We all age, but when the signs start to show, like wrinkles, age spots, scars, blemishes and warts, it can be disturbing. No matter how consistent you were in hiding and eliminating these flaws, over time, they can find a way to surface on your skin. You may start to feel helpless until someone tells you that there is a solution to your problem.
It goes by the name of laser skin resurfacing. After much contemplation and convincing, you have decided that it is time to do it. But before you jump in with both feet, you need information about what this procedure is about, and you are in the right place. Read on to learn more about what laser resurfacing, so you’ll know what to expect.
1. Getting Up Close and Personal with Skin Resurfacing
Do you want a smoother complexion? Do you have scars that constantly remind you of the injuries you once had? There are scar creams and lotions available in the market,or you can try cosmetic procedures, such as chemical peels or microdermabrasion, but for fast and efficient treatment results, nothing beats this medical option, as you will learn.
It is called laser skin resurfacing or laser skin rejuvenation.
Laser facial resurfacing is a type of cosmetic procedure that uses lasers to improve the appearance of your skin. It can treat or eliminate flaws and imperfections on your skin’s surface. This includesthe following:
- Fines lines or wrinkles
- Acne scars
- Scars from chickenpox
- Age or sun-damaged skin
- Liver spots
- Enlarged oil glands on your nose
In other words, this procedure aims to bring you younger, smoother and healthier-looking skin.
2. Know Your Options: The Three Common Types of Laser Resurfacing
Here’s another thing you should learn about this procedure: you have options. In fact, there are three most commonly used in facial laser resurfacing, which you will learn more about below.
For many years, specialists have used carbon dioxide laser skin resurfacing to treat various skin conditions like scars, warts, wrinkles and enlarged oil glands, among many other skin issues. At present, the CO2 laser skin rejuvenation uses either ultra-pulse, short pulsed energy or continuous light beams.
These light beams penetrate through your skin in a scanning pattern to remove thin layers of your skin with minimal heat damage. Recovery may take up to two weeks because of the side effects, which includeredness, swelling and bruising.
Erbium laser resurfacing aims to remove the surface level and moderately deep wrinkles on your face, neck, chest, or hands. Unlike the carbon dioxide variant, this type of resurface procedure has minimal burning on the surrounding tissue and causes fewer side effects. This equates to faster recovery time, too.
Compared to the first two procedures, Fraxel laser skin resurfacing is a non-invasive procedure that helps improve your skin’s appearance. The good thing about this procedure is that there are fewer side effects,so you won’t experience skin tenderness or pain. There is also no downtime required after the session.
Apparently, this is not a single session, which means you may have to go back several times before you see a noticeable change in your skin.
3. Yay or Nay: The Ideal Laser Skin Resurfacing Candidates
Here’s the thing: not everyone, including yourself perhaps, is a good candidate to avail of laser skin resurfacing for acne or for other skin conditions. There is no doubt that this procedure could do an excellent job in getting rid of scars, fine lines, wrinkles, and irregular skin pigmentation. Unfortunately, there are factors dermatologists have to consider before allowing you to partake in this procedure.
These factors are:
- Skin type
- Skin tone
- Existing medical conditions
- Medications you are taking
- Overall health
The ideal candidate meets these qualifications:
- Elastic, non-oily skin
- Not easily prone to scarring
- Free from any medical consideration and conditions
- A lighter skin tone
What if you have a darker skin tone? Does this mean you can’t try this procedure? Not necessarily. If you have darker skin, keep reading to know what your options are.
4. Dark Skin, Don’t Care: Why Skin Resurfacing Could Still Work For You
Ideally, laser skin rejuvenation works best for those who have lighter skin tones. The reason why those with dark skin tones are not good candidates is because of the increased side effects associated with it.
What makes dark-skinned people poor candidates for laser skin resurfacing? In laser skin resurfacing, the pigment in targeted skin cells easily absorbs the high energetic laser light. This produces intense heat, which leads to cell destruction. Then, the excess laser light is either absorbed by the surrounding and untargeted skin cells or harmlessly diffused.
If you have dark skin, there is more skin pigment present, which means more skin cells are at risk of absorbing the excess laser light energy. The effect: skin discoloration and blistering.
Does this mean facial laser resurfacing is no one of your options? Of course not. Erbium laser procedures work best if you have a darker skin color because of lower risk of discoloration. At the same time, make sure to go to a dermatologist who had experience handling laser resurfacing in dark-skinned individuals.
The next question now is how does this procedure works? Read the next section to find out how.
5. How It Works: A Glimpse into the Laser Facial Resurfacing Procedure
Now that you know what this procedure is, plus the two most common types, it is time to familiarize yourself with how the procedure works.
From the name itself, laser skin resurfacing is all about thermal energy and beams of light. Depending on the appropriate procedure, your doctor uses specially crafted beam of thermal energy that penetrates and works deep into the layers of your skin.
Once you are under anesthesia, the procedure starts with removing the outer layer of your skin or epidermis then simultaneously heat the dermis. This high energy laser allows your skin to repair and reform naturally while encouraging growth of healthy new collagen for a more even complexion. As the treated area heals, smoother and firmer skin will form.
Since it is laser treatment, your doctor can target specific problem areas while removing unwanted or damaged skin in a precise manner, one layer at a time. This is why laser skin resurfacing for acne scars procedure is among the commonly sought treatments these days.
6. A Matter of Time: How Long Laser Skin Resurfacing For Acne Scars Will Take
You might be wondering whether you can avail of this procedure during your lunch break either in a hospital or outpatient surgical facility. The answer is, it depends.
Depending on the affected area and the type of laser resurfacing most appropriate for your skin condition, the procedure takes 30 to 45 minutes for partial treatment and up to two hours for full laser skin rejuvenation.
Before scheduling the treatment during office hours, make sure to ask your doctor as to how long it will take. You also have to consider the after effects, which you will learn more about below, to properly schedule the procedure.
7. Preparation is Key: How to Get Ready for Laser Resurfacing
Just like any other medical procedure, preparation is crucial for laser skin resurfacing. In fact, you need to employ pre-procedure techniques to minimize side effects and ensure quality results.
Here’s what should you do before your laser treatment:
- Consult a dermatologist to make sure that you are a good candidate for this type of treatment.
- Inform your doctor if you get fever blisters or cold sores around your mouth. This type of procedure could trigger breakouts so make sure you disclose this information.
- Do not take any medications or supplements that could affect clotting 10 days before the surgery. This includes vitamin E, ibuprofen, and aspirin.
- Quit smoking, at least two weeks before the procedure. Smoking could prolong your healing process and recovery period.
- Keep yourself as healthy as possible. Drink lots of water, eat fruits and vegetables, and get enough sleep. Don’t forget to include exercise in your routine.
It may sound simple, but doing the proper preparation could make a difference in the success of your laser skin resurfacing procedure.
8. Laser Skin Resurfacing: What to Expect Before, During and After Your Procedure
Let’s say you are scheduled for laser treatment at the end of the month. You followed your doctor’s instructions and made sure you prepared prior to the procedure. What happens next?
Laser skin resurfacing is an outpatient procedure, which means you don’t have to stay in the hospital after your treatment. Once your doctor identified the problem areas, they will start to numb these areas using anesthesia.
For small areas, local anesthesia will do. On the other hand, your doctor will give general anesthesia if they plan to treat your whole face.
Let’s start with the procedure. After numbing the area for treatment, your doctor will prepare the special laser they will use during the procedure. Through a precise and controlled beam of laser light, your doctor vaporizes the outer layer of your skin to reveal a smoother, younger-looking one beneath it.
Depending on your skin-appropriate remedy, the procedure will last from 30 minutes to two hours.
Here comes the challenging part, which is your post-treatment.
After the laser procedure, your doctor will cover the treated area with bandage. As soon as you head home, here are the things you need to do:
- Clean the treated area four to five times a day after 24 hours from treatment.
- Apply ointment like petroleum jelly to prevent formation of scabs.
- Take doctor-prescribed steroids to manage swelling, especially in your sensitive eye area. Keep in mind that swelling is normal.
- Avoid wearing makeup during the healing process.
Keep reading to know what else happens more than 24 hours after the treatment.
9. The Healing Process: Navigating the Road to Recovery
Aside from what was mentioned above, you might be wondering what happens after the procedure and the things you may experience during the healing process. The first thing you will experience is stinging or itching sensation, usually for 12 to 72 hours after the procedure. On the fifth to seventh day, your skin starts to peel and become dry. This is when your recovery process starts.
The recovery period usually takes 10 to 21 days. Thereafter, you will notice that your skin becomes lighter. Still, there are post-treatment practices you need to do to ensure the best results, which are:
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least a sun protection factor of 30 or higher for protection.
- Wear protective clothing especially when going outdoors. This includes wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
- Keep your skin moisturized.
- If you plan to use makeup, then make sure it is oil-free to avoid clogging of dirt in your pores.
If you are unsure as to what to do, then don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. After all, after-treatment techniques play a crucial role in ensuring and prolonging the results of your skin resurfacing.
10. The Good Side: Benefits of Going Through Laser Skin Treatments
The bigger question now is why you should go through this procedure.
Here’s the truth: there are many natural and cheaper alternatives to bring back your skin’s youthful glow; however, there is nothing wrong with considering this type of treatment, because it:
- Diminishes the appearance of skin flaws, such as wrinkles, acne scarring, birthmarks, age spots and blotchy patches.
- Improves your skin’s overall texture.
- Stimulates the production of new collagen in the lower dermis to facilitate skin rejuvenation.
- Is effective as a stretch marks treatment.
- Act as an excellent treatment for skin cancer in its early stages.
- Proven as a treatment for reducing facial scarring, whether mild or moderate.
In other words, laser skin resurfacing works best to improve your skin and bring back its healthy, youthful glow. Here’s the thing: this type of procedure comes with risks and side effects. If you are wondering what these are, then read the next section to find out.
11. The Not-So-Good Side: Know the Risks of Laser Skin Rejuvenation
Fact: all good things come with a price – and a set of side effects. Despite the promising results, this type of procedure still comes with risks and side effects, which you may experience.
Some of the side effects you may experience are:
- Swelling on the treated area
- Irritation similar to sunburn
- Abnormal bleeding
- Cosmetic damage for those prone to scarring
- Increased risk of skin disorders like acne and cold sores
- Permanent darkening of the skin, common with darker skin tones
- Permanent lightening of the skin
Keep in mind that these side effects may or may not happen to you. The important thing is to go to a board-certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon to discuss your options. Consequently, make sure to discuss your medical history, including medical conditions, medications, and prior skin treatments, too. This way, your dermatologist will know which type of procedure works best for you, thereby minimizing side effects.
12. What to Expect: The Results of Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedure
You already know what to expect after the procedure. You also have an idea of what will happen and the side effects you might experience after treatment. The next thing you should know is the results of laser skin rejuvenation after the healing and recovery process.
Here’s what will happen:
- Your skin may still be pink or red for several months after the procedure.
- There is increased sensitivity to sunlight for at least a year, which is why it is important to apply sunscreen liberally everyday.
- You will see a gradual improvement to your skin within one year from your treatment.
Here’s the thing: the normal aging process dictates that wrinkles, sun spots and fine lines will happen, despite seeking treatment early on in your life. That’s okay. You can repeat this procedure to reduce their appearance whenever you find it necessary.
13. When the Price is Right: Laser Skin Resurfacing Costs
Here’s the next concern: laser skin resurfacing prices.You probably already know that everything comes with a price. Since you are getting a quality treatment, then you have to prepare your wallet, because you are sure to shell out some of your hard-earned money.
How much does laser skin resurfacing cost?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or ASPS, the average cost of ablative of laser resurfacing is $2,146, while non-ablative procedure is about $1,062. However, there are many factors when computing how much you have to pay, which are the:
- Expertise and qualifications of your dermatologist.
- Exact type of procedure they plan to use.
- Time and effort of the procedure required.
- Location of the clinic.
- Number of treatments necessary.
Aside from this, you have to consider other factors in your computation such as:
- Anesthesia fees
- Surgical facility costs
- Prescription medications
Keep in mind that laser resurfacing is considered cosmetic surgery; hence,it is most likely not covered by your insurance.
14. Is Laser Procedure the Right Treatment for You?
Fact: there are tons of cosmetic procedures available in the market that aim to solve whatever skin issues you have. Apparently, each cosmetic procedure is designed specifically for a particular skin condition. The question now is this: is laser skin resurfacing the right treatment for your skin issue?
The truth is, this cosmetic procedure is not for everyone. In fact, it may not be your best choice if you have:
- Dark skin
- Active acne
- Excess or sagging skin
- Deep wrinkles
This is why it is important to schedule an appointment, let the doctor to examine your skin, and discuss the most appropriate treatment for you. This leads us to the next one.
15. Choosing a Plastic Surgeon for Facial Laser Resurfacing
In the world where everything can be replicated and reproduced, it is hard to tell whether the doctor is a legitimate one or not. Don’t worry. Here are tips you need to remember in choosing a plastic surgeon or dermatologist:
- Check out the online referral service of ASPS, the largest plastic surgery organization in the world. All ASPS physician members are also certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
- The physician must be experienced in handling this type of procedure. Ask for before and after photos and patient testimonials.
- The dermatologist’s office must be easily accessible and the doctor must be readily available.
- Ask for recommendations from your general physician, as well as any family and friends who went through the same procedure.
Remember: in the wrong, inexperience hands, laser skin resurfacing can be dangerous. Make sure to choose the right dermatologist for you.
16. The Most Important Things to Remember Before the Procedure
Without a doubt, laser skin resurfacing could help turn things around in the skin department – and you have to commend the experts for constantly looking and improving on the ways to do so. While the results and testimonials look promising, there is something you need to remember: keep your expectations realistic.
Over the years, experts have worked hard to improve the procedure and correct any imperfections to ensure quality results. A lot has improved, but keep in mind that the procedure may or may not work for you.
Therefore, keep your expectations realistic. Don’t expect to see a smoother, more even skin tone, and a blemish-free face in just one treatment. It is best to educate yourself first about what this treatment can do to in order to help you determine whether laser skin resurfacing is the best choice for you.
Things You Should Remember
The secret is out. Laser skin resurfacing is one of the most effective options when it comes to keeping your skin young, healthy and glowing. However, you need to remember that there are risks associated with it.
Before you rush to see your doctor and demand for this treatment, make sure to take note of these 16 things you need to remember. Educate yourself about this kind of procedure to help you familiarize and understand what you will go through. This way, you can enjoy its benefits and keep your skin blemish-free, sans the side effects.