What benefits can I expect?
A single treatment usually removes greater than 75-100% of an individual brown spot. A second or, on rare occasions, a third treatment, may be needed to completely neutralize the color.
What are the risks and side effects?
A red or brown spot may appear when the treated sun freckle is gone and the crust heals. Although this new spot is temporary and usually goes away on its own, it can be treated if it persists. Infections and/ scars are rare. Proper skin care and sun avoidance are important.Prior to treatment potential risks and side effects will be discussed with you by your cosmetic coordinator and medical provider.
What happens after treatment?
If the area being treated is the face, make sure to tell the provider if you have a history of cold sores on herpes simplex because laser energy may activate the virus. Be aware that you will have crusts on the treated area for a few days to 2 weeks (if on the legs, it may even be 3-4 weeks). We recommend that you treat these with plain vaseline or petroleum jelly and keep them covered with bandages until they are healed, as this speeds the healing. Although you can use makeup over the treated areas, they may be difficult to cover with makeup. Otherwise no preparation is necessary. You feel a burning sensation on the treated area for several minutes or up to a few hours. The spots become red and form a crust that must be covered to heal optimally. The crust heals in 3 to 14 days, (longer for arms and legs) depending on the location and how well you care for it.
Does it matter what time of the year laser skin resurfacing is done?
No. The procedure can be done all year round, though in the summertime, however, sunscreen must be used following the procedure.
How much improvement of wrinkles can I expect?
The degree of improvement is very individual. At your initial consultation, your doctor will determine how much improvement is possible.
How should I prepare for the treatment?
Start by consulting a plastic surgeon or dermatologist to find out if you're a good candidate.Tell your doctor if you get cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth. Laser skin resurfacing can trigger breakouts in people who are at risk. If you decide to go ahead with laser skin resurfacing, your doctor will ask you to not take any medications or supplements -- such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin E -- that can affect clotting for 10 days before surgery.If you smoke, you should stop for two weeks before and after the procedure .Smoking can prolong healing. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic medication beforehand to prevent bacterial infections and also an antiviral medication if you are prone to cold sores or fever blisters.
What should I expect during and after the procedure?
Laser resurfacing is done by a plastic surgeon or dermatologist. It's an outpatient procedure, meaning you'll not have to stay overnight.
The doctor may treat wrinkles around your eyes, mouth, or forehead individually or treat your entire face. For small areas, the doctor will numb the areas to be treated with a local anesthetic and may also sedate you. You may get general anesthesia if your whole face is being treated.
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 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.
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.
Can suntanned skin be treated?
Yes, this is not a problem.
What are the risks of laser resurfacing?
Although skin resurfacing cannot produce perfect skin, it can improve the appearance of your skin. Potential risks of the procedure include:
- Burns or other injuries from the laser's heat
- Changes in the skin's pigmentation, including areas of darker or lighter skin
- Reactivating herpes cold sores
- Bacterial infection