What to Expect with Laser Skin Resurfacing
In the world of skin correcting cosmetic procedures, laser skin resurfacing is relatively young, but it is one of the most effective treatments available for improving irregular skin.
It works using direct beams of light, targeting specific areas of the skin and removing irregularities layer by layer. It is a very precise procedure, and knowing how to prepare, what to expect during the procedure and how to recover will ensure your treatment goes as smoothly as possible.
How to prepare for laser skin resurfacing:
First and foremost, have a thorough consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. There are several types of laser skin resurfacing – CO2 laser resurfacing, Erbium laser resurfacing and others – and depending on which kind your doctor uses, your pre-procedure instructions may vary.
If you are a smoker, expect to quit at least two weeks before your laser procedure. Smoking constricts blood vessels and decreases blood flow, offsetting some of the lasers intended effects and making it difficult to heal. Not smoking for two weeks to one month following your procedure is also recommended.
If you drink alcohol, expect to quit a few days before your laser skin resurfacing.
Many doctors will prescribe a special cream to apply daily – such as Retin-A or Solaquin) – for a few weeks prior to your laser skin treatment. These help ensure the skin is smooth, moisturized and in its healthiest condition before the procedure.
Avoid any medications containing aspirin or other forms of blood thinning agents for at least a week to ten days prior to your cosmetic treatment.
If you have cold sores, it is possible that laser resurfacing can cause flare ups. Beginning an anti-fever blister medication before the procedure – such as Zovirax or Valtrex – will help minimize your chances of an outbreak.
Also, do your prep work before going in for your laser skin resurfacing. Purchase the prescription and over the counter medications your doctor recommended. Arrange for someone to drive you home following the treatment, and make necessary arrangements with work and school. After your treatment, your main goal needs to be fast, safe recovery.
What to expect during laser skin resurfacing:
Lasabrasion is performed in an outpatient environment, but some sort of anesthesia, either general or sedation, is required. A laser is then placed over the trouble areas, and the irregular layers of skin are removed.
Most people receive laser skin resurfacing to minimize wrinkles around the eyes, nose and mouth; to reduce acne scarring; or to lessen the appearance of other irregularities, such as sun spots, age spots, scars or freckles.
Directly following the procedure, expect some discomfort, localized pain and swelling. The treated area will be dressed and bandaged for a few days, but expect a good deal of redness when the dressing is removed. The redness will go away, but this can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the patient.
Recovering from laser skin resurfacing:
When bandaging is removed, you will be required to care for your skin very delicately, washing it two to three times per day with doctor-recommended soaps. Pat dry, lightly; do not rub the tender skin.
You will also be required to apply a moisturizing ointment, possibly Vaseline or Crisco. It’s imperative to keep the newly exposed layers of skin well moistened during recovery.
Refrain from wearing contacts for approximately one week following laser skin resurfacing. Swelling is common, and it can make inserting and removing contact lenses difficult.
Do not smoke or drink alcohol during the initial period of recovery.
A few days following the procedure, the skin will begin to form a crust. Do not pick at or pull away the scabs. They will come off gently when the moisturizing agent is applied.
Speak with your doctor about appropriate types of makeup that can be used to camouflage the redness during the first few weeks following your lasabrasion treatment.