The last two decades saw a rapid development of laser resurfacing technologies to treat fine lines, get rid of wrinkles, and address aging skin, with the Erbium laser resurfacing becoming a viable alternative to more traditional skin ablation methods. The biggest problems with laser skin care are that it often causes significant damage to the skin and requires downtime after the procedure to recover. Hence, the aesthetics devices industry has invested significant resources to develop less intensive solutions. For example, the Erbium Laser is a less aggressive counterpart to the more traditional CO2 laser because it creates a beam more easily absorbed by water, which is abundantly present in the human body. Its efficacy is comparable to CO2 devices, but Erbium laser resurfacing causes less damage and can be used with more precision by physicians. These devices are known for minimal burning of surrounding tissue as well as less severe and fewer side effects, and faster healing times. This makes the Erbium ablative laser resurfacing a better choice for patients with darker skin tones, who may experience discoloration with a CO2 laser.
How the Erbium Laser Works
The idea behind the Erbium laser is straightforward; damage skin in a careful manner to stimulate the body’s natural regenerative processes. This is the same approach as most other laser skin resurfacing treatments take, but big differences appear when you focus on the details. For example, unlike an Erbium laser, the CO2 laser removes dead skin cells through a thermo-mechanical reaction. Here, the CO2 machine overloads skin cells with energy, causing them to vaporize. However, in this reaction, significant amounts of heat dissipate into surrounding skin tissue, causing additional damage that gives little benefit to the patient.
The Erbium laser works in a similar manner, except that it is photomechanical in nature, meaning that when targeted cells are destroyed, significantly less heat dissipates into surrounding tissues. Less errant heat means less damage to the face, hands, neck, or any other areas being treated. Furthermore, the Erbium laser delivers energy in pulsating bursts, as opposed to earlier CO2 models, which treated skin with a continuous beam, which causes even more damage. This makes the Erbium laser a more conservative treatment option which can shorten down time.
What the Erbium Laser Treats
The Erbium laser is designed to treat a variety of skin issues, in the same way a chemical peel would. The laser resurfacing action of this device eliminates damaged cells on the surface of the skin, allowing new skin to form in its place. Therefore, problems like pigmentation issues, acne scars, wrinkles, and liver spots can all be gradually diminished with several treatments.
However, this device is less effective for natural skin tightening because it does not stimulate collagen growth, and focuses strictly on treating the epidermis, and not the deeper layers of the skin. Alternative treatments like fractional laser skin resurfacing, ultra sound therapy, and radiofrequency options are likely to work better than the Erbium laser for collagen stimulation purposes, because they penetrate deeper and heat up the dermis without damaging the upper-most layers of the skin.
It is also difficult to treat deep wrinkles with an Erbium laser because it does not remove tissue aggressively enough in such instances. Not that the laser wouldn’t necessarily work for severe facial lines, but more treatments would be required, and results would not present themselves as quickly. However, newer versions of this technology may soon provide more effective for such problems by increasing the power bursts and the depth of the penetration into the skin, although the long term effectiveness of such treatments remains to be seen.
Erbium Laser Side Effects
Treatment with an Erbium laser is considered to be less intense than a CO2 laser, but a number of side effects and the need for recovery time still persist. It is not uncommon for individuals to experience inflammation in the treatment area and highly sensitive skin for several days. In addition, anyone dealing with infection at the treatment site should avoid the procedure, or any other laser resurfacing treatment, because the micro damage creates a risk of further infection. If you are dealing with inflammation (which is often a sign of infection) the Erbium laser treatment is likely a bad idea in such cases as well.