Risks of Laser Skin Tightening

If you're looking to restore firm and youthful skin through chemical or medical means, you may be considering newer skin care technologies, such as laser skin tightening. The process involves the use of laser (a combination of infrared and radioactive) beams that cause skin cells in the middle layer of skin to clump together, creating a smoother skin surface and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The process also encourages stimulation of collagen, a connective type of skin tissue that gives a healthy, plump appearance of skin. However, laser skin tightening also presents some risks you should understand before undergoing the process.

Close-up of a woman receiving laser treatment on her face. (Image: kadmy/iStock/Getty Images)

Skin Color Change

Because the laser disrupts the structure of skin cells beneath the surface, it also has the potential of damaging skin cells that produce melanin, which gives skin its pigment. According to PerfectYourself, a website offering resources regarding cosmetic surgery basics, procedures and costs, damage caused by the laser may encourage enhanced production of melanin, which may darken skin in places, or lighten it, leaving the skin looking blotchy. This condition is known as either hyperpigmentation (darkening) or hypopigmentation (lightening) of the skin.

Swelling

Damage to cellular structures can cause inflammation, which leads to swelling. Laser skin tightening is often achieved through the removal of excess fat beneath the surface of the skin, according to the DermaNetwork. If you have any type of procedure where subdural tissues, including skin cells, are disrupted, you may experience puffiness or swelling as a reaction to disturbance. While the swelling usually goes down in one to three days, the area may also be tender to the touch.

Bruising

Disruption to cells often causes skin tissue damage that results in rupture of blood vessels beneath the top layer of skin, resulting in bruising. Again according to PerfectYourself, the severity of bruising will depend on you skin condition, age and areas of treatment. As with swelling, bruising often diminishes within a few days.

Medication Interactions

According to DocShop's resources on the risks and benefits of laser skin tightening, if you're taking certain prescription medications, such as acne medications containing retin-A or Accutane, you may experience harmful reactions to laser skin tightening treatments due to interaction of drugs with the heat generated by the laser therapy. Discuss concerns regarding medications with the professional offering the treatment. Pregnant women should avoid laser skin tightening.

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