Unveil the essential facts about laser skin resurfacing, from timing considerations to choosing the right treatment for your skin type.
Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that aims to reduce wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and other skin blemishes while tightening the skin and improving its tone. However, with the wide range of laser devices and methods available, it can be overwhelming to research the treatment. To help you make an informed decision, here are some key points to know about laser skin resurfacing:
Consider your goals and skin concerns
Instead of getting caught up in brand names, focus on the specific skin problems you want to address and the results you hope to achieve.
Autumn is often considered the ideal time for laser skin resurfacing. Since laser-treated skin is sensitive to sun exposure, undergoing the procedure during fall or winter months, when you spend more time indoors and the sunlight is less intense, is recommended. Regardless of the time of year, daily use of broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen is essential to protect your skin and maintain the results while preventing premature aging and skin cancer.
Sensation and pain levels vary
The sensation experienced during laser treatments can differ depending on the type of laser, treatment depth, treatment area, and individual pain tolerance. Deeper ablative treatments may require local anesthesia or sedation, while non-ablative treatments may only require a topical numbing cream. Some post-procedure tenderness is expected, but your provider will guide you on managing any discomfort.
Laser resurfacing is possible for darker skin
Contrary to a common misconception, laser resurfacing is not limited to light skin types. While certain lasers may carry a higher risk of discoloration for darker skin, safe and effective resurfacing options are available. For lighter-toned African American, Hispanic, or Asian skin, Erbium laser resurfacing can be a suitable choice. Patients with darker brown or black skin may need to explore alternative options like radio-frequency treatments or microneedling. Consulting with a provider experienced in treating diverse skin types is crucial for safe and effective treatment.
Choose a skilled professional
The expertise and qualifications of the person performing your laser skin resurfacing are crucial. Opt for a provider who has extensive training and experience in laser resurfacing procedures, rather than solely focusing on brand names or the best deal. Board-certified cosmetic surgeons, especially those certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS), have undergone rigorous training that includes laser skin resurfacing. You can use the ABCS Find-A-Surgeon Tool to locate qualified cosmetic surgeons near you.
Considerations for medications and conditions
It's essential to disclose your medical history, medications, and supplements to your provider. Some conditions or medications can affect how your skin reacts to laser treatment. For example, laser treatments may induce breakouts in individuals prone to cold sores or fever blisters. Acne medications containing isotretinoin can affect healing and scarring. Certain over-the-counter products like aspirin can increase the risk of post-procedure bleeding. Chronic conditions such as diabetes may impact safety and results. Quitting smoking at least two weeks before and after laser treatments is also advisable for optimal healing and results.
Multiple treatments may be needed
While some cases may require only a single laser treatment, most non-ablative lasers necessitate a series of treatments to achieve optimal results. This trade-off is associated with shorter downtime, and the results tend to be long-lasting.
Downtime and recovery vary
Laser treatments are generally considered non-surgical, but the amount of downtime varies based on the laser type, individual health, and healing rate. Non-ablative lasers often require no downtime, while ablative lasers may require a 2- to 3-week healing process, during which the skin will be