Laser skin resurfacing is a procedure that uses lasers to create a new, smooth skin appearance.  The laser “ablates”, or destroys, the outer layers of skin which have been damaged by age, sun, acne, wrinkles, or pigmentation problems or spots.  The destruction of the older layers of skin prompts the body to generate a new layer of skin cells which are unaffected by the previous skin condition.  Some lasers may be inappropriate for darker skin complexions.

Reasons for Considering Laser Skin Resurfacing:

  • Reduce or remove facial wrinkles, creases, and lines.
  • Improve sun-damaged skin.
  • Correct pigmentation problems and spots.
  • Effectively treat scars from acne, birthmarks, moles, and tattoos.
  • Tighten skin that has lost elasticity due to aging.

General Procedure

First, the face is cleansed of oils in order to prepare for the laser procedure, and an antibiotic ointment is applied.  The laser is then used to ablate various layers of skin in a controlled manner until the appropriate depth of skin is reached.  This procedure is commonly performed with a local anesthetic, with or without sedation.

Recovery Process

Generally, post-operative instructions call for plenty of rest and limited movement in order to speed up the healing process and recovery time.  Antibiotic cream and bandages are applied to the affected area immediately following surgery in order to aid with the healing process, to minimize swelling, and to control the risk of infection.  The skin will be red and may ooze.  Some discomfort should also be expected.

Any pain associated with the surgery can be treated with oral medication. While complications are rare, patients can minimize potential problems by carefully following the post-operative directions.   Recovery time varies with the extent of the resurfacing and the number of procedures completed.


Detailed review and animation below:

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Laser Resurfacing Introduction

Laser resurfacing, which is also known as laser peeling, is an effective facial rejuvenation technique that can produce long-lasting results. Over time, factors such as sun damage, heredity, diet, and repetitive muscle movement contribute to the formation of lines and wrinkles in the face. Additionally, the development of pigmentation anomalies, such as “age spots,” or acne scars can cause skin to lose its smooth, youthful appearance.


Laser Resurfacing Treatment Areas

Laser resurfacing can be used successfully to reduce the appearance of facial lines such as forehead lines, crow’s feet, smile lines, and vertical lines around the mouth, as well as other inconsistencies on the face. Furthermore, laser resurfacing is often used in conjunction with other procedures such as eyelid surgery or a facelift.


How Does Laser Resurfacing Work?

During laser resurfacing, a high-energy beam of light is used to heat the dermis, which primarily stimulates the formation of new collagen, a protein responsible for providing structure and support in the dermis. The intense heat from the laser also causes the outer layers of the epidermis to peel away. As your skin heals following treatment, new skin cells develop, giving the face a smoother, firmer, more youthful appearance.


Laser Resurfacing Technique

Although there are several different types of lasers used in laser resurfacing, the most commonly used laser is known as a pulsed CO2 laser. Pulsed CO2 lasers work by producing short bursts of intense light. The beam of light is emitted from a small wand-like device that the physician waves across the treatment area. CO2 pulsed lasers are accurate and precise, which gives the physician control over how deep the laser beam penetrates into the skin. This allows the physician to customize the treatment based on the extent of wrinkle formation.


Laser Resurfacing Treatment

As the physician guides the wand over the face, the high-energy laser damages the outermost layers of the epidermis, which peel away as you heal. During this process, you will most likely feel a slight burning sensation. When switched to low-power, the laser heats the dermis, which stimulates new collagen production over time. This new collagen will improve the structure and elasticity of the skin.


What to Expect in the Short Term

Following the laser resurfacing procedure an ointment may be applied to your face to protect it during the initial healing stages. In this case, you will need to continue to apply the ointment for approximately one week. You can begin to apply cosmetics in approximately ten to fourteen days following the procedure.


What to Expect in the Long Term

You may experience minor pain and swelling for the first few days following the procedure. Your face may have a fine crust and a reddish appearance that lasts for approximately two to three weeks, respectively. It is important to realize that the redness indicates healing is taking place and new collagen is being formed in the dermis. While the majority of the redness will begin to fade in approximately two weeks, the healing process is gradual. Therefore, it is not uncommon for your skin to be slightly red for 1-2 months. 


Laser Resurfacing Results

You will most likely notice an improvement in your skin tone and texture as the redness begins to fade, but the final results from your procedure may not be evident for several months. It is important to realize that laser resurfacing does not prevent your skin from continuing to age, and new lines and wrinkles will slowly form over time. However, depending on factors such as the type of treatment, skin type, and the condition being treated, the results from a laser resurfacing procedure may last for several years.

This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to represent actual surgical technique or results. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a medical professional when you have a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking advice if you have read something in this printout.

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Redlands - Riverside - Mission Viejo
Laser, Medical, Surgical, & Cosmetic Dermatology

Southern California Dermatology, Dr. Ronnie Dawood, MD is a medical professional dedicated to Dermatology & Medical Aesthetics such as botox, restylane, juvederm, Skin Care, laser hair removal, laser Tattoo Removal, & more. Please come and visit Sublime Medical Aesthetics & Dermatology in Mission Viejo, Ontario or Riverside.

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