Facial Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing is the latest advancement in
the removal of facial lines, refining scars and rejuvenating
aging skin. This procedure utilizes a CO² (carbon
dioxide) laser that is able to vaporize the superficial
layers of tissue on your face revealing smooth new skin
that offers an invigorating appearance. For many people,
this procedure has become the treatment of choice for
the management of facial wrinkles, lip lines, crow's
feet, scars and pigmentation abnormalities. This procedure
is preferred because it is a safe and reliable method
with little risk of scarring and no bleeding.
How is facial laser skin resurfacing
Using a CO² laser, you surgeon will direct a beam
of concentrated light on the facial lines, scars and/or
wrinkles you're having treated. As your surgeon moves
the laser back and forth, its pulse gently vaporizes
the upper layers of your skin and effectively wipes
them away. The laser is absorbed by the water present
in human skin, and essentially produces a mild, controlled
burn. As new skin cells develop during the healing process,
a smooth, fresh layer of skin slowly emerges. With a
CO² laser, surgeons can be very precise in terms
of the laser strength and exposure time given to the
treated areas. Although laser skin resurfacing is still
a new procedure, it has shown to result in less bleeding,
bruising and short-term discomfort than other skin resurfacing
How long does facial laser skin resurfacing
The time required for laser skin resurfacing varies
a great deal. For minimal resurfacing the procedure
may take as little as a few minutes. For more involved
procedures where a larger area of skin is being treated,
the procedure may take up to one and a half hour. If
the skin imperfections being treated are exceptionally
deep, your surgeon may recommend that your resurfacing
be performed in two or more sessions.
What type of anesthesia is used?
In most cases, laser skin resurfacing procedures are
performed using local anesthesia and a sedative. This
means you will be awake during your procedure, but very
relaxed. Any discomfort you may feel will be very minimal.
For more extensive and lengthy procedures, your surgeon
may choose to use general anesthesia, which means you'll
be asleep during the entire procedure.
Where is the procedure performed?
Laser resurfacing may be performed in a hospital, an
outpatient surgery center or a surgeon's office-based
facility. For cost containment and convenience, laser
resurfacing is usually done on an outpatient basis.
For the more extensive resurfacing procedures or for
resurfacing combined with other surgical procedures,
you may be admitted to a hospital or a recovery center.
When can I return home and resume
Laser skin resurfacing procedures are typically done
on an outpatient basis, which means there is no overnight
hospital stay required and you can return home after
your procedure. Be sure to make arrangements for someone
to drive to you home after your procedure, because you
will be recovering from the effects of local or general
anesthesia and any sedatives your surgeon may have given
you. On some occasions, your surgeon may recommend an
overnight hospital stay if you have had a very extensive
procedure, or combined your laser skin resurfacing with
You should allow yourself seven to ten days before
returning to normal physical activity. During this period
you may have facial bandages and be required to apply
ice packs or ointments to your treated areas. Any scabbing
or flaking of the skin is usually present during this
ten-day period; so many patients choose to stay home.
After this ten-day period most patients are able to
return to their normal activities. However, your surgeon
will recommend that you avoid exposure to the sun for
some time after this period. If you must be outside
for prolonged periods of time, it is recommended that
you wear hats that shade your face and wear sunscreen
lotions with an SBF of 15 or higher.
How do I prepare for facial laser
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will
discuss the changes that you would like to make to your
appearance. Since the appearance of your face is a matter
of personal perception and preference, you will need
to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can
determine the appropriate alternatives. A complete health
history will be discussed with your surgeon at this
time. Specifically, the surgeon may want to know if
you have ever taken Accutane, birth control pills, or
if you have ever had blotchy pigmentation with pregnancy
or sun exposure. Knowledge of any history of cold sores,
bleeding problems, infectious diseases and a tendency
towards scarring should be brought to the surgeon's
attention at this time.
Once your health history is reviewed, your surgeon will
assess and evaluate your skin. Specific instructions
to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be
given to you after the health history and physical is
complete. Your experience will be much smoother if you
remain compliant with your surgeon's instructions.
What precautions are necessary during
In most cases you will experience some mild swelling
and discomfort immediately following your procedure.
The use of ice packs and medication will minimize the
feeling of discomfort. When your laser skin resurfacing
procedure is complete, your surgeon may apply creams
or ointments to your skin until it is healed. Some surgeons
will choose to place a bandage over the treated areas
to protect them during the five to ten days of your
recovery. After this period your surgeon will remove
the bandage and may apply a thin layer of ointment to
your skin. At this time your surgeon will provide you
with specific instructions about how to wash and care
for your treated skin. In the days immediately following
your procedure, you may notice that some small crusts
or flakes have developed on your treated area. It's
important not to pick these flakes off because it may
leave scars. They normally will disappear by themselves
after about 10 days.
What are the possible complications
after facial laser skin resurfacing?
As with any surgical procedure, laser skin resurfacing
has some potential risks and complications that you
should be aware of. Complications tend to be minimal
and infrequent when this procedure is performed by an
experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Potential
risks associated with this procedure include burns,
scarring and noticeable lightening or darkening of the
skin. Laser resurfacing also has the potential to activate
herpes infections and, in rare cases, other types of
infections. If your healing is abnormal or very slow,
or you show greater than usual scarring, additional
corrective treatments may be required. It is always
important to be informed about the possible complications
before any surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns
you may have with your surgeon.
What results can I expect after facial
laser skin resurfacing?
In the weeks immediately following laser skin resurfacing,
your skin will normally remain bright pink or red. Your
surgeon may prescribe medication so this color will
subside more quickly. The pinkness in your skin color
can last to some degree for up to six months. However,
most women are able to apply makeup after two weeks
so the pinkness is less noticeable. In rare cases, your
skin may be too sensitive to wear makeup. If this happens,
ask your surgeon if he or she can recommend an alternative
type of makeup that may not cause your skin to react.
You will want to protect your skin's treated areas from
the sun for several months following your procedure
until your skin color has returned to normal. Using
sun protection lotions will help you maintain the positive
results you have achieved with laser skin resurfacing,
and help you avoid any new damage to your skin.
If you must be in the sun, wear hats that will shade
your face and use sun block lotions with an SBF of 15
or higher. If laser skin resurfacing was performed in
the areas around your eyes, wear high-quality sunglasses
with UVA and 100% UVB filters. Final results from laser
skin resurfacing treatments may take several months.
However, once the pinkness fades away, most women notice
dramatic improvements in the smoothness and fresh feel
of their skin. Though your results will be long lasting,
they may not be permanent. In the years following your
treatment, you may still develop the lines and wrinkles
that result from aging and natural facial movements.
Laser skin resurfacing treatments can usually be repeated
throughout your lifetime. However, by taking basic measures
to protect your skin, you should be able to make the
results you achieve through your initial treatment last
for many years.
Choosing the right surgeon
To obtain further information regarding ear surgery,
we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced
board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type
of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose
the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive
a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your
area, simply fill out our Online
Referral Form or call Toll