Laser Resurfacing – The Complete Guide

Dec 17, 2012

guide to laser peels Type of Laser Peel

Laser resurfacing is a phenomenal tool to smooth fine lines and prevent the signs of aging. In previous posts, I’ve touted the benefits of the microlaser peel.  But if you’ve spent any time reading up on laser peels, you’ve likely heard of either Fraxel or profractional laser peels as well.  They’re essentially the same thing, but Fraxel uses a CO2 laser, and Pro-Fractional uses an Erbium laser.  The lasers themselves behave similarly.  What sets the Pro-Fractional apart from a traditional microlaser peel is the way the skin is removed.

Types of laser resurfacing

A microlaser peel removes a thin layer of skin (the epidermis).  This smooths fine lines and helps skin look smoother and more even. The diagram below shows the skin in cross-section. The portion in blue shows what part of the skin a microlaser peel affects.

laser resurfacing


The profractional peel  works a bit differently.  Instead of removing 100% of the outer layer of skin as a Micropeel does, a Profractional removes only portions of the skin in a pixellated pattern. The diagram below shows you what each type of peel looks like over the skin surface.

laser resurfacing


Microlaser peels heal quickly because only a superficial layer of skin is removed.  Profractional peels remove a deeper layer of skin (check out the last image, below), but because there is healthy skin in between the areas hit by the laser, the recovery time is about the same as a micropeel.

laser resurfacing

When you look at the diagram, you’ll see that the profractional peel reaches all the way down into the dermis, which is the deep layer of the skin.  Those squiggly gray lines you see are collagen, the protein that gives skin elasticity.  When the laser damages the collagen, the skin responds by growing more collagen to heal the wound. This results in a tightening, smoothing effect that you don’t get with a regular micropeel.  What patients actually see is an improvement in wrinkles (deeper wrinkles than those treated with a traditional micropeel).  The profractional peel can smooth out scars as well.  And when we combine a micropeel with a profractional peel, the results are even better! If you would like to see some before and after pics, check out the Sciton website.

Do you have any questions regarding ProFractional?