What is laser resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing is a beauty treatment that is intended to reduce facial irregularities, wrinkles, skin color variations and acne scarring. The med-spa technique directs short, concentrated pulsed beams of concentrated light at irregular skin and precisely removes the skin layer by layer. This is a popular procedure and while it is often performed by technicians, it is recommended that it be performed under the supervision of a surgeon or experienced healthcare provider. Other names that are also used are lasabrasion, laser peel, or laser vaporization.
candidates for laser skin resurfacing
If you have fine lines or wrinkles around your eyes or mouth or on your forehead, scars from acne, or persistent sagging skin after a facelift, then you may be a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing. It is important to understand how pigment in skin plays an important role in choosing which laser type is right for you. If you have very dark skin, you may not be a candidate for CO2 laser resurfacing, the most popular form of laser resurfacing. However, there are other wavelengths of light that may be appropriate for your skin type and you may still be a candidate for laser resurfacing.
This technique is also not recommended for stretch marks. However, microneedling RF has been shown to be highly effective for stretch marks in all areas of the body. Click the hyperlink above to learn about the options Dr. Cilento has to tackle this difficult problem. In any case, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Cilento and discuss whether laser resurfacing is right for you.
How does Laser resurfacing work?
Laser stands for light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation. Lasers are characterized by the wavelength of light that are used to create the beam of light. In general there are two types of lasers used for skin resurfacing. Carbon Dioxide and Erbium, each having pros and cons. They are used in combination or separately to handle most lesions and most skin types.
Carbon Dioxide Laser Resurfacing
This is the oldest type of laser in use and is generally used as a fractionated beam to avoid the old style prolonged recovery of weeks to months. Used in this fashion it is very effective in the treatment of wrinkles, lesions, variation in color, and general aging.
Erbium Laser resurfacing
Erbium lasers work at a completely different wavelength than the Carbon dioxide lasers. It is generally used in the resurfacing of the face, hands, neck, or chest afflicted with moderate changes associated with aging. One of the benefits of erbium laser resurfacing is minimal burning of surrounding tissue. This laser causes fewer side effects — such as swelling, bruising, and redness — so your recovery time should be faster than with CO2 laser resurfacing. In some cases, recovery may only take one week Ask your doctor how long recovery is likely to take for you. Also it is quite effective on people with darker skin tones.
Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedure
Generally, Dr Cilento will perform laser resurfacing as an outpatient procedure, meaning there is no overnight stay. He uses a combination of oral, IV and inhaled anesthesia and analgesia in order to accomplish this. Dr Cilento also performs laser resurfacing in combination with other procedures such as deep plane facelift and Fractora. In these instances, patients can stay overnight in one of the well equipped overnight observation rooms.
Dr Cilento may use the laser to treat wrinkles around your eyes, mouth, or forehead or treat your entire face. For small areas, the doctor will numb the areas to be treated with a local anesthetic. Larger areas may require some form of analgesia such as Pro-Nox or IV sedation. Dr. Cilento may also use general anesthesia if your whole face is being treated.
The Procedure may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how extensive the treatment area is.
Recovery After Laser Resurfacing
Following the procedure, the doctor will apply a salve consisting of different substances depending on the extent of resurfacing. Crisco, aquaphor or some combination of the two is not uncommon to use. He may also use xeroform gauze to cover the face for the first 24 hours. Starting 24 hours after treatment, you will need to clean the treated area four to five times a day with a very mild cleanser. Then you’ll need to apply the treatments as outlined above to prevent scabs from forming. In general, the areas heal in 7 to 21 days, depending on the condition that was treated.
Sometimes you may experience variable amounts of swelling after laser skin resurfacing. Dr. Cilento may prescribe oral steroids to manage swelling and may ask you to sleep on extra pillow or in a recliner at night to help ease swelling. Putting a washcloth soaked in ice water and laying it over the treated area also helps in the first 24 to 48 hours after laser resurfacing. 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.
Once the skin heals, Dr Cilento recommends using an ultra-hydrating booster or extreme moisturizer with SPF block available as part of the CFP skin care line or a similar product from one of many vendors. You can also wear oil-free makeup to minimize redness, which usually fades in one to three months. You will probably notice that your skin is lighter for a while after surgery.
Skin Treatments After Laser Resurfacing
It is important that you use a “broad-spectrum” sunscreen (available from our CFP skin care line). This 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. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher.
It is also important to keep your new skin well moisturized. If you use Retin A, (as part of a comprehensive CFP anti-aging protocol) or glycolic acid products, you should be able to start using them again about six weeks after the procedure or when the doctor says you can. Once the treated areas have healed, if there is any residual redness you can wear makeup to hide the pink to red color that can be seen after laser skin resurfacing. This is not common after fractionated laser resurfacing but was quite common after ablative laser resurfacing. Oil-free make-ups are recommended after laser resurfacing.
Results Of Laser Skin Resurfacing
The redness in the traditional laser resurfacing sites generally fades in two to three months. But it may take as long as six months for the redness to completely disappear. Redness generally lasts longer in people with fair skin but again this is uncommon after fractionated laser use.
People with darker skin tones are more likely to get darker pigmentation. This may be minimized by using a bleaching agent such as CFP’s hydroquinone/Retinol mixture before and after laser skin resurfacing.