By Andrea Bickerton, M.D.
There are many options available today to help prevent, protect, and correct skin issues – but many times damage that has accumulated over the years requires the use of a laser to bring back the healthy glow and smoothness to our skin. Lasers of today have amazing technology that offer a safe way to correct a variety of issues and rejuvenate your skin. However, not all lasers are created the same or treat the same concerns and there are several things to consider before having a laser procedure done; below are a few questions you should be asking before having a laser skin procedure.
1. What is laser skin resurfacing?
Laser skin resurfacing is a medical procedure that uses intense beams of light energy to resurface skin, reverse signs of aging, improve skin tone/texture, reduce discoloration and reduce scars. Lasers can also be used on the body as well as vaginally to improve urogenital health and concerns.
2. Who can get laser skin resurfacing?
Almost everyone is a candidate for laser therapy, but you should have a thorough assessment by a licensed medical professional to determine the best, and safest, treatment for your particular skin and concerns.
3. Is laser resurfacing safe?
In the hands of a trained professional, and with the use of the best technology, laser treatments are safe. These are non-invasive procedures and are generally well tolerated with minimal to no downtime in most cases.
4. Does it hurt?
Depending on the laser treatment you choose there may be some discomfort, but it typically only lasts a few hours and your physician will advise you on the best ways to address any discomfort you may experience. A topical numbing cream is applied to the face before the procedure to reduce discomfort. Most physicians and patients describe the sensation during the procedures as something like a rubber band snapping on the skin or as being very warm.
5. How long does the procedure take?
This varies by the treatment you choose but typically it is around 1 hour.
6. How many treatments are needed?
This will vary based on how aggressive the treatment is. Some treatments may take several visits to achieve desired results.
7. How soon will I see results?
Results are typically seen within 7 days depending on the procedure. Less aggressive treatments will not have as drastic of a change as more aggressive treatments and may require several treatments to reach desired goals.
8. How do you prepare for laser resurfacing?
Avoid the sun for at least 2 weeks prior to treatment.
Have a complete evaluation with your physician and disclose all medications you are taking or have taken in the past 12 months, as well as your medical history. You may be advised to stop, or start, certain medications prior to your treatment as well.
9. How much downtime is expected?
Downtime typically ranges from less than one day up to 1-2 weeks; keep in mind that downtime does not mean that you must stay home, it simply means you may have redness, flaking, and/or swelling that may make you uncomfortable in certain situations.
You may need to avoid certain activities (i.e. swimming, strenuous workouts, etc.) while healing.
10. What are possible risks/side effects?
Despite being a non-invasive procedure there is still a risk for possible side effects such as: burning, swelling, redness, itching, infection, scarring, and pigmentation changes. By following your doctor’s pre- and post-treatment instructions and disclosing your complete medical history, the risk of these can be greatly reduced.
11. What should I do to maintain results?
Follow post care instructions provided by your physician
Maintain good skin care routine including the use of antioxidants and SPF daily; your doctor can also recommend an appropriate skin care regimen.
12. Who should not get laser resurfacing?
While most people can have some type of laser resurfacing, your doctor may recommend against laser resurfacing if you have an auto-immune disease, have taken certain acne medications, have a history of abnormal scar formation, have very dark skin, or have unrealistic expectations.
Laser skin resurfacing can address a variety of concerns and typically everyone is a candidate for at least one type of laser treatment. The most important thing is to be open and honest with your physician about your medical history and expectations and to follow pre-and post- procedure instructions. If you do these things you will be well on your way to reclaiming your healthy, beautiful, glowing skin and enjoying the confidence of knowing your skin looks amazing!
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