Laser Resurfacing / Skin resurfacing

Laser resurfacing, or skin resurfacing is a special treatment intended to reduce wrinkles, blemishes and acne scars. The technique basically involves directing short pulsating beams of light in the affected areas, following which skin is removed layer by layer. In medical world, laser peel or lasabrasion are names used for the procedure.

Who is considered a good candidate for the procedure?

In general, people having skin issues like wrinkles, scars, blemishes and shallow skin scars are considered to be the ideal candidates. People who have very dark skin or extreme acne may not be considered for skin resurfacing. The technique is also not advised for treatment of stretch marks. It is best to talk to a doctor before considering the procedure.

Types of Laser Skin Resurfacing procedure

Typically, erbium YAG and carbon dioxide are two kinds of lasers used for skin resurfacing. Lasers are used to vaporize the skin cells, which have been damaged on the surface and also induces collagen formation here’s more about both types of laser.

Erbium Laser Resurfacing

This technique works for removing moderate wrinkles and fine lines on the face and other parts of the body, including chest, hand and neck acne scars, open pores, keloid. Erbium laser resurfacing is effective as the side effects are limited (compared to CO2), and the surrounding tissues aren’t damaged in fractional mode, which reduces the recovery time. However, your doctor is the best person to suggest the recovery time. Do note that this technique is a better choice for people with Indian skin.

Carbon dioxide Laser Resurfacing

This technique has been used for years to deal with skin problems, especially wrinkles, open pores and shallow scars. The most updated technique fractional Carbon dioxide Laser Resurfacing uses ultrapulses in a scanning pattern, so that as to remove the skin layers of the surface skin. The recovery process can take up to two weeks.

Preparing for Skin Resurfacing

  1. The first step is to consult with a known and experienced dermatologist to know if the procedure is an option for you. The doctor must be experienced and have extensive training in laser resurfacing. Based on the medical history and health of the candidate, the doctor will take a decision.
  2. A person should talk to the doctor in detail. Issues like fever blisters and cold sores should be mentioned, as the procedure may have cause breakouts in people with such tendencies. For the same, the doctor may suggest preventive antiviral medicines.
  3. A few medicines, including common medicines like Vitamin E supplements and aspirin, should be avoided for at least 10 to 15 days before the surgery. The doctor will advise on the same.
  4. The doctor may also offer antibiotics, so that all possible bacterial infections can be avoided.
  5. Smoking should also be avoided for at least a fortnight before and after skin resurfacing.

Things to expect

  1. Unless recommended by a doctor, laser resurfacing is completed as outpatient procedure.
  2. The doctor may choose to treat the entire face or work with individual areas. In some cases, local anesthesia is used to numb the areas. , or the doctor may opt for general anesthesia.
  3. Typically, the procedure should take around 15 to 45 minutes, but larger area may take more time.
  4. The doctor will suggest cleaning the treated area for around 2 to 3 times a day, 24-hours after the procedure, following which an ointment or petroleum jelly is to be applied to avoid scabs. Depending on the condition, the treated areas will heal within a period of 10 to 21 days.
  5. Swelling after skin surfacing is pretty common, and the doctor may suggest some steroids to control swelling around eyes. It is often advised to sleep with the head in an elevated position, while doctors also advise on using ice packs within the first two days.

Other things to expect

  1. The person may have itching sensations or even a feeling of stinging for the next 12 to 72 hours after laser resurfacing.
  2. Eventually, the skin will dry and scalp falls off in 5 to 7 days. Once the skin heals, the person can use oil-free makeup for reducing the skin redness, which is reduced in two months. The redness may last longer for people with fair skin. Dark skinned people usually have pigmentation issues, for which the doctor may suggest using treatment.
  3. The skin may appear to be light after the procedure. The person should use sunscreen that blocks ultraviolet A and B rays for protecting the skin in that period. A sunscreen formulated for the face should be used, with SPF of 30 or more. The skin should be protected to the best extent, and direct sun should be avoided in peak day hours.
  4. The skin should be well moisturized after skin resurfacing. Generally, doctors suggest glycolic acid based products, which should be used after the prescribed healing period.

Complications with Skin Resurfacing

While laser resurfacing has proved to be beneficial for improving the appearance of the skin, there are a few potential risks. These include,

  • Scarring
  • Burn or related injuries
  • Skin pigmentation problems
  • Sores and blisters
  • Infections owing to bacteria and Milia (which can be treated with medicines)

Talk to your doctor in detail before you consider laser skin resurfacing!