31 May Laser Skin Resurfacing
Pearl Laser Skin Resurfacing
Pearl laser resurfacing is an incredible laser treatment for the face. Pearl is an erbium ablative laser system and whilst not as intense as the classic CO2 laser, erbium is able to offer impressive improvements to the skin with less downtime than traditional CO2 laser. It can even be used on the body to achieve amazing laser skin rejuvenation. And winter is the perfect season to consider this ultimate skin treatment, when the sun is less intense and it’s a little easier to cover up with a hat or an extra scarf. Find out why this is one of Sydney’s favourite laser treatments.
Resurfacing lasers are generally the most aggressive laser treatments offered in clinic. They are designed to deliver high laser energy to the deeper skin layers. They work on a wound healing principle: when the skin is injured, it responds with new collagen and regeneration of damaged tissue. This regrowth of new tissue is what creates the dramatic improvements to skin colour, texture, wrinkles and overall appearance. Skin resurfacing lasers can be categorised as non-ablative or ablative lasers. Ablative laser means it uses enough laser energy to remove layers of skin, non-ablative means it heats the skin layers without physically burning it off. Ablative lasers are generally able to achieve bigger change but are associated with more aftercare and downtime. Lasers can also be classified as non-fractionated or fractionated. The popular Fraxel laser is a common example of a fractionated laser, but there are many other high-quality lasers available. Fractionated lasers selectively target microscopic columns of skin and leave the surrounding skin untouched. By not targeting all the skin at once, fractionated lasers have quicker recovery times but still achieve impressive outcomes.
At MUSE Clinic, we offer the Pearl laser skin resurfacing system which is an ablative laser suitable for surface improvements to sun and age spots, tone and texture of the skin. Pearl Fractional is an ablative fractionated laser capable to delivering energy deep in to the dermis to target wrinkles, enlarged pores, irregular skin texture and acne scarring. When the two lasers are used in combination, we call it Pearl Fusion…the very best of both worlds!
Pearl laser: what to expect
The preparation phase is vital. Once we have decided to perform a Pearl resurfacing treatment, it’s really important that everyone knows what to expect. Sometimes I like patients to have a series of peels before their laser. This ensures that the skin turnover is optimised and we have prepared the deeper layers of the skin for treatment. I think of it as fertilising the grass! The top layers of the skin are going to be removed by Pearl anyway, so it’s more important that the new layers of skin coming up are in as good condition as possible. I also like to get everyone’s home skin regime perfected because we need the skin to repair and regenerate with the best topical regime we can offer, before and after the treatment. If patients are of darker skin type, I will often pre-treat the skin with skin lighteners to minimise the risk of hyperpigmentation after treatment, which can be a concern with our darker skin patients.
On the day, we run through the plan and the sequence of events. I have a pharmacist compounded numbing cream which is applied for 1 hour to the face. It’s really effective and reduces any discomfort to a minimum. I also prefer a couple of painkillers at this point and a very light sedative, just to take the edge off. As a medical practice, it’s important that we provide a safe and comfortable experience. I can also do anaesthetic injections too to numb various areas of your face, and we can combine with nitrous oxide happy gas! My aim is to make it as comfortable and tolerable a treatment as possible!
The actual Pearl lasering component is noisy but not especially painful. It takes about an hour to complete. Immediately afterwards, you can feel a hot or burning sensation in the skin. This tends to last about 15-20 minutes but beyond that, the pain is usually very minimal. Lately, I’ve been applying PRP (platelet-rich plasma) directly on to the skin at this stage and let it sink directly into the skin. PRP is a concentrated solution of plasma, full of platelet and growth factors that help stimulate an amplified repair response. Since adding it, I’m finding that the recovery time is reduced and the repair process is kickstarted. We then use our Healite LED to help calm the skin and start the regeneration process. My preference is that patients continues to come in and have Healite treatment at least every 2nd day. I’m getting the quickest and safest healing with this combination.
The days after treatment
The first few days after treatment can be challenging! You will definitely not be party-ready, so careful planning and scheduling is essential. Make sure you have plenty home duties to do (or plenty Netflix to catch up on!) because you will not be going anywhere for those first few days (other than seeing us at the clinic for Healite!) You’ll be swollen, red, maybe even oozing and weeping a little and gradually over the first few days, the skin will darken, tighten and then start to peel. Day 2-3 is usually the low point: tight, itchy and puffy! When the skin starts to peel (usually day 3-4) it generally starts to feel much better and heals quickly.
I am very strict with the aftercare but we make sure you have plenty of support to make it as easy as possible. It is essential that you wash your skin as directed at least 4 times a day (but the more the better) and apply absolutely nothing other than the barrier cream I give you. Simplicity is most definitely better at this stage. Even the fabric conditioner on your pillow slip can irritate the skin so we have to be super careful. (Don’t worry I give you a pillow case cover!)
After the peeling stage, the skin will remain pink but gradually fade over a few weeks or so but you can at least put make up on at this stage. So all in all, the “social downtime” is usually about a week. As the weeks pass and your Pearl resurfacing becomes a distant memory, your skin continues to get better and better as each new layer of skin is pushed up. I actually think there is ongoing improvement for up to three months. Your skin will be smoother, with more even colour and texture, wrinkles will reduce and that beautiful healthy radiance will return.
This is not a straightforward treatment, which is why many clinics don’t offer it. It takes a lot of preparation, explanation and planning…but it is well worth it. You can achieve results that aren’t achievable with other treatments and whilst there is usually downtime of around a week, if things are planned out properly, you can still put that time to good use. It’s definitely still possible to work from home and use the time productively. I do think a little pre- and post skin work makes a big difference because if you are investing in a bigger treatment with a bit of downtime, we all want you to achieve the very best outcome possible.
Dr Stephen Lowe