Too Busy For Makeup? Improve The Appearance of Blemishes, Discoloration And More with Fractional Skin Resurfacing


For some years now, celebrities have been crediting their ability to keep their skin radiant and healthy-looking sans makeup to fractional skin resurfacing. But what exactly is it, and what can it do for busy women who don’t always have the time to slap on foundation or concealer?

Jenna Dewan Tatum, Kim Kardashian, Chelsea Handler, and several other celebrities swear by it for flawless, Instagram-ready skin: fractional skin resurfacing. Albuquerque’s Western Dermatology Consultants explain how the treatment works, and why it has gained its cult following.

Fractional skin resurfacing is a newer form of laser skin resurfacing. Laser resurfacing is a non-surgical light-based treatment that can improve the appearance of several inter-related skin concerns that stem from cumulative sun damage, the aging process, and lifestyle factors (such as the use of tanning beds or lack of an effective skin care regimen). Such concerns include uneven texture, pigmentation issues, mild to moderate skin laxity, fine lines, and enlarged pores.

The laser device releases pulses of light energy that target the water and chromophores (color-producing atoms) in the skin. After the light pulses reach their targets, they are converted into heat energy to vaporize slim sections of dead skin surface cells, allowing newer, healthier cells to regenerate over the following weeks and months. The heat also helps kickstart the skin’s natural production of collagen, which helps keep the skin smooth, firm, and pliable.

Unfortunately, some patients’ skin could not tolerate older forms of laser skin resurfacing, with a possibility of scarring and skin thickening on the neck, chest, and hands. But fractional or fractionated skin resurfacing is a more precise, sophisticated form of laser resurfacing that targets near-microscopic rows of damaged skin, leaving little to no damage or undesirable side effects in the surrounding areas.

As the laser is passed across the skin, it emits pulses of light that each last a fraction of a second. The chromophores (i.e. the parts of a molecule that are responsible for its color) and water molecules present in the skin absorb this light energy, which is then converted to heat energy that systematically vaporizes thin layers or sections of skin, facilitating the shedding of dead surface skin cells.

Patients often describe the feeling as similar to the snapping of a rubber band on their skin (not an unfamiliar feeling to those who have experienced laser hair removal or intense pulsed light). For those concerned about discomfort, many laser technicians provide topical numbing and external fans or cooling devices as part of the treatment. The skin may also be wiped with water or a sterile saline solution in between passes to cool the skin and clear up any dead cells the laser may have vaporized.

The total number of passes per section can vary depending on the patient’s skin type and the depth of damage to be corrected. Fewer passes may be needed for thinner portions, such as the skin around the eyes. Conversely, thicker skin with scar tissue or lesions, may require more attention.

Once the fractional resurfacing treatment is complete, the areas are thoroughly cleaned up, and soothing topical products may be applied. An session for the face could last between 15 and 30 minutes.

Immediately after the treatment, skin can be warm, red, or slightly swollen. In the coming weeks, there may be some darkening, crusting, scabbing, or mild blistering as the rest of the dead surface cells fall off and the skin heals itself.

About three weeks after a session is when patients start to see noticeable improvements. Newly regenerated skin cells replace the old, damaged ones that were vaporized away with the laser and the formation of new collagen (neocollagenesis) occurs, allowing the skin to take on a thicker, clearer, and more youthful appearance.

To learn more about fractional skin resurfacing, request a consultation online or call Western Dermatology Consultants at 505-855-9267.