NATURE OF THE PROCEDURE
Just as a damaged painting is delicately restored one small area at a time, or a photographic image is altered, pixel by pixel, fractionated resurfacing improves your appearance by affecting only a fraction of your skin at a time with thousands of tiny microscopic laser impact spots.
The first was the traditional CO2 laser. The advantage of this laser was it fully covered the skin with thousands of laser impact sites, and while the superficial wrinkles are burned off, it does produce deeper heat which visible tightens the skin as the procedure proceeds. This stimulates collagen remodeling to support your skin and prevent further wrinkling. The disadvantages of the OLDER TRADITIONAL CO2 LASER are:
- Prolonged healing – At least two weeks of weeping and oozing with three or four months of sunburn type redness after that.
- Possible line of demarcation along the jawline where the procedure stopped and your normal skin remains.
- Increased chance of scarring.
- Increased chance of infection.
With the advent of the fractionated lasers, you can accomplish almost the same thing without many of the attendant risks. The first laser for this was the Fraxel re:store™. This is an erbium based laser that was soon followed by fractionated CO2 lasers like the Matrix. These lasers produce thousands of tiny but deep columns of treatment in your skin, known as microthermal treatment zones (MTZ). This treatment eliminates old epidermal pigmented cells by penetrating deep into the dermis. Just as important, however, are the areas of the skin that the Fraxel re:store™ laser and the Matrix CO2 leave untouched. For every microthermal zone the laser targets and treats intensively, it leaves the surrounding skin unaffected and intact. This fractionated treatment thus allows the skin to heal much faster than if the entire area were treated at once. Using the body’s natural healing process, these small columns of carefully damaged skin are now filled in by new cells that have migrated from the surrounding untouched skin.
These “holes” are filled up with new healthy and tighter tissue to replace previous imperfections. Because of this, there is less chance of abnormal pigmentation, infection, and scarring. The way Fraxel and Matrix work is the laser carefully targets approximately 20% of the skin surface and creates these microthermal treatment zones. The rest of the 80% is completely untouched and is able to quickly heal and fill in the 20% of your skin that was treated. With fractionated resurfacing, there is less down time than with the traditional CO2 laser resurfacing, and there is less chance for abnormal pigmentation whether lighter or darker. The disadvantage of the Fraxel re:store™ and the Matrix CO2 compared to traditional CO2 resurfacing is that one does not obtain quite as much deep thermal heating, so the overall tightening of the skin is less. The trade off, however, is less risk in every single way and quicker healing.