Fractional laser resurfacing, also known as fractional thermolysis, is a relatively new method of skin rejuvenation that was introduced in 2003. It works by tightening skin to improve various defects such as acne scars, wrinkles, sun damage, stretch marks and dark spots. The fractional resurfacing method works by treating only a fraction of the skin, leaving surrounding areas alone. The fractional laser delivers small, closely spaced micro beams of light energy through the epidermis into the dermis where collagen, elastic fibers and other supporting structures of the skin are located. These separated micro-beams cause heat damage to the tiny areas of dermis which, in turn, results in new collagen synthesis during healing and thus skin tightening. Since treated areas are surrounded by non heat damaged dermal tissue, skin heals much faster. Visible improvement is usually seen in about 2-3 months since this is the time it takes for collagen to be formed. The overall skin tightening and textural changes are often much greater than those changes induced by more superficial procedures.
Two to three fractional laser treatments are usually recommended for optimal results. The procedure itself takes 30 to 60 minutes depending on the area of the skin to be treated. Most people experience some discomfort during the procedure which is minimized by prior topical anesthetic application and cold packs immediately after treatment. Swelling and redness can be expected post treatment but usually resolve in one to two days.
There are very few therapeutic options for stretch marks however fractional therapy has shown remarkable improvement in most cases. Fractional laser resurfacing of facial skin has been shown to deliver in most cases, dramatic improvement in skin texture, tone and in minimizing of fine lines and wrinkles without the long recovery period of most ablative laser procedures.