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"If you have not travelled there before (South Africa), in most respects you will encounter, it is really a first world experience but with African flavour."

Marianne

Information by Dr Rick van der Poel
Edited for the website by Lorraine Melvill

Laser Resurfacing

For sun-damaged skin, wrinkles and acne scars. Laser resurfacing smooths out fine and moderate wrinkles around the eyes, mouth and cheeks using a carbon dioxide or erbium laser to remove the skin's top layers. It restores blemished and unevenly pigmented skin and also improves the appearance of sun-damaged and acne scarred skin.

The Aging of Skin

The skin consists of two layers of cells, the dermis and the epidermis. The normal dermis contains a matrix of collagen fibres. Collagen, the basic building block of skin, supplies structure and support to the skin in much the same way that steel girders do to a building.

The skin ages in two ways. Chronological aging is the normal aging process. Solar aging results from chronic exposure to sunlight and this is clinically characterised by multiple facial wrinkles, deep furrows, pigmentary alterations, benign and malignant growths as well as a thickened, leathery appearance. This appearance corresponds to changes in the structure of the epidermis and dermis.

Sun damage degrades collagen and the normally arranged elastic fibres of the dermis are replaced by abnormal solar 'elastotic' fibres. These abnormal 'elastotic' fibres do not have the elastic and resilient properties of normal skin. This results in the sagging, wrinkled and deeply furrowed skin characteristic of sun damaged skin.

Laser resurfacing improves wrinkled, sun damaged or acne scarred skin by stimulating a healing response. This results in increased amounts of collagen being deposited immediately below the surface layer of the new skin. The new collagen restores the skin to a state which more closely resembles undamaged, unscarred skin with a corresponding improvement in appearance.

Not all patients are suitable candidates for laser treatment. Fair-skinned patients generally do better than those with darker skin.

A full-face treatment usually takes one and a quarter hours.

Pre-Laser Care

Antibiotics and anti-virals are taken one day before the procedure and continued for four days after.

Post-Laser Care

On completion of the treatment, in some cases, a full face dressing is applied and worn for three days. The mask will absorb the 'ooze' emitted by the skin. More commonly Vaseline is applied to the face immediately after the procedure and then four times a day for the first six days. It is important to moisturise the skin and keep it from drying out and tightening.

The skin will be virtually healed by the seventh day. From day ten the pinkness of the skin can be concealed with green cosmetic base and normal make-up.

What to expect

Combination Procedures

It is possible to combine laser resurfacing with other procedures. Procedures which can be done simultaneously include liposuction to the chin, endoscopic brow lifts, partial face lifts and neck lifts.

Summary

Laser resurfacing is a relatively simple procedure for improving the texture of the skin and removing fine lines, wrinkles and acne scaring.

 

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