Laser skin resurfacing has rejuvenated the skin care industry, not to mention millions of faces. Compared with harsh chemical peels and heavy dermabrasion procedures, lasers are noninvasive and have reasonable recovery times. Because laser technology has come a long way in the last decade, people don’t always know the latest, leading to myths and misinformation. Here are six things you should know if you’re considering laser skin resurfacing.
Your skin will be extra-sensitive to sun exposure for about a year after laser skin resurfacing, so here in New York, you may want to choose autumn for your procedure. Short days and less time spent outside reduce your need to diligently apply sunscreen to protect your revitalized skin. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF value of 30 or higher is a good idea at any time of year, to protect against both skin cancer and the aging effects of excessive sun exposure.
In the early days of laser resurfacing, treatments favored the fair-skinned; people with darker complexions didn’t get the same results. That was then, because adjustable wavelength lasers help people with darker skin. Extremely dark skin may still not respond, but if you’re unlikely to benefit from laser skin resurfacing, I’ll let you know before we begin.
Laser skin resurfacing isn’t a single treatment that’s the same for anyone. The choice of lasers must account for both your skin type and your treatment goals. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the appearance of scars and wrinkles, for example, a CO2 laser may produce the best results. Skin pigmentation issues tend to respond well to other types of lasers. The strength of treatment may vary as well, just as dermabrasion and chemical peel treatments vary.
While many laser treatments have little discomfort associated with the procedure, the type of laser skin resurfacing you’re receiving dictates what you’ll feel. The pain/no pain dividing line usually falls between ablative and non-ablative procedures. In most cases, the treatment itself feels like repeated snaps of a rubber band that most tolerate well, but ablative treatments take off outer layers of skin. That recovery may be more painful.
Again, the dividing line generally falls between ablative and non-ablative procedures. While skin resurfacing done with lasers is not surgical, many more intensive treatments achieve their results by controlled damage of older skin to start new growth, taking flaws such as lines, wrinkles, and discoloration away and replacing them with smoother, tighter skin tissue. These aggressive treatments may create rawness in the short term as your new tissue develops.
There’s just no substitute for knowledge and experience. While cosmetic lasers are an amazing advance, they still must be used with care. That’s why laser skin resurfacing done in a medical practice such as mine makes a difference. I can identify the reasons behind the skin conditions that you want treated, which is a great way to match procedure to outcome. I’m a plastic surgeon so I know skin, how it responds, and what’s necessary to make the most of your laser skin resurfacing.