If aging, acne, or prolonged sun exposure has led to the appearance of wrinkles, blotches, scars, or fine lines on your skin, laser skin resurfacing can help you regain younger and healthier skin. Laser resurfacing removes the top skin layer with precision and new skin cells form during the healing process, thereby making the skin firmer, tighter and younger. The procedure can be done alone or in combination with other cosmetic skin rejuvenation procedures.
Preparing for Laser Resurfacing
Start by consulting a dermatologist to find out whether you’re the right candidate for this treatment. Notify your doctor if you often get fever blisters or cold sores around your mouth. Laser resurfacing can trigger a breakout in people who are at risk. If you decide to go ahead with the procedure, your doctor will tell you to not take any medicines or supplements like ibuprofen, aspirin, or vitamin E that could affect clotting for 10 days prior to surgery.
If you smoke, you must stop for 2 weeks before and after the procedure as smoking delays healing. If you are prone to cold sores or fever blisters, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic medication in advance to prevent bacterial infections.
What are the Risks?
Potential risks of laser resurfacing include:
- Burns or injuries from the laser’s heat
- Changes in skin pigmentation, including areas of lighter or darker skin
- Bacterial infection
- Reactivation of herpes cold sores
What to Expect During and After Treatment
Laser skin resurfacing is performed by a trained dermatologist or plastic surgeon. It is an outpatient procedure, which means you’ll not have to stay overnight. The doctor may treat your entire face, or treat wrinkles around your mouth, eyes, or forehead individually. For a smaller area, the doctor will numb the area using a local anesthetic. If your whole face is being treated, you may be administered with general anesthesia. Treating just parts of the face takes around 30-45 minutes. A full-face procedure takes up to 2 hours.
After the procedure, the doctor will bandage the treatment area. After 24 hours, you will have to clean the treated area 4 to 5 times a day and apply an ointment or petroleum jelly to prevent scab formation. You might feel an itching or stinging sensation for 12 to 72 hours after the procedure. After 5 to 7 days of the procedure, your skin will turn dry and peel.
Swelling after laser resurfacing is normal. The doctor may prescribe steroids in order to manage any swelling around the eyes. Depending upon the problem that was treated, healing usually takes 10 to 21 days. Once the skin has healed, you can wear oil-free makeup to minimize any redness, which generally fades in 2 to 3 months. During the healing process after treatment, it is very important to use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen to protect your skin against damaging ultraviolet rays. It is also important to keep the new skin well moisturized.
Cost of Laser Resurfacing
As per the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for laser resurfacing was about $2,300 in 2011. However, the cost can widely vary, depending upon where the procedure is performed. Since laser skin resurfacing is considered as a cosmetic procedure, most insurance companies don’t cover it. There could be an exception if you undergo the procedure to remove precancerous growths or modify scars on your skin.