There are two common treatments for scarring: laser and radiofrequency (RF). They work in different ways, so the method your dermatologist will choose to treat your skin will be based on the extent of the scarring and what your aesthetic goals are in the long run.
How lasers work on scars
Lasers work using heat, light and energy to remove the scarred skin – called ablation. Ablation means ‘the removal of material from’, so laser ablation is using a laser to remove tissue from your skin’s surface.
The laser needs to first penetrate the upper layers of skin to get to the scars underneath, in the deeper layers. This means first thermally removing (controlled burning, in essence) the top layers first, to get to the bottom layers. This is why recovery time from laser ablation is longer than RF treatments. Full laser resurfacing and fractional laser treatments use this thermal ablation method to resurface the skin.
How radiofrequency treatments work on scars
Radiofrequency uses radiowaves to get heat energy into specific layers of the skin – not the top layers, which are safe and preserved from any treatment. Heat flows between electrodes that are placed onto your skin, and favours the easiest route – the deeper dermal layers. Collagen is therefore targeted, not the topmost layers of skin, which are the most resistant to the radiowaves. This is how the scars are targeted.
The collagen is broken down (denatured) and remodelled into its new, smoother appearance. Over time, the appearance of scars improves.
Should I choose lasers or radiofrequency treatments?
The best treatments are going to depend heavily on your scarring and goals. Your dermatologist will be able to guide you through the process, offering you recommendations for a successful treatment plan.
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