If aging, acne, or too much time in the sun has left your face with blotches, scars, wrinkles, or lines, laser skin resurfacing may help your skin look younger and healthier.
Laser skin resurfacing removes skin layer by layer with precision. The new skin cells that form during healing give the skin a tighter, younger looking surface. The procedure can be done alone or with other cosmetic surgeries on the face.
Preparing for Laser Resurfacing
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 to 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 require 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.