ablative laser non-ablative laser

Ablative vs Non Ablative Laser for Age Spots or Sun Spots

Categories : Aesthetics

There are different types of pigmentation, age spots or sun spots occurs when the skin is exposed to the sun and the over production of melanin deposit on the upper layers of the skin.  As skin ages or matures, the outer layer of the skin gets thinner. UV rays will further damage the inner layers of the skin and causes less elasticity and collagen, thus signs of aging will show in terms of age spots and wrinkles.

There are different ways of protecting the skin and removing age spots.  Lasers are one possible solution. 

What is the difference between Ablative lasers and Non Ablative lasers?

Broadly speaking, ablative lasers remove the top layer of the damaged skin, it also encourages collagen production to heal the skin.  It deals mainly in the epidermis layer.  Ablative lasers could be used on a specific patch of the skin.

Non-ablative lasers work on the epidermis layer. It is considered as non-invasive as it leaves the outer layer /epidermis layer alone.  It produces heat in the dermis layer of the skin to encourage the production of collagen.  The non ablative laser treatment covers the whole face.  Using the ablative lasers could target a specific spot; the non ablative lasers could be used to deal with issues relating to sign of aging skin e.g. wrinkles, age spots, loss of skin elasticity and firming.

What is downtime?  What is the difference between downtime for ablative laser and non ablative laser?

Usually for the first treatment, the doctor or the technician will warn you about the downtime in terms of days and what to expect during the downtime. 

Downtime means the effects of the laser are visible on the skin aka the world may start asking what happened to you!

For the ablative laser effects, the spot that undergo the treatment will turn much darker, a little like the dried chicken pox scab.  It usually takes a few days (probably 4-5 days) for it to stay brown and slowly turn into finer dots and flake away.  Not like the chicken pox scab when it hardens and falls off.

For the non-ablative laser treatment, the skin and the whole face will be a little sensitive.  Different skins may have a different variant of side effects.  Many said the downtime of non-ablative is less, however, certain very sensitive skins may experience a worst downtime compared to others.  It can turn reddish for a few days.  In some cases, it stayed reddish orange for 3 weeks. 

What is the price difference between ablative laser treatment and non-ablative laser treatment?

Ablative treatment may count per spot/area to be treated, e.g. RM50-80 per area and non-ablative costs per session or per package of treatments, plus consultation fees which varies from doctors to docters. For the first time and one-time treatment with consultation, the cost for the non-ablative treatment could reach about RM500.

Not knowing how your skin will react to non-ablative lasers, it is recommended to try a session first and not commit to a package deal. 

What is the length of treatment and are there repeat treatments?

Ablative laser for spot treatment should only require one treatment but if the affected area is deep and intense, it may require another treatment.  Non-ablative lasers would require a few sessions to remove the sun spots.

Depending on how a patient protects her face from the sun, ablative treatments may not require repeat treatment for years if any.  Non-ablative lasers do require patients to repeat their treatment such as 1-3 months in order to maintain it.

After effects of both ablative and non-ablative laser treatments

Most lightening treatments, probably with the exception of natural ingredients, do tend to be more sensitive to the sun.  This is so for both the ablative and non-ablative laser treatments. After either treatment, its best to adopt a vampire-like lifestyle till the skin calms down.  The non-ablative laser treatment will be more sensitive to sun exposure as the whole face has to undergo the treatment.  On the other hand, the non-ablative treatment is centered on a specific spot.

Negative effects

All treatments will pose some risks.  Both may cause redness.  As the non-ablative lasers targets the inner layer of skin, certain skin may experience a change in skin tone colour such as the skin may be darker over time.

Author: Guest Writer