Laser Skin Resurfacing
What is laser skin resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is a rejuvenation procedure that helps improve the skin’s appearance over time and can treat minor facial flaws.
What does laser skin resurfacing help with?
Laser skin resurfacing can be used to treat a wide range of skin conditions like:
- Scars from acne or chickenpox.
- Uneven skin pigmentation.
- Skin scars or birthmarks.
- Age spots, liver spots.
- Sun-damaged skin.
- Non-responsive skin after a facelift.
- Fine lines or wrinkles around or under the eyes, forehead, or mouth
- Enlarged oil or sebaceous glands on your nose or elsewhere on the face
What is the treatment like?
During the procedure, your skin will be anesthetized approximately 30 minutes beforehand and the laser will be directed at your skin. For ablative laser resurfacing, the treatment will take around 30 minutes to an hour. This approach will only take one treatment.
For non-ablative laser treatments, you will typically need several sessions over a couple of weeks to get the results you desire. Before and After photos are a great way to gauge a comparison and judge improvement.
The lasers typically target the epidermis and the dermis, which stimulates collagen production or neocollagenesis.
What types of lasers are used?
The two main types of lasers are: ablative lasers and non-ablative lasers. Ablative lasers typically penetrate the epidermis and affect the dermis. Non-ablative lasers are less aggressive and have a shorter recovery time, but the results are less noticeable and more superficial.
CO2 laser resurfacing has been successfully used to treat wrinkles and scars as well as other benign skin growths such as warts, birthmarks, aging (rhytidosis facials), rhinophyma (enlarged sebaceous glands on the nose – typically seen in rosacea), and other skin conditions as well.
Erbium laser resurfacing is designed to remove superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on your face and should require only a local anesthetic. One of the benefits of erbium laser resurfacing is minimal injury to surrounding tissue. This laser causes fewer side effects than other CO2 lasers, such as swelling, bruising, and redness, so your recovery time should be more rapid.
If you have a darker skin tone, erbium laser resurfacing may be a good choice for you.
Fractional Lasers are able to deliver narrow columns of lasers to the skin. Your skin tightens as the collagen between the treated laser surface areas. The benefit of this type of laser is that less skin is injured and recovery time is faster.
Your doctor will determine which type of laser resurfacing treatment is best for you after a full evaluation of your medical history, current physical condition, and desired results How should you prepare for laser skin resurfacing?
Before the procedure, you should not take any medications or supplements like aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E – since they can affect clotting – for 10 days prior to procedure. Make sure you do not take any medications that cause photosensitivity for at least 72 hours before.
If you smoke, you should also stop two weeks before the procedure since it can prolong healing.
Avoid heavy sun exposure and deep facial peel procedures for the month before your procedure.
What to expect after the procedure?
Laser skin resurfacing is an outpatient procedure so you will go home that day.
For the 24 hours following the procedure, you will need to clean the treated area four to five times a day and apply petroleum jelly to prevent scabs from forming.
Swelling is common and your doctor may prescribe steroids to manage the swelling. You might want to sleep with an extra pillow to ease the swelling.
For up to 72 hours, you might feel some itching or stinging. Five to seven days after your skin may start to become dry and peel.
Healing can take up to 10 to 21 days. Once your skin has healed you can wear oil-free makeup to minimize the redness, which usually goes away within two or three months.
Make sure to wear broad-spectrum sunscreen since your skin may be lighter for a while after the procedure, which is a risk for hyperpigmentation if sun protection is not followed closely.
What might make you not a good candidate for this procedure?
You might not be suitable for this if you have active acne, very dark skin (Fitzpatrick skin types V-VI), deep wrinkles, or excessive or sagging skin. However a consultation, virtually or in person, to determine if this is the right treatment for you is a step in the right direction.