Laser Resurfacing, or Laser Peel
, is used to remove areas of damaged
or wrinkled skin, layer by layer.
Frequently Asked Questions.
How is the procedure performed?
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. 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.
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.
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.
How long does the procedure take?
Laser resurfacing takes anywhere
from a few minutes to one and a half hours, 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.
Is Laser Resurfacing permanent?
Laser resurfacing 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
How long is the recovery time?
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.
Will I need Anesthesia?
Laser resurfacing is most commonly performed
under local anesthesia with sedation, especially when it's used to treat
localized areas of the face. You'll be awake but relaxed, and will feel
minimal discomfort. For more extensive resurfacing, your surgeon may prefer
to use general anesthesia, in which case you'll sleep through the procedure.
Am I a good candidate for Laser Resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing can
be utilized on patients with facial wrinkles 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.
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
Also, individuals who have taken Accutane in the past 12-18 months, are
prone to abnormal (keloid-like) scarring, or those with active skin infections
on the treatment area may not be appropriate candidates for this procedure.
Before your procedure.
Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, perform a routine examination
and photograph the area to be treated.
Depending on your individual needs, your surgeon may recommend that you
begin a pre-treatment plan to prepare the skin for resurfacing.
At the time of the procedure, you will be given specific instructions on
how to care for your skin immediately following your laser treatment. Your
surgeon may also instruct you to follow a specific maintenance regimen for
long-term care of the skin to maximize the benefits of the procedure.
While you are making plans, be sure to make arrangements for someone to
drive you home if you will be given tranquilizers or sedation for your laser
After your procedure.
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.
If a bandage was applied after your procedure, it may be replaced with a
fresh one after a day or two. After about a week or so, your bandage will
be removed and a thin layer of ointment may be applied to the skin. Once
this stage is reached, your surgeon will provide instructions on how to
gently wash and care for your healing skin.
During this phase of healing, it is very important that you not pick the
crusts off the treated area or scarring may result. Most patients are free
of crusts by about ten days post-operatively. Redness may persist for several
Your new skin will usually remain bright pink to red in the weeks following
the procedure. Your surgeon may prescribe medications to make this color
subside more rapidly. After about two weeks or so, most patients can safely
apply makeup to conceal this temporary color change. However, some pinkness
may remain for up to six months.
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
Above all, in the months following treatment, it's important to protect
the treated area from the sun until all the color 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.