If You're Considering Laser Resurfacing...
In laser resurfacing, sometimes called "laser peel," a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser or Erbium Laser is used to remove areas of damaged or wrinkled skin, layer by layer. The procedure is most commonly used to minimize the appearance of wrinkles and lines, especially around the mouth and the eyes. However, it is also effective in treating facial scars or areas of uneven pigmentation and precancerous lesions. Laser resurfacing may be performed on the whole face or in specific regions. Often, the procedure is done in conjunction with another cosmetic operation, such as a facelift or eyelid surgery.
Laser resurfacing has been shown that in some cases, this surgical method produces less bleeding, bruising and post-operative discomfort than is typically seen with other resurfacing methods.
A Word About the Laser
Laser resurfacing is performed using a beam of laser energy which vaporizes the upper layers of damaged skin at specific and controlled levels of penetration.
It's clear that laser resurfacing may offer a number of advantages over other resurfacing methods: precision, little (if any) bleeding and less post-operative discomfort. However, laser resurfacing isn't for everyone. In some cases, an alternative skin resurfacing treatment, such as dermabrasion or chemical peel, may still be a better choice.
All resurfacing treatments work essentially the same way. First, the outer layers of damaged skin are stripped away. Then, as new cells form during the healing process, a smoother, tighter, younger-looking skin surface appears. CO2 and Erbium Laser resurfacing is used by plastic surgeons to remove damaged skin. A number of studies using microscopic examination have shown that the physical changes that occur to laser-treated skin are essentially identical to those that occur with either dermabrasion or chemical peel.
For superficial or medium resurfacing, the laser can be limited to the epidermis and papillary dermis. For deeper resurfacing, the upper levels of the reticulas dermis can also be removed. Varied penetration allows treatment of specific spots or wrinkles.
It's also important to consider the length of recovery when choosing among the skin-resurfacing alternatives. In general, the more aggressive the resurfacing procedure is, the more prolonged the recovery is likely to be. "Light" resurfacing procedures, such as superficial TCA, Jessner and Glycolic chemical peels or IPL and ArticPeel laser resurfacing, offer little or no recovery times. However, these lighter procedures may need to be repeated multiple times to achieve results comparable to those achieved with more aggressive techniques.
The Best Candidates For Laser Resurfacing
In many cases, facial wrinkles form in localized areas, such as near the eyes or around the mouth. The laser can be precisely controlled so that only these specific areas are targeted. Your facial plastic surgeon will evaluate your skin characteristics during the consultation and make recommendations accordingly. Typically pre-laser skin care regimens are started at least two weeks prior to your procedure to 1, prevent pigmentation problems and 2, ensure optimal results. Individuals with dark skin will require evaluation. Individuals who have taken Accutane in the past 12 months may not be appropriate candidates for this procedure.
Remember, having laser resurfacing will enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't prevent you from aging. Lines that occur as a result of natural movements of the face - smiling, squinting, blinking, talking, chewing - will inevitably recur. Your facial plastic surgeon will suggest ways to help you preserve your results by protecting yourself from sun exposure and maintenance treatments, such as light chemical peels, medical-grade skin care products.
When laser resurfacing is performed by a qualified, experienced facial plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, because individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing abilities, the outcome is never completely predictable.
Planning Your Surgery
Not every practitioner who offers laser surgery has the same level of experience and skill with laser use. That is why it is especially important that you find a facial plastic surgeon who is adequately trained in the procedure.
One safety measure is to find out whether your surgeon has privileges to perform laser resurfacing with a CO2 laser at an accredited hospital. Even if the operation is to be conducted in your doctor's private facility, the fact that he or she has privileges to use that same laser in a hospital ensures that the doctor has been reviewed by the institution's experts.
In your initial consultation, be frank in discussing your expectations with the surgeon and don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Your surgeon should be equally frank with you, explaining the factors that could influence the procedure and the results - such as any abnormal skin condition which has been diagnosed or previously treated, medications you are taking or have taken in the past, previous skin injuries or previous operations.
Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, perform a routine examination and photograph the area to be treated. He or she should explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period and the costs. Should you decide to schedule the procedure; a pre-operative appointment will be scheduled to meet back with your facial plastic surgeon for review of the procedure, a history and physical, and for pre & post operative teaching that will include a pre-treatment plan to prepare the skin for resurfacing and specific instructions for post operative care.
After Your Treatment
You are likely to experience some mild swelling and discomfort after laser resurfacing. However, this can be controlled with ice packs and medications prescribed by your surgeon. You will follow your post operative instructions with cleansing and keeping the treated are well lubricated. It is very important that you not pick the crusts off the treated area or scarring may result.
Your new skin may remain bright pink to red in the weeks following the procedure. Your surgeon may prescribe medications to help any redness subside more rapidly. After 10 to 14 days, most patients can safely apply makeup to conceal any redness, we do suggest the glominerals makeup as it is safe from bacteria and has vitamins F,A,C,E, green tea extract and sunscreen. You will find your skin too sensitive for active skin care products. Your doctor will suggest a mild cleansing and moisturizing product.
Above all, in the months following treatment, it's important to protect the treated area from the sun until all the redness is gone. Using sun protection regularly will help to maintain your results and reduce the chance of any new sun damage to your skin. If you must be in the sun, apply a strong sun block with a physical block and an SPF of 15 or higher.