What is Laser Resurfacing?
It is a laser treatment that helps reduce facial wrinkles, skin irregularities such as blemishes, acne scars, age spots, as well as tightening the skin and balance skin tone. Here we will inform and prepare you everything you need to know about laser resurfacing, and why you should possibly get this treatment done.
So when should you get laser resurfacing?
Did you know that autumn is considered “laser season”? Because laser treated skin is hypersensitive to sun exposure for up to a year following some procedures, many cosmetic surgeons recommend undergoing laser resurfacing during fall or winter months, when daytime hours are shorter, and you are spending most of your time indoors. Regardless of when or what time of year you get your laser treatment, you must ALWAYS wear a broad-spectrum of SPF 30+ sunscreen daily and reapply as needed, we recommend every 2 hours for optimal protection. Not only will this keep your results looking at its best, but it also provides protection against skin cancer and premature aging.
If I get this treatment, will it hurt?
Many people will compare the sensation warm with a rubber-band like snapping against the skin. However, what laser resurfacing feels like depends on the laser, the depth and area of treatment, as well as the individual tolerance for pain. Deeper ablative (when the outer of the skin is removed) laser treatment may require local anesthesia injections or intravenous sedation to keep a patient comfortable. Examples of ablative laser treatments are CO2 laser and Erbium YAG lasers. Some non-ablative laser (when laser pass through the skin without removing layers) causes minimal to no pain and require only topical numbing cream to offset discomfort. Some non-ablative laser treatments include pulsed-dye, ND: YAG and Alexandrite lasers. With any laser treatment, it will be followed by tenderness edema (redness) can be expected. Your provider will recommend safe ways to control and ease discomfort when necessary.
Is laser resurfacing safe for all skin types?
There is a misconception that majority laser treatment is only safe for lighter tone skin types. While it is true, however with the latest technology and studies, there are safer methods for darker skin types that can achieve the same results. For lighter toned African American, Hispanic, or Asian skin tones, Erbium laser resurfacing can sometimes be a good option, posing less risk for discoloration. Patients with darker brown to black skin may need to consider other skin resurfacing options, such as Radio Frequency treatments or micro-needling.
What are some conditions that may prevent you from getting laser resurfacing?
When getting any laser treatment, always be upfront and honest with your provider about your medical history and any medications or supplements you are taking. If you are prone to cold sores or fever blisters, laser treatments may induce breakouts. Acne medications that contain Isotretinoin (Accutane) can lead to poor healing or scarring from laser resurfacing, while common over the counter medication like aspirin can increase the risk of post procedure bleeding. Smokers are recommended to quite smoking 2 weeks prior to laser treatments to avoid complications with healing. Be sure to keep in mind that a series of laser treatment may be needed in order to achieve desired results.
With any laser treatment, do plan on having some down time off. Although some laser may require no down time at all such as non-ablative, some (ablative lasers) require longer healing time approximately 2-3 weeks, depending on the depth of the treatment. Laser resurfacing recovery time varies depending on the type of laser used, as well as individual’s health and healing rate. This does not mean you have to stay home for a month, it just means that the skin will most definitely be raw, tender, red and scab over as it heals. You may not feel comfortable in certain social situations, however you may need to modify your daily activities to avoid situations where infection my be possible (exercise, swimming, saunas, etc.). If you are considering laser treatments to improve your skin, be sure to do extensive research to see what skin concerns you can benefit with laser resurfacing. Be sure all your questions is answered with satisfaction by a knowledgeable Physician, or a qualified skincare professional trained in laser resurfacing.