How Laser Skin Treatments Work

| May 30, 2023

Laser technologies have advanced substantially in the previous decade, allowing for a wide range of dermal concerns to be effectively targeted. From beginning to end, here is how the process unfolds. This includes what the consultation consists of, how the procedure works, and what to expect in terms of recovery and results.

It is important to note that SAI has invested in an FDA-approved Laser Suite  and that not all Aesthetic Clinics offer the same “laser”.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

Consultation: The first step in achieving Aesthetic Goals is a consultation with a qualified Aesthetic Doctor. This first meeting focuses on answering questions, assessments, and determining safety. Dr Clark begins with an examination of the skin to be treated, taking note of dermal characteristics such as pigmentation present, age, appearance, skin laxity, and areas of concern. Dr Clark will also request the Client’s medical history, including prescription medications, to determine if the treatment would be safe. From this vantage point, a conversation regarding suitability of procedure can happen. Risks and benefits are discussed. Expectations and recovery time is explored. Information is exchanged and questions are answered. Only after this analysis, can informed decisions be made regarding a course of action. If a choice is made to proceed the next step centres on preparation.

Preparation: Laser resurfacing treatment is a powerful treatment. In order to maximise sought after results and minimize risk, Dr Clark may recommend a specific pre-treatment protocol. If so, it is likely to include strict instructions about sun exposure and sun protection for the two to four weeks leading up to your appointment. Depending on individual circumstances, an antiviral (to prevent cold sores) and/or an antibiotic could be prescribed as a preventative measure. On occasion a topical retinoid cream or other specific homecare product may be advised. The Doctor you choose ought to be fully invested in your well-being, health, and safety and his recommendations will be an aid to these priorities. Therefore, follow guidelines precisely to be safe and maximise treatment benefits.

Treatment: Laser Resurfacing treatment can be completed with an ablative or non-ablative laser. The approach will be decided during the consultation phase of your journey so that on treatment day you know what to expect. All laser treatments take place in-clinic.

Ablative laser – This type of laser removes all the epidermis (upper skin) layer. Through intense heating up of water molecules within skin, existing surface skin cells are vaporized, elastin and collagen production are stimulated in deeper skin layers, and room for brand new skin cells is created. Ablative laser is an effective treatment for unwanted blemishes on the skin’s surface. These include signs of advanced visible ageing, ‘liver’ spots and certain birthmarks, scars of varying types, warts, and some skin conditions such as Sebaceous hyperplasia.

Ablative laser treatment is not suitable for every individual. When it is employed, it’s essential to note that the proficiency and skill of the laser practitioner is of importance. While wavelength depth is carefully set on the device, it must be further manually controlled by carefully avoiding overlap laser exposure within the treatment area. Only trust established, reputable, and experienced medical providers as poorly applied Ablative laser can result in dermal damage.

Ablative lasers are aggressive but offer an attractive option for individuals who are willing to invest preparation and recovery downtime for excellent aesthetic outcome. Ideal for those that desire a one-time-only, non-surgical, yet high impact treatment.

Non-ablative laser – This option is a much gentler alternative to ablative laser. As such it is accessible to a wider range of Clients. Non-ablative laser focuses solely on mild heating of the deeper dermal layer while leaving the epidermis completely intact. It does not strip the outer surface; the wavelengths are focussed to simply stimulating skin building blocks elastin and collage within deeper layers. As such it is appropriate for milder signs of ageing and can even be employed as a prejuvenation tool.

Complications are rare with non-ablative laser, but some redness and swelling may follow treatment. No downtime is needed, making it attractive option for many. Obtaining highest quality results usually involves commitment to more than one treatment.

Following through on a scheduled series of non-ablative laser therapies allows for impressive aesthetic outcomes. & our Monthly Specials Link Specials offer 10% discount on single sessions and 20% discount on a package series of treatments.

Customised to the Client: Many variables shape treatment customization. Foremost is Client’ comfort. The extent of the treatment objectives and Client preference will determine whether a topical numbing crème, local anaesthetic, or sedation is employed during treatment. Timing of treatment session ranges from around thirty minutes to more than an hour, depending on how much skin is being treated. Any effect of anaesthetic must diminish before a Client can resume normal activities. If sedation is used, it’s best to arrange for a supportive friend or family member to provide transport. Post-treatment protocol will be personally tailored.

Post-care: Taking care to protect and guard the area of treated skin is of critical import following Laser Skin Resurfacing. Avoiding sun exposure is imperative. Follow your Doctor’s instructions to the ‘t’ and if questions arise, don’t guess, ask directly. Only begin to reapply make-up with your Doctor’s ‘okay’.

Ablative laser treatments: These will necessitate two weeks of recovery where social interaction is kept to a minimum. Directly following the procedure, a specialized dressing will be applied directly to skin. Reapply as instructed. Skin is likely to swell, showcase redness, and may ooze. Hygiene and cleansing care must be rigorous. Be patient as your skin’s surface rebuilds itself.

Non-ablative laser treatments: These do not require downtime but swelling and redness may be present for several hours or a day or two (depending on treatment objectives and treatment intensity). Anti-inflammatories, Doctor-approved moisturisers, and cold treatment can be used almost immediately and will sooth skin.

Aesthetic Laser Results:  Significant aesthetic changes should be realized following either treatment. These include improved skin texture, more even tone, softer skin, reduction of scars, diminished wrinkles and fine lines, and firmer skin. As inflammation recedes results will become visible.

For Ablative laser treatment expect to wait until after peeling has stopped, about two weeks or so. Results will continue to improve from one month onward up to three months. This length of time is needed as collagen and skin structures simply need time to regenerate.

Non-ablative laser results also require patience. They may appear more subtle at first but trust the process. As the weeks pass, regeneration of the skin matrix is occurring, and the skin surface will noticeably improve. These will become increasingly evident after a few months and continue several months following your final treatment.

Results from an Ablative laser procedure can last for up to a decade and results from a non-ablative laser can easily last for five years or more making these powerful allies.

Experience the Best

Laser treatment should only be performed by professionals. Dr Clark is globally renown in the field of Aesthetic Medicine. His clinic in Sandton has a long-established record of producing enviable results for Clients.


Call SAI on 011 883 3116 / 060 718 2178,

Alternatively click here for SAI’s Contact Page

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