It seems as though a number of factors are working together to damage your skin: the sun, your diet, your genes and any habits you have. Plus, past skin problems, such as acne, can stick around well into your adult years, in the form of scars. While it may seem as though the world is conspiring against your skin, there is a treatment that can help tackle a number of problems. Laser skin resurfacing can help improve the look of your skin. Although the treatment has been around for decades, it’s evolved over time. These days, it’s possible to find a laser treatment that best suits your skin concerns.
What Do Lasers Treat?
Lasers can treat a wide range of skin concerns, including lines and wrinkles. Depending on the strength of the laser, the treatment can be useful for very fine lines or for more deep-set wrinkles. Lasers also help treat a number of scars, such as raised scars created by acne or chickenpox, as well as scars from surgery or from an injury.
Laser skin resurfacing can improve the appearance of skin that’s seen extensive sun damage. For example, it can help erase areas of hyperpigmentation, such as sun spots. It can also remove hyperpigmentation related to hormonal changes or pregnancy. The treatments can help smooth skin and improve its overall texture.
Is There More Than One Type of Laser?
Nowadays, there are several different types of laser treatments. They vary in terms of what they do to the skin and in terms of how deep they penetrate. One type, known as an ablative laser treatment, damages the top layer of skin, which encourages the production of new skin cells. An ablative treatment is commonly used when a person has deep wrinkles or significant texture issues.
Another type of laser treatment is known as a fractional laser. While an ablative treatment focuses on the entire surface of the skin, a fractional laser treatment focuses on just one small section. The laser beam is focused on one small area and penetrates deep into the skin. Instead of damaging the epidermis, a fractional laser focuses on stimulating the production of collagen beneath the surface of the skin.
A third type of laser treatment, known as a microlaser peel, is the most superficial treatment option. It’s ideal for patients who only have a mild amount of sun damage, very fine lines or some areas of hyperpigmentation.
Will It Be Painful?
You may feel some discomfort after a laser skin resurfacing treatment. To minimize any pain or discomfort, your surgeon may prescribe pain medication. You’ll also most likely be given an ointment to put on your skin to soothe it and help speed its recovery. Washing the skin as directed and using the ointment will reduce discomfort. During the procedure itself, you may be given a sedative or a topical anesthetic to numb the skin so that you don’t feel anything.
What Is the Recovery Like?
The amount of recovery time you need after a laser treatment depends on the type of treatment you’ve had. You may need just a few days to recover from a superficial peel, for example. Deeper laser treatments may require up to 14 days of downtime. You may need to wait longer before you start working out again.
After a laser skin treatment, it’s common and expected for the treated skin to be red and swollen. There may be crusting as the area heals. Usually, it will take a few days to a week for a new layer of skin to develop. Depending on the depth or type of treatment, you may experience redness for up to a month after the treatment. In some cases, it can take up to six months for you to see full results from the treatment.
As your skin heals after laser skin resurfacing, you’ll want to do your best to protect it. Avoid direct sunlight immediately after the treatment. After that, always wear sunscreen when going outdoors. Your habits in the weeks after treatment can impact the healing. If you smoke, your surgeon will ask that you quit for at least a few weeks before and after the procedure.
Is This the Right Procedure for Me?
Laser skin resurfacing isn’t right for everyone. Your surgeon will review your overall health, habits and skin type before recommending it. Since the treatment does cause changes to the pigment of your skin in some cases, your surgeon may or may not recommend it based on your skin tone. People with darker skin may experience pigmentation changes after laser skin resurfacing.
Dr. George Bitar and Dr. Robert Centeno offer laser skin resurfacing to patients at the Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute near Washington, D.C. To learn more about the treatment, contact the practice by calling 703-206-0506 to schedule a consultation today.
George Bitar, MD, FACS is an award-winning, board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon, the Founder and Medical Director of Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Virginia. He specializes in the latest surgical and minimally invasive techniques to scar management and reduction. Dr. Bitar is involved in groundbreaking research and education in plastic surgery and has authored numerous articles, abstracts, and chapters.