What is fractional laser treatment?
A non-invasive treatment that uses a laser device to deliver a beam that target a "fraction" of the skin at a time. This procedure can be compared to the process of a photograph being enhanced pixel by pixel.
Fractional laser treatment has become the bridge between ablative and non-ablative laser techniques. Ablative laser treatments work mainly on the surface skin cells and non ablative treatments function exclusively on mid-layer of skin. Fractional laser treatment works at both layers of skin.
Fractional laser treatment is used for the treatment of :
- Sun damage of skin
- Photo ageing related skin pigmentation
- Surgical scarring
- Acne scarring.
Area of usage of Fractional laser treatment :
This treatment is particularly useful on neck, chest and hands but can be used on any part of body. It can be used in all skin types and patients, however, techniques can vary depending on –
- Patient age
- Skin type
- Sun exposure
- Body part to be treated
Fractional laser treatment can be used in combination with surgery amongst other skin treatments.
Working of fractional laser treatment:
Fractional laser treatment works by targeting both the outer and mid layer of skin. The laser beam is divided into multiple tiny yet penetrating columns that work on the area of interest.
These areas are called microthermal treatment zones (MTZs). Within each MTZ old pigmented cells of the outer skin layer are removed, and the middle layer of skin undergoes remodelling for better functionality. By using MTZS, the laser targets plus treats intensively and exclusively within the zone while surrounding healthy tissue remains unaffected, thereby aiding wound healing. This "fractional" treatment results in an overall faster healing process.
Procedure involved in fractional laser treatment :
- Pre-treatment assessment/preparation = Problem areas are defined and a treatment plan is devised to target the areas for correction.
- Pre-treatment photographs for patient’s benefit to compare pretreatment and post treatment results.
- Patients are asked to remove all makeup. Patients must also wash face with soap and water before treatment.
- The treatment area is anaesthetized using an an aesthetic cream, that takes about 45-60 minutes to numb the treatment area.
- The an aesthetic cream is then removed, and laser lays down an even spot pattern.
- Fractional laser is applied to face to produce MTZ
Full face treatment can take up to 15 minutes, but treatment time will depend on the areas being treated.
The pain associated with the procedure depends on the laser intensity being delivered to the treatment site. An ice pack is usually used to reduce any discomfort during the procedure.
Post treatment, A mild sunburn sensation may linger for about an hour after the procedure.
Swelling is usually minimal and resolves in 2-3 days. Patient’s complexion is likely to have a pinkish tone for 3-5 days. Within 24 hours, new outer skin layers develop, and the skin will have a bronze appearance that can last 3-14 days. Flaking may also occur as new skin replaces dead skin, which can be treated with a moisturizer.
During the healing phase and after, it is recommended to use a moisturising sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50+. Protective clothing should also be used to avoid sun exposure.
Four to five such fractional laser treatments are required, depending on the condition of skin to be treated, and the energy level used. Sessions are done one month apart. The results are slowly progressive, with obvious improvement visible over 3-4 months. The time frame involved, and treatment regimen, allows for complete healing and replacement of damaged tissue with healthy skin cell growth.
Side effects and complications of fractional laser treatment:
Fractional laser treatment is usually well tolerated by patients Potential side effects and complications that may occur include:
- Excessive scaling, peeling and some crusting
- Swelling for up to a week after treatment, which can be helped by applying ice pack at 10 minute intervals for the first 24 hours.
- Post inflammatory pigmentation (more common in patients of darker skin types)
- Acne type eruptions, herpes simplex, bacterial and candida infections