Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatments

Laser Resurfacing Treatment

Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing is the treatment we go to to improve skin quality. It is the gold standard option for treating fine lines and deep wrinkles. It also provides excellent improvement in uneven skin tone and pigmentation, and – depending on our protocol – we can also use it to shrink pores and improve acne scars. It is a very versatile treatment, and our clinic is home to some of the most sophisticated laser technology available to deliver the most innovative treatment plans.

McKeown Medical offers cutting-edge laser resurfacing treatments.

Dr. Darren McKeown

Medical Director

 

Our founder, Dr Darren McKeown, is renowned for his expertise in minimally invasive aesthetic medicine. As a peer-reviewed medical author, he is passionate about treatments that stand up to scientific scrutiny. His team at McKeown Medical have all been personally mentored in the unique McKeown Method.

How Do Laser Resurfacing Treatments Work?

Laser skin resurfacing works by removing the top layers of skin to remove damaged skin surface, allowing the skin to heal and creating newer, healthier, more youthful skin. Different types of laser resurfacing are available, and the best option for each patient depends on their skin condition, medical history, the degree of improvement they hope to achieve and the amount of downtime they will tolerate.

The first type of laser to be developed for skin resurfacing removed the entire skin surface. These are known as full-field ablative lasers because they ablate – or remove – the entire surface. These lasers are still the gold standard treatment for the most severely damaged skin with lines and wrinkles etched into the surface.

Many of the more recent types of laser resurfacing use something called ‘fractional ablation’. This means that instead of removing the entire skin surface, they only remove a fraction of it – leaving behind surrounding tissue that has not been injured. This means the skin is less wounded, so it recovers faster with less downtime and a lower risk of complications. It also means less dramatic results, so it is most suitable for more mild to moderate types of skin damage.

Now, we even have a few options for non-ablative laser treatments – where none of the skin’s surface is removed, which has even less or no downtime for patients.

 

Laser Resurfacing

What Results
Can I Expect?

Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing treatment can create dramatic improvements in skin quality. The skin problems improved by laser resurfacing treatment include:

The degree of improvement in each of these depends on the type of laser used and the settings prescribed and it is important that you discuss with your doctor exactly what problems you want to treat so that a treatment plan can be tailored to your specific needs.

Reasons To Consider Laser Resurfacing

Laser resurfacing improves many of our patients’ common complaints about their skin. When we use the most aggressive skin laser surgery, it can yield dramatic results from a one-off treatment that is permanent. With less aggressive treatment strategies, like fractional ablation, we can achieve improvements that can be increased with repeated treatments over time.

If your primary skin complaint is fine lines and wrinkles, the most effective treatment is full-field laser resurfacing. This removes the entire surface of the skin and, in many cases, can go deep enough to remove lines and wrinkles completely. Very occasionally, the depth of the wrinkles is such that the laser cannot safely go quite as deep as the wrinkle at the time of treatment. In many cases, however, as the healing process continues in the months after treatment, and the deeper collagen remodels, there is continued improvement in the skin and the lines get even finer or disappear completely as the healing process continues.

If your main issue is age spots, these can often be significantly reduced by non-ablative technology, like BroadBand Light. BBL is also excellent for removing different types of brown spots, as well as facial redness, such as from broken blood vessels of capillaries or rosacea, as well as pores and, over time, texture too. If you have more significant texture issues, like rough skin or fine lines, that you want to treat, then the HALO laser or full resurfacing will likely be required to improve your skin condition.

Sun damage causes many problems with the surface of the skin: lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, broken blood vessels, and elastosis (clumps of elastic material that form bumps on the surface of the skin). If the main problem you have is skin tone (ie discolouration), then non-ablative treatment with BroadBand Light (BBL) may be the most effective treatment. If the signs of sun damage are more extensive, then a more aggressive treatment like fractional or fully ablative laser may be the best option.

Acne scarring is usually a very deep-rooted problem in the skin, so to treat it to the best extent possible, it’s necessary to go down to the deeper layers of the skin. Since you can’t go that deep with fully ablative laser resurfacing, it is best to do this with a powerful fractional laser. We use the ProFractional device, which allows us to go down as far as 1500 microns – about 1.5mm deep.

Laser Resurfacing

Types Of Treatment

In the landscape of laser skin treatments, we highlight four key types. ProFractional Laser Treatment excels in treating deep-seated skin issues like acne scars, reaching up to 1500 microns deep. Fully Ablative Laser Resurfacing, the most intensive option, addresses severe sun damage or nicotine-affected skin by removing multiple skin layers. BroadBand Light (BBL) Laser Treatment, a versatile non-ablative option, offers minimal downtime and is ideal for sun damage, rosacea, and acne scars. Lastly, HALO Laser Treatment, a fractional laser, simultaneously targets the skin’s surface and deeper layers, suitable for moderate sun damage and fine lines. Each technology offers a unique approach to skin rejuvenation, catering to diverse skin concerns.

ProFractional Laser Treatment

ProFractional Laser Treatment is an extremely powerful laser that allows us to go down to 1500 microns in the skin. To put that in perspective, the facial skin is usually 1000 – 1500 microns in depth, so this laser allows us to get right to the bottom layers of the skin. If we went this deep with a full field approach, there would be nothing left to heal so it is only possible to get this deep into the skin using a fractional approach, because it leaves behind enough surrounding tissue to heal the wound. This is especially useful when we want to treat conditions that are based in the deeper layers of the skin, like scarring – especially acne scars. Depending on the type of scars present, one to three sessions may be recommended for best results. The ProFractional device uses an erbium yag laser to achieve these results.

Fully ablative laser resurfacing

This is the most aggressive skin laser surgery we perform, which we typically use for full face treatment on patients who have a strong history of sun exposure or nicotine consumption and the most severely damaged skin. It’s an invasive procedure that removes the entire surface of the skin, down through several skin layers, until the wrinkles have been completely removed. It is the gold standard option when we want to treat deep wrinkles that have become etched into the skin. Because it is such an aggressive laser, however, it can only be used on facial skin, which has better healing capacity than skin on other parts of the body.

Two different types of laser can perform ablative resurfacing: the carbon dioxide laser and the erbium YAG laser. Both of them work by vaporising water content in the skin, which causes the skin to vaporise. The erbium yag, however, is more specific at targeting water than carbon dioxide, which means that it causes less collateral damage, which in turn means that the laser is more precisely controlled and is regarded by many laser surgeons worldwide as the gold standard for laser skin resurfacing and it is our choice of laser in our clinic.

BroadBand Light (BBL) Laser Treatment

Broadband Light is one of the most exciting types of laser skin rejuvenation. It is a non-ablative device, meaning it doesn’t remove any tissue, so it has much less downtime than other types of laser skin rejuvenation: most of our patients resume normal activities immediately following treatment. It is ideal for treating patients with

Sun damaged skin

Pigmentation or age spots

Broken blood vessels

Facial redness like rosacea

Active acne, as well as any

Red spots left behind by acne scarring

Enlarged pores

Skin laxity

BBL is the one treatment that most of our patients who are concerned about the ageing process would benefit from because it is so versatile. You may have heard of a treatment called Intense pulsed light (IPL). BBL is like the big-sister version of IPL. BBL has more filters that can be changed and more settings that can be adapted so that the treatment can be customised better to the individual needs of each patient. It’s also a great treatment for maintaining the results of more aggressive laser skin resurfacing treatment plans so if you had some ablative skin rejuvenation and want to maintain the results of that – it’s great to do a maintenance session of BBL a couple of times per year.

HALO Laser Treatment

The HALO laser is one of the most advanced technologies for fractional laser resurfacing. As opposed to fully ablative lasers, which remove the entire surface of the skin, fractional lasers remove only a portion of the skin’s surface. The unique thing that makes the HALO so special and stands out from other fractional lasers is its ablative and non-ablative components that fire simultaneously. This means that the device can remove a fraction of the skin’s surface whilst also targeting the deeper layers of your skin at the same time to increase collagen production and maximise results.

The HALO laser is ideal for patients with more moderate sun damage and minor fine lines and wrinkles or for patients with severe skin damage but who don’t want to accept the downtime of full-field resurfacing and are prepared to accept a more modest result. Typically, the HALO laser is a one-off procedure, although you may be recommended a course of treatment if you have more severe skin damage. The downtime varies according to the settings used. We typically use more aggressive settings to get the best results, which means our patients can expect around 5-7 days of downtime with redness and swelling. When we use the Halo laser, we almost always combine it with the BroadBand Light device to enhance and later to maintain the results.

We can also use the HALO laser to treat acne scars, depending on the type of acne scarring.

Non-surgical Solutions: Laser Treatments

Read on for answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions

 

Preparing For Laser Resurfacing - Step-By-Step Process

Your first consultation begins with a review of your medical history. Your doctor will want to know about any illnesses you suffer, including any dermatological conditions you have. In addition, we need to know about any medications you take and any allergies you have. We will also ask a bit about your lifestyle because, inevitably, our environment impacts the physical health of the skin. We will also ask about your mental health, so we can understand how any mental health conditions you have may impact how you feel about your skin. Ultimately, we want to know as much about you as possible to create a treatment plan that will most likely meet your needs and expectations.

Laser Resurfacing
Laser Resurfacing

Next, we need to examine your skin’s physical characteristics. Your skin type. The presence of absence of sun damage. The presence or absence of nicotine damage. The pigmentation marks on your skin. Any blood vessel abnormalities. Skin laxity.

Laser Resurfacing

Often, to achieve the best result that meets your expectations, it is necessary to combine multiple procedures. For example, whilst laser resurfacing is excellent for improving fine lines and deep wrinkles, it does not remove deep folds of skin – typically the result of volume loss and usually needs some filler injections. Likewise, laser resurfacing will also create a little bit of skin tightening however, if you have a lot of skin laxity, then it is likely that you would also need either fillers or surgery to address that in addition to laser resurfacing. Ultimately, our goal is to truly understand your needs and expectations to create a bespoke treatment plan that gets you as close as possible to your objective.

Laser Resurfacing
Laser Resurfacing

What To Expect:

Embarking on a laser resurfacing journey involves key steps: pre-procedure care includes avoiding retinoids and harsh skincare, alongside a makeup-free consultation for a personalised plan. During the procedure, anesthesia is applied based on treatment intensity, ensuring comfort without severe pain. Post-procedure, expect varying degrees of redness and swelling, with recovery times ranging from a few days to six months, depending on the treatment type. Fractional treatments like Halo ensure a swifter healing process.

You should not have any laser treatments if you have taken oral retinoids (Roaccutane) within the last six months. Before your laser resurfacing treatments, you should typically discontinue the use of harsh skincare ingredients, such as retinoids or alpha hydro acids, a couple of weeks before treatment. When you come to your consultation appointment, you should wear no make-up so we can truly assess the condition of your skin and come up with a bespoke treatment plan that is tailored to your skin’s needs.

Before the resurfacing procedure, we begin by cleansing the skin and achieving anaesthesia (i.e. making the skin numb). How we do this depends on the type and depth of resurfacing that you are having. If you are having fully ablative resurfacing, then this will involve injecting some numbing medicine, similar to what you get at the dentist. If you have a less aggressive laser resurfacing treatment, then a topical numbing cream will probably be sufficient.

If you are having resurfacing performed on your eyelid skin, we will also need to insert some mental contact lenses to protect your eye from the laser. When everything is prepared, we then perform the laser resurfacing by passing the laser beam over the skin and watching how the skin responds, adjusting the settings as we go according to how your skin is responding. You should not experience true pain during the procedure, although it is common to feel a build-up of heat in the tissues, which can feel like a bad sunburn. This typically builds up as the procedure progresses, although most patients tolerate it well.

After the laser resurfacing treatment, your skin will be red and swollen. The extent of this varies depending on how aggressive the procedure is. With fully ablative laser resurfacing treatments, the entire face is raw and will be covered in an occlusive ointment (like Vaseline or Aqauphor). The skin usually ooze serous fluid (yellow material) and a little blood. This is normal, and in the first 24 hours, you need to regularly dab this to stop it from forming into scabs. Typically, the sunburn feeling subsides in the first 24 hours, and after that, most patients don’t experience too much discomfort.

The skin initially looks raw when the patient leaves after the laser resurfacing procedure, but the next day looks worse as the swelling kicks in and that typically gets worse over the first few days before starting to get better. During this time, it is common for patients to feel anxious or even regret having undergone the procedure. By day 5 to day 7 usually, the swelling starts to come down, and you can see some of the new skin growing through, which is when most patients start to feel better. During the second week of recovery, the skin typically heals, although the face remains red and swollen. Usually, by day 10-14, patients can start to resume normal activities, albeit with the help of some makeup to camouflage the remaining signs of redness.

Although most of the redness normally subsides in the second week following treatment, it is normal for some residual pinkness to persist for up to six months after the treatment. The residual pinkness represents ongoing inflammation – and healing – in the deeper layers of the skin, which means that the skin will continue to experience more improvements as the months pass by. Typically by around six months is when you can assess the final outcome of the procedure, although most patients are very happy with the initial results after just a couple of weeks.

With fractional laser resurfacing treatments like the Halo laser or ProFractional ‘sunburnt’ feeling usually subsides much faster – often within the first hour after treatment.

Recovery From
Your Treatment

The recovery from laser resurfacing will depend on exactly which type of laser you’ve had and the settings used. For full field laser resurfacing, you should expect an initial downtime of two weeks. Within the first two weeks, the new skin will grow back, and the initial redness and swelling will be considerably improved. After two weeks, your skin will still have some mild redness or pinkness that can persist for up to six months, during which period the skin is still healing, and the results will continue to improve. After two weeks, however, you can usually get back to normal activities with the help of a little make-up.

With fractional laser resurfacing treatments, you will usually be healed within 5-7 days. However, the deeper collagen growth and remodelling process takes several months to evolve, and you will continue to see the results improve over this period.

Laser Resurfacing
Laser Resurfacing

How Do I take care of my skin after laser skin resurfacing?

Following laser resurfacing treatment, you must follow your doctors’ wound care instructions. When the outer layer of your skin has been removed, you essentially have an open wound on your face, and it is critical that you take care of it properly to prevent bugs from getting in and causing an infection.

When the outer layer of your skin surface has been removed, the barrier function of your skin is compromised, meaning bugs and bacteria from our environment are free to enter your skin. The application of an occlusive ointment – such as Aquaphor or Vaseline – helps to provide an alternative barrier whilst your skin heals, so it is important that you apply this regularly throughout the day. It also serves an essential function in keeping your skin hydrated, so you should be conscious of any areas becoming dry throughout the day and add more ointment as required.

Most patients don’t experience too much pain following laser resurfacing procedures. Most patients describe it as feeling like a bad sunburn, which typically resolves in the first 24 hours after treatment. If you are having a fractional laser resurfacing procedure, like a HALO laser, the discomfort typically subsides in the first hour after the procedure. For the more aggressive resurfacing procedures, we suggest using an ice pack for the first 72 hours to help reduce swelling. If patients require pain medication, simple paracetamol is usually enough. It is rare for us to need to prescribe anything stronger than this.

If you have had a fractional laser resurfacing, we typically do not use any oral medication following treatment. With fully ablative laser resurfacing, however, we typically prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic and an anti-viral medication. If you have a strong history of cold sores, we will usually begin the anti-viral medicines the day before your treatment.

The healing process will depend on the exact treatment protocol you are prescribed. Most patients can expect to be back to normal activities within 5-7 days following a HALO laser, about 7-10 days following a ProFractional procedure and 10-14 days following full laser skin resurfacing. After the initial healing period, there will then be a further period of healing as the deeper collagen remodels and so the results continue to improve for 3-6 months after treatment.

Laser Resurfacing

Choose McKeown Medical For Expert Care

At McKeown Medical we have a comprehensive suite of laser technology so that we can tailor a bespoke laser resurfacing treatment plan for your needs. Our doctors are passionate about delivering effective results that are tailored to your own circumstances. For some patients, this will be the most gentle treatment for subtle improvements, while others are happy to accept more downtime and inconvenience in exchange for more dramatic improvements in their skin quality. Our goal is to understand you and your needs so that we develop a plan that gets you from where you are to where you want to be.

Laser Resurfacing Treatments performed by

THE DOCTORS

Dr Nina Singh

Dr Nina Singh

Aesthetic Doctor

 

Dr Nina Singh is a skilled aesthetic doctor who joined the practice in 2023, after undergoing a year of immersive training in the McKeown Method. She is passionate about good skin at any age and combining techniques to achieve the most natural and effective results for our patients. She also has a specialist interest in treating skin of colour.

Dr Rhona Cameron​

Aesthetic Doctor

 

Dr Rhona Cameron is a skilled injector who has been extensively trained in Dr McKeown’s signature intuitive technique. Her treatments blend advanced facial optimisation with powerful, energy-based devices – such as lasers, BBL and radio frequency – energising the appearance and enhancing skin health.

Laser Resurfacing

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
LASER RESURFACING

Let’s answer some of your most frequently asked questions about laser resurfacing.

If you want to improve the quality of your skin but don’t want the downtime that comes with laser resurfacing, you can achieve significant improvements in skin quality by using non-ablative treatment, like Broad Band Light (BBL). BBL is an excellent all-round skin rejuvenation treatment that improves many of the common signs of skin ageing, without the downtime of ablative laser resurfacing. In contrast to ablative lasers, non ablative lasers do not remove any of the skin surface so they usually do not have any downtime. You can read more about non-ablative laser treatment on this page of our site.

When you have undergone laser resurfacing, the skin will always be in better condition than if you hadn’t had the procedure – so in that sense, yes, the results are permanent. It is vital, however, that you continue to protect your skin from the sun to stop the sun damage from coming back. If you have fully ablative treatment like the Contour TRL laser resurfacing, then it is usually a once-in-a-lifetime procedure. If you have treatment with fractional ablative lasers like the Halo laser, most patients choose to repeat the treatment over time to maintain the results.

When you have laser resurfacing with fully ablative lasers like the Contour TRL, there is usually some discomfort during the procedure. Most patients describe it as feeling like a bad sunburn. Typically, this lasts for up to 24 hours. After that, most patients find the process physically painless – although it can be emotionally traumatic watching your skin go through the initial stages of the healing process. It’s important that you keep that in mind and prepare for that before you go ahead with treatment.

The cost of ablative laser resurfacing depends on what your skin needs to achieve your goals. Fractional resurfacing with the Halo laser costs from £1200 for one session or £2000 for a course of two sessions. Fully ablative resurfacing to one area, for example, around the mouth, costs from £3500, whilst a full face treatment costs from £5000.

Laser skin resurfacing, including procedures like laser facial resurfacing, is a popular technique to treat wrinkles, fine lines, and other superficial skin concerns. However, it comes with an inevitable recovery period. Initially, the treated skin will be raw and may ooze as it heals. The extent of this depends on the treatment area and the depth of the laser application. When the skin heals initially, it will be red. For instance, if you’ve had a fractional treatment like Halo laser, the redness usually subsides within a week. However, if it is a fully ablative treatment, it can take up to six months for the last remnants of redness to subside.

The biggest concern following resurfacing is the possibility of infection. Developing an infection can result in permanent scarring, which is the most feared complication of laser resurfacing. This makes it essential to carefully follow your wound care instructions after your treatment. You should take any medications as prescribed and attend your follow-up appointments to check on the recovery of the treated and surrounding skin.

Laser resurfacing, a targeted laser procedure, can improve the appearance of acne scars but cannot remove them altogether. This technique is particularly effective for atrophic acne scars, often accompanied by sagging skin. Careful consideration is needed for individuals with darker skin tones due to the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In such cases, the procedure must be meticulously tailored to prevent further skin discolouration. For deeper ice pick scars, punch excision is a more suitable option, although it may leave a small white scar.

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touch

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Laser Resurfacing

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SOME PATIENT JOURNEYS

Justine, aged 31

Tear Trough Fillers

The tear trough is the groove that runs between the lower eyelid and the cheek, contributing to dark hollows below the eyes. This can be improved with precise volume restoration. Hear how this treatment turned out for our patient Justine.
Catherine, aged 50

Treatment of Lines Around the Lips with Injectables

Lines around the lips are one of the most common complaints that women come to us with. These can be treated permanently with aggressive resurfacing, although a much less invasive option is to simply restore some volume around the area. Hear how Catherine got on with filler injections around the mouth.
Michelle, aged 35

Treatment of Deep Frown Lines

When the frown muscles are strong, and frown lines well established, sometimes we need to employ a combination approach to achieve the best result. Hear how this worked out for Michelle. 
Lorraine, aged 50

Treatment of Jowls with Dermal Filler

The jowls are one of the most commonly complains about parts of the face. For patients who do not wish to undergo surgery, fillers in the cheek, chin and jawline and offer an effective non-surgical solution. Listen to how this approach worked for Lorraine.
Lisa, aged 45

Combination Treatment of Advanced Crow's Feet

Sometimes when the crows feet get stronger, simply relaxing the muscle around the eye is not enough and we need to do combination treatments to achieve the best result. Listen to how this turned out for our patient Lisa.
Marie, aged 46

Treatment of Downturned Mouth Corners

Downturned mouth corners can make us look sad, even when we feel happy inside. Hear how treatment with filler injections corrected this problem for our patient. 
Claire-Louise, aged 28

Augmentation of the Chin

Deficiency of the chin and jawline is a common problem that leads to facial disharmony and can lead to early jowl formation. Hear how correcting the chin improved our patients profile, and her self confidence. 
Deana, aged 57

Treatment of Eye Bags and Jowls with Injectables

Bags under the eyes and jowls along the jawline are some of the most common concerns patients have as they age. For patients who do not wish to have surgery, these can be significantly improved by restoring volume to the facial anatomy. Hear how this treatment approach worked out for Deana.
Jennifer, aged 27

Nose & Chin Contouring

A prominent nose can be one of the most distressing features for some people. Often, the problem is exacerbated by a weak or recessed chin and contouring the nose and chin with filler injections can help to re-balance to profile, achieving facial harmony. Hear how this treatment turned out for Jennifer, and the impact it had on her life.
Grant, aged 32

Male Wrinkle Reduction

Most people – men and women – begin to notice wrinkles appearing in the upper face in their early to mid 30s. This is the optimal time to start considering aesthetic dermatology to reduce the wrinkles and prevent them getting worse as the years progress. Listen to how the treatment turned out for Grant.
Tony, aged 38

Male Facial Volume Restoration

Tony had lost of a lot of weight, and the effects were showing on his face. As we age, we all lose volume from our face but in Tony’s case it was accelerated by significant weight loss. Listen to how treatment with facial fillers restored Tony’s facial volume, and his self confidence.