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Fractional lasers were first developed based on observations of lasers designed for hair transplantation. In 2007, ablative fractional laser resurfacing was introduced. The fractionation allowed deeper tissue penetration, leading to greater tissue contraction, collagen production and tissue remodeling. Since then, fractional erbium:YAG resurfacing lasers have also been introduced. These lasers have yielded excellent results in treating photoaging, acne scarring, and dyschromia. With the adjustment of microspot density, pulse duration, number of passes, and fluence, the surgeon can adjust the treatment effects. These lasers have allowed surgeons to treat patients with higher Fitzpatrick skin types (types IV to VI) and greater individualize treatments to various facial subunits. Immunohistochemical analysis has demonstrated remodeling effects of the tissues for several months, producing longer lasting results. Adjuvant treatments are also under investigation, including concomitant face-lift, product deposition, and platelet-rich plasma. Finally, there is a short recovery time from treatment with these lasers, allowing patients to resume regular activities more quickly. Although there is a relatively high safety profile for ablative fractionated lasers, surgeons should be aware of the limitations of specific treatments and the associated risks and complications.
Carniol PJ, Hamilton MM, Carniol ET. Current Status of Fractional Laser Resurfacing. JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2015;17(5):360-366. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2015.0693