The fractional laser is the most commonly used instrument in clinical aesthetic medicine. In addition to treating burn scars and trauma scars, it is also very effective for blemish removal and facial rejuvenation. However, many patients do not have a clear understanding and appreciation of this. Therefore, here is an introduction to fractional laser and co2 laser resurfacing.
What is the fractional laser?
Fractional laser technology is actually a technical improvement on invasive lasers and is a minimally invasive treatment between invasive and non-invasive. Compared to invasive lasers, the energy is weaker and the damage is relatively minor.
The principle is that the fractional laser produces a tiny beam of light that acts on the skin to create multiple tiny thermal damage zones. The skin initiates a self-repair mechanism due to damage and stimulates collagen regeneration, thus achieving the effect of blemish removal and facial rejuvenation.
The fractional laser, due to its special image generator (CPG) laser, can change the light emission pattern. So it can emit a focal spot of 50μm-80μm through a highly focused mirror. And these focal spots will scan up to 6 kinds of rectangular shapes (circle, square, rectangle, diamond, triangle, line) of tiny beams.
It acts on the skin and is absorbed by water in the tissues, forming tiny thermal damage zones of different shapes and causing a series of skin biochemical reactions. Therefore, the factional laser can be applied to different areas and different skin types, thus achieving different treatment results.
Types of fractional laser:
In terms of treatment modalities, there are three types of fractional lasers: ablative, non-ablative, and micro ablative.
- Ablative fractional laser: vaporization and ablation type with vaporization zone, mainly CO2 laser (wavelength 10600 nm) and Er: YAG laser (wavelength 2940nm).
- Non-ablative fractional laser: non-vaporizing, non-ablative type with micro thermal damage zone and no vaporization zone. The main wavelengths are 1320nm, 1440nm, and the latest 694nm fractional laser.
- Micro-exfoliative fractional laser: the stratum corneum is intact and there is a cavitation zone in the epidermis below it, mainly fractional erbium glass laser (wavelength 1540 nm or 1550 nm).
All three are invasive lasers. Usually, a course of treatment requires 3-5 sessions and the effect lasts for 6-12 months. After a course of treatment, a single additional treatment can be done every 3-6 months. In clinical practice, each patient’s specific skin condition is different, and the period and course of treatment will vary.
Clinically used fractional lasers:
There are three main types of fractional lasers commonly used in clinical practice: CO2 ultra-pulsed fractional laser, 2940nm fractional laser, and 1550/1540nm fractional laser.
All three types of fractional lasers act clinically on the principle of water absorption, but different wavelengths have different characteristics for water absorption in the tissue. Each of the three wavelengths has its own clinical indications, and there is no substitute for each other. The doctor must have an accurate judgment of the disease in order to choose a reasonable treatment plan.
CO2 ultra-pulsed fractional laser absorbs water in a growing nail type. It acts on the dermis, penetrates deeper, carbonizes and vaporizes tissues faster, and is mainly used for more severe skin aging.
Treatment is painful and usually requires topical anesthetic medication. However, there are some people who do not need to apply anesthetic, as each person’s tolerance varies.
Normally, the treatment time of a CO2 laser is about 10 min and does not require repeated irradiation. However, each person’s skin condition is somewhat different. Therefore, adjustments will be made by the physician based on experience and changes in the skin during the treatment.
After the treatment, there will be skin tissue fluid oozing, which needs to be bandaged. The scabs will come off in about 5-7 days, and the treatment interval takes 2 months. It can treat moles, warts, age spots, scars, sweat duct tumors, large pores, etc.
2940nm fractional laser
The 2940 nm laser absorbs water in an umbrella shape with a very high absorption rate, but the penetration is not deep enough. The laser acts on the superficial dermis and is absorbed by a large amount of moisture on the skin’s surface. Therefore, the 2940 nm laser is generally made with a particularly high energy of 3000mj or more, otherwise, it is difficult to penetrate the epidermal layer.
Mild to moderate pain and discomfort during the treatment, all within the tolerable range. Mild flushing and swelling may occur after a few minutes of treatment, and the discomfort will be reduced by applying ice. Generally, the interval between treatments is about 1 month. It can treat wrinkles, enlarged pores, dull complexion, superficial acne scars, and skin whitening.
1550nm fractional laser
The 1550nm laser absorbs water in an inverted cone pattern and can act on the dermis, the superficial layer. The peak absorption of water is also high, and its penetration depth is deeper than the 2940 nm wavelength, which can quickly reach the dermis. Vaporization is much less effective than CO2 laser excitation and is generally used for mild skin aging.
The treatment has a slightly painful sensation like needle sticks, which is generally tolerable. For patients with poorer tolerance, topical anesthetic drugs may be applied. Comparatively speaking, the treatment time of a 1550nm laser is longer, usually around 20 min. Because it is inherently shallow treatment, multiple irradiations of key treatment areas are required to achieve good results.
After the treatment, no bandage is needed and the scabs come off in about 5 days. After an interval of 1 month, you can do a second treatment. It can treat scars, wrinkles, enlarged pores, skin tightening, stretch marks, chloasma, etc.
In conclusion, the fractional laser has a wide range of applications, which are summarized as follows:
- Facial rejuvenation: wrinkles, pores, photoaging, etc
- Depressed and hyperplastic scars: post-acne depressed scars, various post-trauma scars
- Pigmented lesions: chloasma, age spots, hyperpigmentation, etc.
- Stretch marks or swelling lines
Fractional lasers are the focus of BESTVIEW’s research. BESTVIEW is a professional supplier and manufacturer of medical and aesthetic laser equipment. Not only co2 fractional laser but 2940nm laser and 1550nm laser, BESTVIEW all can provide good quality devices and technical support.