What are the steps of a laser skin resurfacing procedure?
For best results, your plastic surgeon may first start you on a series of skin treatments to prepare your skin for your laser procedure. Often these treatments begin 6 weeks or more before your scheduled procedure. These skin treatments are customized for your particular skin type to minimize complications and obtain the best result from your laser resurfacing.
Cosmetic laser resurfacing is usually done on an outpatient basis and typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
Managing your discomfort: Laser skin resurfacing can be painful. This is why your doctor may numb the skin with local anesthetics. You may also receive a sedative to help you relax. If you are opting for extensive resurfacing, or if you're having other cosmetic procedures simultaneously, your surgeon may use a general anesthetic. Afterwards, the doctor will provide painkillers to keep you comfortable. In preparation, your face will be thoroughly cleaned and you might be given eye protection.
Two types of lasers are commonly used in laser resurfacing: carbon dioxide (CO2) and erbium. Both work to vaporize superficial, damaged skin cells.
CO2 laser resurfacing
For year doctors have used CO2 lasers to treat various skin conditions. A newer generation of CO2 lasers has the power to deliver very short pulsed light energy (called ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams. This type of laser precisely removes thin layers of skin with minimal damage to your surrounding tissue.
Erbium laser resurfacing
This type of laser wrinkle removal is typically used to remove superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on your face, but can also be used on your neck, chest or hands.
After the procedure
After laser resurfacing is completed, your plastic surgeon will apply specialized dressing to protect the treated tissues. Further dressing changes or specialized topical treatments may be needed to enhance healing.