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Improve Acne Scars and Skin Imperfections with the Palomar Laser

Updated on December 26, 2014
Palomar laser treatment review
Palomar laser treatment review | Source

Did you suffer from acne as a teenager or young adult and now live with the dark marks left behind from those painful teenage blemishes? Perhaps you still get the occasional breakout only to see the effects of it linger on your skin long after it has been cleared away?

If you suffer with acne scarring and dark marks and have tried over the counter topical creams and serums promising great results but have been far from satisfied, laser treatment to clear up those old scars may be the answer for you.

If you have been considering laser skin treatment, the below review is from my own experience with the Palomar Fractional Laser treatment. Like many teenagers, I had several breakouts mostly concentrated on my templates and upper cheeks. After years of trying dark spot removers, moisturizers, and even natural treatments like coconut oil to help fade away the marks, I turned to Palomar laser treatments to help get stronger, faster results.

Check out my review below to help you decide for yourself if a fractional laser treatment might be your answer to clearer, more even toned skin!

What can Cause Acne Scars and Dark Marks?

Avoid picking at skin
Avoid picking at skin | Source

Acne scars and acne marks left after your acne has cleared can be two different skin conditions.

Acne scars are typically pock-like marks left on your skin often caused by deep cystic acne or by picking or popping at breakouts which can rupture the healthy skin under the blemish and leave an indent in your skin.

Dark spots on the other hand, can often be left on skin after a blemish clears and sits closer to the top of the skin resulting in darker pigmentation rather than an indent.

How can you avoid these pesky skin imperfections?

Cleansing face
Cleansing face | Source

As if a breakout weren’t enough of a challenge to treat, it’s important that you begin by treating the blemish the right way to avoid having further skin imperfections like scarring and marks after the blemish clears.

Best ways to avoid scarring and dark marks from acne:

  • Avoid the temptation to pick at or pop blemishes which will only rupture and damage your skin

  • Cleanse your face with a mild, oil free face wash twice a day.

  • Apply oil free moisturizer even if your skin has breakouts. The moisture will help keep your skin’s oil production under control so it does not overcompensate with oil and produce more blemishes.

  • Avoid touching your face. Your fingers will only deposit bacteria and dirt into your pores causing breakouts which could lead to more dark marks or potential scarring.

Issues the Palomar Laser can help Improve

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  • Scars

  • Stretch marks

  • Fine lines

  • Sun damage

  • Skin irregularities

How the Palomar Laser Works

Skin professionals put the Palomar Fractional laser into the “non-ablative” category of lasers which means that it penetrates deep into the skin to repair from the inside out, as opposed to “ablative” lasers which slough off the top surface of the skin and repair from the top down.

Ablative lasers like the Palomar help your skin build up any damaged tissue, like acne scars, from the inside out to help your skin naturally “fill in” the indented skin.

The laser penetrates heat deep into the skin and slightly “damages” it so that your skin goes into “repair mode.” During repair mode, your skin works from the inside out to “repair” the slight damage from the laser and in the process, helps rebuild your formerly damaged or scarred skin from acne.

After treatment you can expect to see:

  • More plumped skin

  • Resurfaced scars

  • Improved skin texture

A Walkthrough of the Treatment Procedure

Many clinicians typically recommend 3-5, or more, treatments depending on the severity of the scarring or skin imperfection you are trying to improve. Typically the treatments can be done within 3-4 weeks of each other.

1. First, Many clinics offer the option of skin numbing before each treatment. Typically, a clinician will apply a topical numbing treatment 30 minutes before the laser treatment to cut down on some of the pain associated with the laser.

2. Then, the clinician administering the laser treatment will clean off the numbing cream with an alcohol soaked pad to prep your skin. He or she will then place a set of UVA/UVB protective googles on both you and themselves and the treatment begins.

3. The laser looks like a pen the clinician holds in their hand and makes small, quick passes over the affected area. The treatment generally lasts between 5 – 10 minutes depending on the amount of surface area you are treating.

4. With each pass of the laser, the sensation feels like sharp, snaps of a rubber band against your skin. While not overly painful, after several passes in the same area, your skin can start to feel a slight burning sensation.

Watch a demonstration of the Palomar 1540 laser

Post-Treatment Skin Care

Applying  moisturizer
Applying moisturizer | Source

After the treatment, the clinician will apply a liberal amount of moisturizer and sunscreen. It is imperative that in the days and weeks following the treatment that you take good care of your skin and keep it very well moisturized with a lotion or Vaseline.

Your skin may be slightly red and swollen for a few days after the treatment but that is a good sign that your skin is beginning to repair itself.

Some patients, including myself, experience breakouts or blistering on the site area. Liberally applying Neosporin or an over the counter antibiotic cream 2-3 times a day will help clear it up.

Your skin can also feel rough to the touch for the next several days after treatment but typically returns back to normal after a few days if you are sure to apply moisturizer and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

Typically within 5-7 days your skin should return to normal.

Deciding if the Palomar Laser is Right for You

If you are still unsure whether deciding to take the plunge and try a fractional laser treatment to clear up your acne scars or dark marks, start by making a list of pros and cons. Asking yourself the following set of questions can help you weigh both sides and help you make your decision more easily:

  • How satisfied have you been with over the counter creams or topical treatments to treat my acne scars or dark marks thus far?

  • Are there any other creams or over the counter treatments that I would like to try first or that I have not yet tried?

  • How much disposable income am I willing to spend on laser treatments?

  • Have I been to a clinic to receive a consultation so I know how many treatments the clinician recommends and how much the total cost will be?

  • Am I willing to stay out of the sun for the weeks following my treatments?

If you have answered “no” to any of the above questions, you may want to carefully consider your decision.

Before making your final decision, it is very important to go into a clinic for a consultation so you can have your own individual skin assessed and to find out how many treatments you may need and what the total cost will be.

Benefits vs. Risks of the Palomar Laser

More expensive than topical treatments
Fast recovery time
Redness and swelling for up to a week after treatment
Good results for scarring and skin imperfections difficult to treat with topical treatments
Must avoid sun exposure during days and weeks following treatment

Remember, everyone’s skin is different and may react differently to different treatments. It’s important to go into any treatment with realistic expectations. Do not expect perfect results, but if you are looking for a safe, relatively non-invasive procedure to help improve the appearance of your skin, the Palomar fractional laser may just be your answer.

Have you ever had laser treatments? Would you recommend them to a friend? Share your experience with laser treatments in the comments.


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