For patients that want the benefits of laser resurfacing, but are not good candidates for superficial ablative lasers like the fractional CO2, Dr. Ransom offers non-ablative laser treatments for facial rejuvenation and scar treatment. This includes the Erbium:YAG laser from Ellman (now Cynosure), with a wavelength of 2940nm, and the Cynosure Icon Palomar, with a 1540nm Erbium beam. These treatments are revolutionary non-invasive laser therapies designed to dramatically improve skin tone, texture, and pigmentation, including the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles, acne scarring and surgical scars, brown spots, melasma, and stretch marks without significant downtime. The Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 is similar technology to the Fraxel laser except that there are no consumable costs passed on to the patient – which means that we are able to offer our fractional laser treatments at a much better price.

Until recently, two varieties of laser treatment were available for cosmetic enhancement – ablative (those that remove tissue) and non-ablative (those that do not remove tissue). Traditional ablative lasers, such as the CO2 laser, use bursts of energy to vaporize the skin surface at a very high temperature. While these treatments can be very effective for some patients, unwanted side effects may occur in some cases and with certain skin characteristics. In addition, aggressive ablative laser treatment will generally require a significant healing period. Non-fractional, non-ablative lasers, alternatively, are very safe and require almost no downtime. This technology, however, may involve numerous treatments over many months to achieve only modest results.

The first, and probably best-known, fractional non-ablative laser on the market was the Fraxel. The Palomar lasers, with wavelengths of 1540nm and 2940nm, are both newer and more refined technologies. Perhaps more than any other area of cosmetic surgery and medicine, laser treatments are advancing rapidly with technological breakthroughs. Now, there are laser treatments that offer significant improvements with little downtime and reduced side effects.

The Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 laser combines the power of ablative lasers with the safety of non-ablative lasers in order to treat a variety of cosmetic conditions in the face and neck.

Uses for Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 and Er:YAG 2940 Treatments

  • Improve skin texture and pore size
  • Rejuvenate your face, neck, and upper chest skin
  • Smooth fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improve acne scars and surface texture irregularities
  • Diminish the appearance of surgical scars
  • Erase unwanted brown spots and decrease melasma
  • Minimal downtime and lower cost (no disposables!)

How Does it Work?

The Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 utilizes fractional resurfacing technology, where only a small percentage of the skin actually receives the energy from the laser. Thousands of tiny but deep columns of laser energy are produced from the handpiece and enter the skin separately. Around these microscopic treatment zones, the surrounding tissue is unaffected and intact. This allows the skin to heal much faster (days) than if the entire area were treated as a block (weeks) – utilizing the natural healing process of the body to create new, healthier, tighter, and more even skin. The deeper penetration of energy also stimulates collagen production in the skin, resulting in a “plumping” effect. This rejuvenates – literally makes young again – the skin surface from the inside out, giving a smoother texture and softer appearance of wrinkles and scars. With non-ablative lasers, the laser beam heats the skin to cause inflammation and new collagen production. The benefits of the Palomar 1540 non-ablative laser skin treatments are dramatically reduced recovery time, but the results in terms of wrinkle removal and skin tightening are less dramatic than with aggressive ablative laser treatments.

What Can I Expect?

Clinical studies suggest that on average, the most effective treatment regimen is 3 to 5 sessions, spaced 2 to 4 weeks apart. You may start to see results after the very first treatment. After your final treatment, improvement will progress for at least 3 months as your collagen continues to remodel.

Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 laser treatment is performed using only topical anesthesia in most cases. If your skin is more sensitive, we will ensure that you are made comfortable. The topical anesthetic is applied one hour prior to treatment. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes for the entire face. We then recommend application of cold compresses and daily use of a moisturizer with at least SPF 30 sunscreen. You may apply make-up or shave soon after treatment.

After the treatment, you will experience a mild sunburn sensation for about an hour and then minimal discomfort. The skin will have a pinkish tone for 5 to 7 days. This is a normal sign that the skin is deeply healing. Swelling is common and may last for 2 to 5 days. Flaking and bronzing, which are part of the normal process of skin repair, may also occur. Some patients are able to return to routine activities the same day. Others require a little more time, depending on their skin condition and treatment. It is important to apply an SPF 30 sunscreen daily during the healing phase and for several months after to protect the new skin.

Over the following weeks and months, the body repairs the deeper dermal tissues that have been affected by the Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 treatment, producing even longer beneficial changes.

Advantages of Non-Ablative Laser Treatment with Palomar and Erbium Lasers

  1. Significantly less downtime than CO2 lasers. Most patients have some pinkness or irritation, with the possibility of mild bronzing, for 48 hours or less.
  2. Deeper penetration of the laser energy results in increased collagen production, and therefore greater improvements in skin “plumping” – wrinkle reduction, surface contour regularity, and texture regularity improvements.
  3. Fewer complications, especially in pigmentation changes (both hypo- and hyperpigmentation). Please note that all patients are different and individual healing times and results may vary. The statements regarding procedures and recovery made here are general rules.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Non-ablative laser resurfacing is a type of cosmetic enhancement that doesn’t require the removal of tissue like ablative laser resurfacing does. Ablative lasers like the CO2 laser use concentrated energy bursts to vaporize the surface of the skin at high heat levels. Although ablative lasers can be quite efficient, they aren’t well suited for everyone, and not everyone can commit to the downtime associated with this type of skin resurfacing. Non-ablative lasers are safe and quite effective, but they take more time to yield results. Non-ablative laser skin resurfacing may be ideal for patients who want to improve their skin dramatically through a series of treatments.

    Dr. Ransom uses the Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 and Er: YAG 2940 lasers to get excellent results in non-ablative laser resurfacing treatments. These lasers, which use wavelengths 1540nm and 2940nm, are a more refined and newer version of the first fractional non-ablative laser, the Fraxel.

    Non-ablative laser resurfacing with the Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 and Er: YAG 2940 can help with a broad range of skin issues. These lasers can improve skin texture, reduce pore size, smooth away fine lines and wrinkles, reduce acne scars, reduce surgical scars, eliminate sun spots, and decrease melasma. While non-ablative laser resurfacing can help with many common skin problems, the results won’t be as dramatic as those achieved with ablative laser resurfacing.

    The Cynosure Icon Palomar 1540 uses fractional technology, which means only a small part of the skin gets the laser energy. Thousands of microscopic columns of laser energy are generated and sent deep into the skin in the treatment areas. The surrounding skin is completely unaffected. The laser energy deep within the skin agitates the skin to stimulate new collagen production, which then creates a smoothing and plumping of the skin in the targeted areas. Over time, scars are filled in, folds are lifted up, and skin looks younger and tighter overall. Most people will need 3-5 sessions scheduled 2-4 weeks apart.

Dr. Evan Ransom is an Ivy League-educated and Ivy League trained Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon. He is a Double Board Certified Head and Neck Surgeon and Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and fellowship-trained in facial plastic, reconstructive, and laser surgery. His practice is in the San Francisco Bay Area, serving patients from San Francisco, Oakland, Marin County, Palo Alto, Silicon Valley, Walnut Creek, the East Bay, and all over Northern California.