Laser resurfacing is a cosmetic dermatologic procedure used to improve the tone, texture, and appearance of uneven skin, and reduce the appearance of minor facial blemishes like acne scars and fine lines. During treatment, a laser sends concentrated pulsing beams of light to remove layers of damaged skin and expose fresh skin cells to the surface. Laser resurfacing is usually used to tone and tighten skin on the face, neck, chest, and hands.
There are three types of lasers used for treatment:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers: CO2 lasers are commonly used to treat warts, scars, and wrinkles.
- Erbium lasers: Erbium lasers are commonly used to treat moderate lines and wrinkles. They have fewer side effects than CO2 lasers, because less surrounding tissue is burned during treatment.
- Non-ablative lasers: Non-ablative lasers pass through the skin without removing it. They are less invasive, but may not provide long-lasting results.
Benefits of Laser Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing can be used to treat the following skin issues:
- Wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet;
- Age and liver spots;
- Sun damage;
- Precancerous lesions;
- Acne scars;
- Old scars;
- Sagging skin;
- Uneven skin tone and texture;
- Enlarged pores; and
- Non-responsive skin following a facelift.
If you have active acne, stretch marks, a history of cold sores, or very dark skin, you may not be a good candidate for laser resurfacing. Talk to your dermatologist about alternative treatment options to meet your skin needs.
What to Expect
Laser resurfacing is an outpatient procedure performed in your dermatologist’s office. Before treatment, your dermatologist will schedule a consultation to review your medical history and health status, to discuss your desired results, and to determine the best laser treatment option for your individual skin. During this consultation, your dermatologist may prescribe an antibiotic as a preventative measure against bacterial infections. If you have a history of cold sores, your dermatologist may prescribe a preventative antiviral medication – laser treatment can trigger a cold sore outbreak.
Talk to your dermatologist if you are on medications that affect blood clotting; you will need to stop taking them ten days prior to treatment. If you smoke, you will need to quit for two weeks before and after the procedure. Smoking can delay skin healing and increase the risk of infection.
Depending on the results you want to achieve, treatment can be performed over a targeted area – like the forehead, mouth, or eyes – or over the entire face. You will be given medication for pain: either local anesthesia at the specific area of treatment, or general anesthesia for larger areas of treatment.
After undergoing laser resurfacing, your skin will be dressed with bandages. You will need to clean and redress the treated areas several times a day until new skin begins to cover the old. You will likely experience redness for several months, but once new skin grows back you can apply oil-free makeup to hide lingering redness. Overall healing can take anywhere from one to two weeks, after which time you will begin seeing results. Use moisturizers and ointments to keep skin hydrated and prevent scabbing. You should avoid excessive sun exposure for up to one year following treatment, and wear sunscreen and protective clothing if you will be outside.
There may be complications from laser resurfacing, including:
- Heat burns;
- Cold sores;
- Milia – tiny white bumps that develop when sweat ducts become clogged; and
You should always seek out a reputable dermatologist with training and practice in laser treatments before proceeding with laser resurfacing. Here at Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers, our medical professionals have the experience you need to restore healthy, glowing skin. Our clinics offer two treatment tools that deliver results with minimal heat damage. Contact one of our ten office locations today to schedule a consultation.