Laser Skin Resurfacing

The Ultimate Guide to Laser Skin Resurfacing

Laser skin resurfacing can help rejuvenate the lifetime of damage and flaws your face has endured. One of the first parts of your body to show it’s age, sun damage, acne scars, age spots, wrinkles, furrows and other skin imperfections can be minimized with laser technology and your complexion significantly improved.

Am I suitable for laser skin resurfacing?

It’s important to prepare yourself for this procedure initially by discussing your cosmetic hopes and expectations with your dermatological surgeon. You will also be asked to disclose your medical history, current and past health problems and any medication you take. Aspirin, ibuprofen or vitamin E should not be used for at least 10 days as these over-the-counter drugs can affect clotting.

If you suffer with cold sores around your mouth, laser skin resurfacing can aggravate this condition and trigger further breakouts and you may be prescribed an antibiotic or antiviral medication to prevent it before your visit.

All of these factors will determine your suitability for this treatment. If you’re a smoker, it’s imperative that you quit for two weeks prior and at least two weeks following your procedure as the chemicals in cigarettes will severely hamper your recovery. Also minimize exposure to the sun as this may cause irregular coloration to your skin.

How does laser skin resurfacing work?

It works by delivering an intense wavelength of light which vapourises the outer layers of skin. The intense heat causes just the right amount of controlled damage to the targeted area, removing old and sun-damaged skin. As the skin heals, it restructures and increases collagen production. The new layers which form are smoother and tighter and the results last between one and five years.

What’s the procedure for laser skin resurfacing?

There are two kinds of lasers: ablative (wounding) lasers which are more invasive and non-ablative (non-wounding) lasers.

Ablative laser resurfacing:

One of the most effective cosmetic procedures which produces the best clinical results is ablative laser skin resurfacing. This is used to treat moderate visible signs of aging including: wrinkles, liver spots and age spots, pigment irregularities (uneven skin tone), lesions, acne or chickenpox scars and can significantly improve aged or sun-damaged skin.

The procedure can’t remove excess or sagging skin or deep wrinkles and the results won’t be permanent because as you age, you will continue to develop wrinkles as you skin loses elasticity.

Non-ablative resurfacing:

Targets early signs of aging such as fine lines, uneven pigmentation and changes in skin texture. It involves fractional lasers which use lower energy than the ablative treatment and treat the dermis (lower layers of skin) without damaging the surface (epidermis).

The lasers are passed over the treatment area which has been numbed with local anesthetic: the eyes, lips, forehead or in some cases, the full face, in a series of horizontal and vertical passes which creates microscopic treatment zones and delivers heat into the skin. This eliminates old cells, the heat stimulates collagen and healthy, tighter skin grows, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

The skin will be numbed with a local anesthetic, held taut and the patient issued with goggles to protect the eyes. You will feel a prickly sensation and your doctor may apply a cooling treatment for pain relief.

Because the non-ablative lasers don’t resurface the skin as invasively as the alternative treatment, multiple sessions will be necessary to achieve the best results. On the plus side, it can be performed in the doctor’s office in under an hour and although the results are less pronounced, the recovery period is shorter and potential complications are reduced.

What is the recovery time from laser skin resurfacing?

This is a good time to note that there is a longer post-operative recovery period for ablative treatment and most patients take around two to four weeks for redness and swelling to recede, depending on the depth of skin removal.

For the first 72 hours, you will experience itching and after 5 days, the skin will start to dry and peel, it’s vital that you don’t pick off this skin as it will leave scars. Ice packs, healing ointment and keeping the head raised with an extra pillow whilst sleeping will help with healing and improve comfort and help speed up the growth of new skin.

Once the skin heals, you can wear light, oil-free makeup to disguise the redness which will generally fade within three months. It’s strongly emphasised that sun protection (SPF 30) is vital as this is brand new skin which is lighter in colour and will burn easily in the sun. It’s also important to keep your new skin well moisturized.