Laser Resurfacing is also known as: Skin Rejuvenation
What is laser resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing is performed using a beam of laser energy, which vaporises 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. Because it is new, there is no long-term data on this technique. However, 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. Ask your plastic surgeon about the latest facts concerning long-term follow-up.
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 chemical peels or superficial laser resurfacing, offer shorter recovery times. However, these lighter procedures may need to be repeated multiple times to achieve results comparable to those achieved with more aggressive techniques. View our FAQs to find out more
Is it safe?
Patients with olive skin, brown skin or black skin may be at increased risk for pigmentation changes no matter what type of resurfacing method is recommended. Your plastic surgeon will evaluate your skin characteristics and make recommendations accordingly.
Individuals who have taken Roaccutane in the past 12-18 months or are prone to keloid-like scarring or those with active skin infections on the treatment area may not be appropriate candidates for this procedure. With laser resurfacing complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, because individuals vary greatly in their skin complexion and degree of ageing or sun damage, the outcome is never completely predictable.
Risks associated with laser resurfacing include: burns or other injuries from the heat of the laser energy, scarring, and obvious lightening or darkening of the treated skin. Also, laser resurfacing can activate herpes virus infections (“cold sores”) and, rarely, other types of infection. Additional corrective measures and treatment may be required if healing seems abnormal or delayed or if there is any evidence of abnormal pigmentation or scarring.
Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, perform a routine examination and photograph the area to be treated. He will explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period and what to expect.
Remember, having laser resurfacing can help enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t completely remove all facial flaws or 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 plastic surgeon can suggest ways to help you preserve your results by protecting yourself from sun exposure or using maintenance treatments, such as light chemical peels or medicated facial creams.
Before you decide to have laser resurfacing, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon. A computer simulation software package allows the surgeon to give you an idea of what your skin will look like through the healing phase.
Preparing for the laser procedure
You will be given specific instructions on how to care for your skin by our skin therapist prior to and immediately following your laser treatment. Your therapist will also instruct you to follow a specific maintenance regimen for long-term care of the skin to maximise the benefits of the procedure. If you are prone to cold sores, antiviral prophylaxis may be recommended.
Laser resurfacing is performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure takes up to ½ an hour, depending on how large of an area is involved. When the imperfections are especially deep, your surgeon may recommend that the resurfacing be performed in two or more stages. During the procedure, the activated laser is carefully passed back and forth over the skin until the surgeon reaches the level that will make the wrinkle or scar less visible.
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. The treated area will be left exposed. The face is washed twice daily and an emollient is applied to prevent excessive drying of the skin.Most patients are healed by about 7 days. Redness may persist for several weeks, especially with deeper C02 resurfacing.
Getting back to normal
Your new skin will usually remain bright pink to red in the weeks following the procedure. After about two weeks or so, most patients can safely apply makeup to conceal this temporary colour change. However, some pinkness may remain for up to six months. Though it is rare, some patients may find that their healing skin is unusually sensitive to the makeup that was regularly used prior to treatment. In such instances, makeup should be avoided until a substitute can be found or until the healing progresses to a point at which the makeup no longer causes a reaction.
Above all, in the months following treatment, it’s important to protect the treated area from the sun until all the colour has returned to normal. 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 an SPF of 15 or higher and shade your face with a hat or visor. If resurfacing was performed around the eyes, it’s best to also wear good quality sunglasses with UVA and UVB 100 percent filters.