What Are the Possible Side Effects of Laser Resurfacing?

Laser resurfacing of skin, like any other procedure carries along with it some possible risks and side effects. Some side effects are mild and go away on their own, whereas some side effects may last long and cause trouble. Side effects or risks associated with ablative and non-ablative laser resurfacing are usually different.

Who should not use laser resurfacing of skin?

Your doctor may recommend you against going for laser resurfacing (because laser resurfacing is not for everyone), if you have following:

  • If you are diabetic your doctor may recommend you not to use laser resurfacing
  • Your doctor may also recommend not to use laser resurfacing if you have weak immune system, any autoimmune disease or connective tissue disorder
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • If you have history of radiotherapy in or near face
  • If you have taken isotretinoin for treatment of acne in past one year, your doctor will recommend not to use laser resurfacing
  • If you have tendency of keloid formation, you should not use laser resurfacing

Side effects of ablative laser resurfacing:

Ablative laser resurfacing has comparatively higher rate of side effects than non-ablative laser resurfacing. They are,

  • Scar formation: there is risk of permanent scar formation if you use ablative laser resurfacing
  • Acne: if you already suffer from acne there is risk of worsening of acne during recovery, because thick cream and bandages may be required during recovery phase.
  • There may be swelling, redness, itching may occur after ablative laser resurfacing. Itching and swelling generally do not last long, however, redness may last for several months. Redness of skin after laser resurfacing depends on the depth of resurfacing done, the deeper the resurfacing the more intense is the redness and the longer it lasts. If you have preexisting skin condition such as dermatitis, redness may be more intense.
  • Infection of skin by virus, bacteria or fungus may occur after ablative laser resurfacing. Most common is flare up of herpes virus, which may be dormant.
  • Ectropion or turning out of eyelids (and exposure of innerside of eyelid) may occur rarely after laser resurfacing. This may need surgical correction.
  • Change in skin color may occur after laser resurfacing. The skin may become darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation). Dark individuals tend to get darker skin, which usually go away on its own.

Side effects of non-ablative laser resurfacing:

Side effects after non-ablative laser resurfacing are usually less common and may include,

  • Mild redness and swelling may occur after non-ablative laser resurfacing, which usually go away within few days.
  • Scar formation may occur, which is generally not severe.
  • Blister formation may occur sometimes.
  • Skin may become darker (hyperpigmentation), if you have dark complexion. This is temporary and go away on its own.
  • Infection by virus (flare up of herpes virus) may occur occasionally.


Image courtesy of [Praisaeng] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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