Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing removes skin layer by layer with precision. A tighter, younger looking face forms with the help of the new skin cells that are generated during healing. The procedure can be done alone or with other cosmetic surgeries on the face.
WhO IS A GOOD CANDIDATE FOR LASER SKIN RESURFACING?
You may be a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing if you have fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, shallow scars from acne, or non-responsive skin after a facelift.
You should discuss whether laser resurfacing is right for you by consulting with the doctor before having the procedure done. If you have acne or if you have very dark skin, you may not be a candidate. This technique is also not recommended for stretch marks.
Laser skin resurfacing can trigger breakouts in people who get cold sores or fever blisters around their mouths. Be sure to tell your doctor beforehand if you suffer from either of those.
Dr. Hashemian will tell you to stop taking certain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E, if you decide to go ahead with laser skin resurfacing as these drugs can impact healing and blood clotting.
Benefits and risks of Laser Resurfacing Treatment
Skin resurfacing can improve the appearance of your skin however it cannot produce perfect skin. Laser resurfacing can reduce facial wrinkles and skin irregularities, such as blemishes or acne scars.
Potential risks of the procedure include:
- Redness, swelling and itching. Treated skin may be itchy, swollen and red. Redness may be intense and might last for several months. The aggravation of a previously existing skin condition, such as rosacea, can contribute to redness.
- Acne. Applying thick creams and bandages to your face after treatment can worsen acne or cause you to temporarily develop tiny white bumps on treated skin.
- Infection. Laser resurfacing can lead to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. The most common infection is a flare-up of the herpes virus — the virus that causes cold sores. In most cases, the herpes virus is already present but dormant in the skin.
- Changes in skin color. Laser resurfacing can cause treated skin to become darker than it was before treatment (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation), beginning weeks after laser resurfacing. Permanent changes in skin color are more common in people who have darker skin.
- Scarring. Laser resurfacing poses a slight risk of permanent scarring.
- Turning of the eyelid (ectropion). Rarely, laser resurfacing done near the lower eyelid can cause the eyelid to turn out and expose the inner surface.
how does The Laser Resurfacing Procedure work?
The two types of lasers most commonly used in laser resurfacing are carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium. Each laser vaporizes skin cells damaged at the surface-level.
CO2 Laser Resurfacing
This method has been used for years to treat different skin issues, including wrinkles, scars, warts, enlarged oil glands on the nose, and other conditions.
The newest version of CO2 laser resurfacing (fractionated CO2) uses very short pulsed light energy (known as ultrapulse) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage. Recovery takes up to two weeks.
The technique directs short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin, precisely removing skin layer by layer. This popular procedure is also called lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization.
Dr. Hashemian may treat wrinkles around your eyes, mouth, or forehead individually or treat your entire face depending on what is discussed during your consultation. For small areas, the doctor will numb the areas to be treated with a local anesthetic and may also sedate you. You may require IV anesthesia if your whole face is being treated.
Erbium Laser Resurfacing
Erbium laser resurfacing is designed to remove surface-level and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on the face, hands, neck, or chest. One of the benefits of erbium laser resurfacing is minimal burning of surrounding tissue. This laser causes fewer side effects — such as swelling, bruising, and redness — so your recovery time should be faster than with CO2 laser resurfacing. In some cases, recovery may only take one week. Ask how long recovery is likely to take for you.
If you have a darker skin tone, erbium laser resurfacing may work better for you.
Treating just parts of the face takes about 30 to 45 minutes. A full-face treatment takes up to two hours.
Following the laser procedure, the doctor will bandage the treated areas. After 24 hours, you will need to clean the treated areas four to five times a day and then apply an ointment such as petroleum jelly to prevent scabs from forming.
Swelling after laser skin resurfacing is normal. Your doctor may prescribe steroids to manage swelling around your eyes. Sleeping on an extra pillow at night can also ease swelling.
You may feel itching or stinging for 12 to 72 hours after the procedure. Five to seven days after laser resurfacing, your skin will become dry and peel.
Depending on the problem that was treated, healing typically takes 10 to 21 days. Once the skin heals, you can wear oil-free makeup to minimize redness, which usually fades in two to three months.
You will also probably notice that your skin is lighter for a while after surgery. It is particularly important that you use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen, which screens ultraviolet B and ultraviolet A rays, to protect your skin during that time. When selecting a sunscreen, look for one specially formulated for use on the face with a 7% (or higher) zinc oxide content and a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Reapply your sunscreen every two hours when you are out, and more often if you are sweating or swimming.
It is also important to keep your new skin well moisturized. If you use Retin A or glycolic acid products, you should be able to start using them again after about six weeks or when the doctor says you can.
What Can Be Expected?
In most cases, only one treatment is needed. The initial redness fades in a few weeks to a light pink, which can be camouflaged with cosmetics. The discoloration usually disappears in one to three months. The goal of laser resurfacing is to enhance facial appearance. Expectations by the patient must be realistic and results should be anticipated as improvements rather than total corrections. Results of the surgery depend on many factors such as the size, shape, and location of the imperfection and the patient’s heredity, age, and general skin condition.
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