Laser techonology has gone through leaps and bounds in the past two decades, and you really have to wonder if the laser is so great, why is there need for constant improvement? It basically boils down to maximizing the improvement and minimizing the complications and down-time. You can basically categorize the lasers in to “ablative” and “non-ablative”.
Simply put, any laser which “ablates” or peels a layer of your skin means a longer recovery period whereas “non-ablative” offers almost no down-time. So by definition, a laser peel procedure means that the doctor is using an ablative laser to peel a layer of your skin. And the first generation Super-Pulse CO2 laser did exactly that; it also provided coagulation (controlled thermal damage) which provided a nice tightening of the skin (up to 20% of a conventional face-lift surgery). The over-all effect was significant rejuvenation of wrinkled, sun-damaged skin with significant tightening. The down-side was prolonged inflammation and redness (mainly caused by the thermal damage) leading to pigmentary changes which can lasts weeks to months in some cases. The next laser in line was Erbium/Yag laser ablation laser which did a nice job in peeling away the skin. This laser has no coagulation effect, which means no thermal damage, but also very little improvement in the ways of tightening the skin.
The healing process was quicker with less inflammation but redness and pigmentary changes can still occur. Our office uses the most advanced version of the CONTOUR Erbium/Yag laser from Sciton which through a computer module mimics the coagulation component so the benefit of peeling a layer of the wrinkled/sun-damaged skin can be seen as well as the added benefit of coagulation without the same degree of redness and pigmentary changes as would be seen in CO2 systems. In addition the “smart computer” allows absolute depth control, allowing as superficial as 10 micron to be ablated (Micro-laser peel, making it truly a weekend peel with down time of only 3 to 4 days before make-up can be worn) to as deep as 100 micron (Traditional laser peel).