With laser skin resurfacing, wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and other blemishes can be reduced, and skin can be tightened. Because lasers can accomplish so much and vary so widely in their effects on your skin, it can be difficult to know where to begin when researching treatment options-even a cursory internet search reveals a myriad of competing devices and technologies. Here are some important things you need to know about laser resurfacing shared by our facial aesthetics doctor in Chicago.
What is the best time to have laser skin resurfacing?
Do you know that autumn is known as the “laser season”? Since laser-treated skin may be hypersensitive to sunlight for up to one year following certain procedures, many cosmetic surgeons suggest undergoing laser resurfacing in the autumn or winter months when daytime hours are shorter and you spend most of your time indoors.
Regardless of the time of year in which you have your laser procedure, make sure you wear a broad-spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen daily. This not only keeps your results looking their best but also helps prevent skin cancer and premature aging.
Some treatments may cause discomfort, while others may not.
Doctors and patients often compare the sensation felt during laser treatments to a rubber band snapping against the skin. Depending on the laser, the depth and area of treatment, and an individual’s tolerance for pain, laser resurfacing may feel different.
To keep a patient comfortable during deeper ablative (where some outer layers of the skin are removed) laser treatments, local anesthetic injections or intravenous sedation may be needed. The CO2 laser and the Erbium YAG laser are examples of ablative lasers.
Many non-ablative laser treatments (in which the laser passes through the skin without removing layers) are relatively painless and require only topical anesthesia. There may be some tenderness in the treated area following the procedure. If necessary, your provider will recommend safe ways to control discomfort after laser resurfacing.
You can still undergo laser resurfacing if you have dark skin.
It is a common misconception that laser resurfacing is only safe for light skin types. Even though certain lasers can cause cell damage or discoloration in darker skin, there are also safe and effective options available. Sometimes, erbium laser resurfacing can be a good option for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians with lighter skin tones, posing a lower risk of discoloration. Patients with darker brown or black skin may need to explore other skin resurfacing options, such as radio-frequency treatments or micro-needling.
Laser treatment is affected by certain medications or conditions.
Your medical history and any medications or supplements you are taking should always be disclosed to your provider. For instance, if you tend to get cold sores or fever blisters, laser treatments can cause breakouts. The use of acne medication containing isotretinoin (i.e., Accutane) can lead to poor healing or scarring from laser resurfacing, while over-the-counter products like aspirin can cause bleeding after surgery.
Additionally, diabetes and other chronic conditions may affect the safety and results of laser resurfacing. To provide your body with the best chance for optimal results, you should also give up smoking at least 2 weeks before and after laser treatments.
You may need some downtime after laser treatment.
Despite laser treatments generally being considered non-surgical, not all are downtime-free. Depending on the type of laser used and an individual’s health and healing rate, laser resurfacing recovery times will vary.
Non-ablative lasers usually require no downtime, whereas ablative lasers can require 2 to 3 weeks of healing before the new skin is healed completely and a final result is apparent.
This does not mean you need to stay at home for a month; it just means your skin will be raw, red, and scabbed over while it heals. You may not feel comfortable in certain social situations, and you will need to modify your activities to avoid situations where infection might occur (such as swimming, working out in the gym, etc.).
We invite you to schedule an appointment with our facial aesthetics office in Chicago, IL if you are considering laser treatments to improve your skin.