Laser Resurfacing

1 What is a Laser Resurfacing?

A skin resurfacing procedure which uses a laser to treat minor facial flaws or to boost the appearance of your skin is called laser resurfacing.

There are two types of lasers a non-wounding or non-ablative laser that stimulates collagen growth and tightens underlying skin.

A wounding or ablative laser that removes the thin layers of your skin. The non-ablative laser is less invasive but less effective compared to ablative laser.

Laser resurfacing can treat loss of the skin tone and decrease the appearance of facial fine lines.

If you have scars, your complexion may also become better if you undergo laser resurfacing.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reasons for laser resurfacing are to treat:

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3 Potential Risks

For ablative laser resurfacing, the potential risks include:

  • acne – this will happen if you put bandages or creams after the procedure, you may also develop milia or white bumps
  • swelling, redness and itching – at the treated area and you may experience this depending on the depth of the resurfacing
  • changes in skin color – a person may experience hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation
  • infection – you might have viral, fungal or bacterial infection such as a flare-up of the herpes virus leading to cold sores
  • the turning of the eyelid or ectropion – this is a very rare condition wherein the eyelid turns out and exposes the inner surface
  • scarring – this can be a permanent scarring

Non-ablative resurfacing has side effects such as:

  • changes in the skin color
  • infection
  • scarring and blistering but rarely
  • mild redness and swelling that lasts for up about a week

Laser resurfacing is not for:

  • pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • have a history of radiation therapy to your face
  • has diabetes, autoimmune disease or weak immune disease
  • have a history of keloids
  • have taken acne medication

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In order to prepare for the laser resurfacing, you and your doctor will discuss first the procedure. He will conduct a physical exam and inspect your skin so he can determine what changes can be made.

He will review your medical history. You can ask your doctor things that are not clear to you regarding about the procedure. He will also ask you some questions.

He will discuss with you the benefits and risks of undergoing this procedure.

Before the laser resurfacing:

  • your doctor will ask you to avoid unprotected sun exposure up to two months before the procedure to avoid permanent irregular pigmentation
  • take medication if you had a history of herpes infection around your mouth, and to prevent a viral infection
  • ask someone to drive you home after the procedure

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your laser resurfacing procedure.

Before the procedure, you need to clean your face and cover your eyes. Your doctor will numb your skin with local anesthetics. Ablative and non-ablative resurfacing are both outpatient procedures.

In ablative resurfacing, the laser will be directed at your skin to destroy the outer layer of your skin known as epidermis and at the same time healing the underlying skin or dermis.

New skin forms that are tighter and smoother as the wound heals. This procedure can take up from 30 minutes to two hours depending on the size of the treated area.

In non-ablative resurfacing, your doctor will apply cryogen spray or a water-based gel or cool air in the treated area before directing the laser to protect the outer layer of your skin.

There is no skin to be removed. The laser will damage the collagen under your skin and stimulates the growth of the new collagen. It will help in improving skin tone, appearance and will tighten underlying skin.

Non-ablative takes up about 15 minutes to one and a half hour depending on the size of the treated are and the techniques that are used.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your laser resurfacing results, consult with your doctor.

Your skin may turn red up to several months after the ablative laser resurfacing. You will see the difference in your skin’s appearance and quality once the treatment area begins to heal.

The results can last up to years. The result for non-ablative laser resurfacing is progressive and gradual. You will see the improvements in pigments and texture.

To prevent irregular pigmentation, avoid unprotected sun exposure for one year. New sun damage can also reverse your results. These results are not permanent as you grow old.

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