Fractionated Laser Resurfacing or Micro-needling: Which One Should I Have to Improve My Skin?

MicroneedlingAs a plastic surgeon, I am often asked by patients, friends and family members, “what can I do to look younger?”. The appearance of the skin is the most troubling to them. Typically, they are bothered by wrinkles, discoloration, enlarged pore size, and sometimes scarring from acne in their youth. Luckily for them, I am armed with a multitude of products and treatments that will rejuvenate the skin. Two of the most popular treatments used at the Emory Aesthetic Center Spa are fractional laser resurfacing and micro-needling. Let’s review each one to help you decide which one is right for you.

Fractional Laser Resurfacing

Fractional Laser Resurfacing is a non-ablative laser used to resurface the skin. The laser works by penetrating beneath the skin’s surface to the dermis, where it heats the tissue and initiates a healing process that forms new, healthy tissue. The treated area regenerates new collagen, improving the tone and texture of the treated skin, resulting in a fresher and more youthful skin tone.

Micro-needling

Micro-needling is a procedure that uses needles to create micro-channels in your skin without causing thermal injury to the surrounding tissue. Like lasers, micro-needling relies on the skin’s natural healing ability. But since the mechanism leaves the protective epidermis intact, there is less risk of scarring and infection. This results in the skin becoming firmer and regaining elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles are visibly reduced, pores become finer and the overall condition of the skin improves.

So how do you choose?

For both procedures, a topical numbing agent will be applied to your skin about 60 minutes prior to treatment – oral pain medication is NOT needed. A relaxing spa environment also accompanies the procedure for added benefit to the experience.

Once adequately anesthetized, the treatment begins. The forehead is treated first as it can be the most painful anatomical location for either procedure. Patients generally grade the pain associated with laser treatment at 4-6 on a scale of 10, and the micro-needling as a 2-3, being notably more tolerable. We understand that no one welcomes pain, but if you know that your pain threshold is somewhat low, micro-needling may be a better choice for you. Both procedures are relatively fast with the laser treatment completed on average in 20-30 minutes, while micro-needling takes 15-20 minutes.

Both procedures lead to redness immediately at the completion of the treatment. You appear as if you have a sunburn. The redness persists for 24-48 hours in both cases, although it seems to resolve more quickly after the micro-needling than laser. There is more associated swelling with the laser treatment as well. In both case, makeup can be worn the next day to help camouflage these changes so no one will be any wiser.

Most importantly, people with all skin types can effectively use micro-needling throughout the year. Unlike lasers, micro-needling does not depend on chromophores (pigment or color) to work. Therefore, it does not matter how dark one’s skin tone is when considering whether to perform a micro-needling treatment. Micro-needling can provide great results for people with all skin types, which is not the case for lasers.

If you think you may benefit from fractional collagen induction therapy either by laser or micro-needling, an evaluation at the Emory Aesthetic Center Spa is a great start. Let us help you reveal your beauty and decide what treatment is best for you.

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About Dr. Anderson

Erica Anderson, MDErica Anderson, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and currently holds an appointment as Assistant Professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery at Emory University. Dr. Anderson completed her general surgery residency and plastic surgery residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and associated hospitals in Denver, CO. She completed a year of advanced training in Aesthetic Surgery at Grotting Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Anderson returns to Emory University after being in private practice in Arlington, Virginia. While there, she maintained a busy aesthetic and reconstructive practice and also served as Medical Director for the Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Center at Virginia Hospital Center.

Dr. Anderson’s academic and research interests are largely focused on clinical outcomes with regards to cosmetic surgery. Her areas of clinical interest are diverse including cosmetic surgery of the breast and body as well chest wall reconstruction and wound care.

Dr. Anderson is married with 3 children, Trent, Connor and Fiona, and 2 vizslas, Max and Mimi.

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