The Erbium laser is another proven technique used to “resurface” the skin. Time and the sun cause aging and photo-aging of the skin. The skin looses its vibrant appearance and becomes dull. Brown spots, both age spots and sunspots appear. Fine lines develop, and eventually progress into deeper lines. Smoking decreases the oxygen flow to the skin and facilitates this process. For years, people have looked to rejuvenate their skin and bring back its youthful appearance. In the past this has successfully been done with chemical peels, dermabrasion, and then with the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser. Now, the erbium laser offers a significant advantage in treatment.
Lasers have been used in the treatment of various skin conditions for the past several decades. This intense beam of light vaporizes thin controlled layers of skin to create a smoother and more youthful appearance. The surgeon can fine tune and individualize treatment for each patient to address each area of the face separately to create the optimal outcome. Recent innovations have allowed doctors to be able to vaporize thinner and thinner layers of tissue. The Erbium removes the thinnest layer of tissue possible. Also, minimal heat is generated, so the skin stays pink only for a short period of time.
The Erbium laser removes a thinner layer of tissue than the carbon dioxide laser and also causes less heat, or thermal damage. This allows for a much speedier recovery. The patient can return to wearing make-up in less than one week and the skin will remain pink only for one to three weeks. Thus, the overall recovery period is much shorter. This laser can also be used to treat the skin on the chest and hands to remove the brown spots and sun damage there. Due to the decrease in the heat produced, darker skin types can also be treated more safely. Lastly, the Erbium can be done under purely local anesthesia. The skin is treated with a cream called EMLA to numb the area. No intravenous sedation or injections are needed. However if the patient prefers this, it can be done with some mild anesthesia.
Treatment with the Erbium laser focuses on removing lines on the face, superficial acne scars and irregular pigmentation. Lines around the mouth, eyes and forehead can be treated. Depending on the type and severity of the lines, botox and/or collagen or fat injections in addition to your laser surgery may give you the optimal result. Acne and surgical scars can also achieve significant improvement with erbium laser resurfacing. Deep lines and severe scarring may be better treated with the carbon dioxide laser. We will discuss your individual face and determine which treatment is best for you and your lifestyle.
Pre-treatment with both topical and oral medications is necessary. Strict avoidance of the sun is essential to help prevent hyper pigmentation. A test site may be performed to assess an individual’s reaction prior to treating an entire area. After treatment there will be redness, oozing and swelling for 2-5 days. Pain medication will be provided if necessary. Meticulous wound care will need to be followed. Make-up can usually be applied 3-6 days after treatment. Healing is approximately 1 week, but persistent redness may be seen for a few weeks after the treatment. When treating the chest and hands, the skin tends to stay pink for a longer period, occasionally up to several months. Detailed instructions on pre-operative and post-operative care are attached.
As with any procedure, risks are associated with this procedure. They are however, very infrequent. These include, but are not limited to, infection, pigmentation changes, prolonged redness and scarring. Although the skin condition will improve with treatment, a subsequent touch-up may be necessary, particularly with deeper lesions.