for fractionated therapy where the energy is delivered as a column and removing tissue in a vertical pattern rather than a horizontal pattern with resurfacing techniques. This preserves islands of intact skin that allows more rapid recove

Treatment of sun damage with laser

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It very well might help in this regard but the risk of Carbon dioxide laser treatment (not fractional CO2) may not be warranted if there is not enough sun damage to see clearly. The risks include scarring and long term redness and thinning and whitening of the skin. Fractional laser resurfacing such as Fraxel Re:store and Re:pair have less risk than the older CO2 laser resurfacing and also may help reduce photodamage. Keep in mind that any laser resurfacing has a risk of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or in other words, your pigment may get darker as you heal in the first few months after treatment.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

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Laser resurfacing as a preventative treatment for sun damage

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  This is an excellent question.  Any deep resurfacing procedure would be effective as a preventative cosmetic procedure.  Superficial peels which only exfoliate the outer skin layers would not be effective in this regard. 

Lawrence Kass, MD
Saint Petersburg Oculoplastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 138 reviews

Fractional Ablative 2940 Erbium laser resurfacing safer preventative treatment

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The newer fractional ablative 2940 Erbium laser resurfacing is very effective at removing sun damage and building new collagen, without the risks and painful recovery of CO2 laser resurfacing.

Down time and recovery is minimal with the fractional 2940 Erbium.

The CO2 ablative flat beam resurfacing removes skin, thins the skin and can cause hypopigmentation,

The newer fractional ablative 2940 Erbium actually build new collagen and plumps the skin and improves skin texture.

The newer fractional Erbium ablative 2940 is by far your best option for preventative skin care.

Laser resurfacing can absolutely be done as preventative measure

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Laser resurfacing along with chemical peels, dermabrasion, dermasanding, can all remove cells that have accumulated sun damage over the years. The removed cells are then replaced with cells that are new from deep within the hair follicle which "resurfaces" the skin that has been treated.

There are many scientific studies out there and most of them are related to chemical peels which show the benefits of removing precancerous cells in the skin. Many of these studies have shown that the progression to precancerous lesions such as actinic keratoses are significantly reduced when some deeper form of resurfacing is done. These resurfacing procedures have been shown to be as effective as topical chemotherapy such as 5-fluorouracil.

Philip Young, MD
Bellevue Facial Plastic Surgeon

Sun spot prevention

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The best preventative measure to keep healthy skin is to avoid th sun and wear sun block. You should also not smoke.  Other than that, I would not use lasers prophylactically.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.