Types of Laser Resurfacing

Before undergoing laser resurfacing of skin (mainly face) your doctor will follow certain steps, such as review your medical history, do a physical examination and consult you regarding your expectations from the procedure and risks involved in laser resurfacing of skin. In your medical history you should inform your doctor about all the medical procedures you underwent prior to this (especially if you have undergone any cosmetic procedure in skin/face), or if you are currently taking any medications or if you suffer from any medical ailment.

Your doctor will do a physical examination to determine tone of your skin, elasticity or thickness of skin, which can help in assessing the outcome of the procedure (laser resurfacing of skin) and it can help you decide to use the procedure or not.

You should follow certain things if you decide to undergo laser resurfacing, such as

  • If you have decided to use laser resurfacing of skin (ablative or non-ablative laser resurfacing) and if you have history of herpes infection around your mouth there is high risk of flare up of herpes after undergoing laser resurfacing. To prevent such flare up it is important to take antiviral medication before and after the procedure. Your doctor may also give you antibiotic course to prevent bacterial infection, if there is any risk of developing infection after the procedure.
  • Avoid exposure to sun too much at least for two months prior to laser resurfacing. Because it can lead to irregular pigmentation after the procedure. Discuss your doctor about sun protection you need before laser resurfacing.

No-ablative laser resurfacing:

This can be done in your doctor’s clinic. After cleaning the treatment area, your doctor may apply local anesthetic to numb the area. The surrounding area is protected by using cryogen spray, water based gel etc. from the laser rays during treatment. The procedure cause damage to collagen tissue in skin which regrows during recovery period, which lead to tightening of skin and improves appearance. The whole procedure takes 15 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on technique used and surface area of treatment. The same procedure may have to be repeated several times over months for full benefit.

Ablative laser resurfacing:

It is done as outpatient procedure. For the procedure, your face will be cleaned, and made numb using local anesthesia (for doing large area you may be sedated). In this procedure strong laser rays are used, which destroy upper layer of skin (epidermis) that is made up of dead skin cells. During the procedure the deeper layer of skin (dermis) get heated and cause collagen fibers to shrink. During recovery/healing, new collagen fibers grow and cause skin to be tight and smooth. The procedure take 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the surface area treated and technique used. After the ablative laser resurfacing skin will become red, swollen, and it may take several months for full recovery.


Image courtesy of [photostock] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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