What to Expect After Skin Resurfacing

Certain physical changes are expected following laser resurfacing. Some individuals experience all of the following and others only some. The degree to which each person is affected is variable and unpredictable.

Intense Pulse Light and Nd-YAG laser treatments
Intense Pulse Light and Nd-YAG laser treatments may leave the treated skin slightly pink for up to an hours, but this generally fades quickly, and there is rarely any swelling. Desired changes in texture or color occur gradually over a few weeks and treatment can be repeated as soon as 3 weeks. Sun protection for the first 2-3 weeks after treatment is important with both modalities to ensure the best results.

Glycolic Acid Chemical Peel
After a glycolic acid peel, no special aftercare is needed. Make-up can be applied immediately. As the skin exfoliates over the next week, it may require more moisturizer. If you have been using any lotions or creams containing glycolic acid, these should be avoided for the first 48 hours after the peel.

Obagi Blue/TCA Chemical Peels and Laser Resurfacing
DIET- It is best to start with liquids (soup, juices, etc.) immediately after surgery. Once the anesthesia has worn off and your appetite returns, regular food is allowed.

SKIN CARE- It is important that treated areas be kept moist at all times. A thin, but complete, layer of antibiotic ointment should be applied to all treated areas and maintained 3 to 4 times a day. Wash your face with a gentle soap 3 to 4 times a day, pat dry and reapply the ointment afterwards. Continue this treatment until instructed by the doctor.

ACTIVITY AFTER SURGERY- In order to allow your tissues to heal properly, we ask that you refrain from brisk physical activity for one week. Walking and non-physical activities are allowed, but it is best not to exercise for the first week. After the first week, aerobics, running, stair climbing, exercise bicycling and treadmills are permitted, but weight lifting (free weights or machines) should not be done until after the end of the second week after surgery. However, once the effects of the anesthetics have worn off, it is not necessary to remain in bed or at home. You may shower as soon as the effects of the anesthetics have worn off and you can comfortably stand on your own.

FLAKING/OOZING/CRUSTING- Flaking and crusting in the treated areas is to be expected for 5 to 7 days (chemical peel) or 7 to 10 days (laser resurfacing). Do not pick at these crusts. Areas that show light pink skin no longer need to be covered with an antibiotic ointment like Polysporin. During these first 5 to 7 days (chemical peel) or 7 to 10 days (laser resurfacing), direct sun exposure must be avoided.

SKIN COLOR CHANGE- Once the crusting ends, the skin will be pink for 2 to 6 weeks (chemical peel) or 8-12 weeks (laser resurfacing). Once the crusting is gone, the pink skin can be covered with cosmetics. Your skin is extremely sensitive to the sun during this time period, and you must be extremely cautious about sun exposure. Direct sunlight must be avoided, and sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater should be used daily and reapplied often during the day. Hormone medications will also affect the pigmentation of the treated skin; please discuss this with the doctor before resuming these medications. Dark (tan or brown) coloration to the treated areas can be faded with a creme; it is important to begin this as soon as possible.

FEVER- You may experience a flushed sensation in the treated area, or all over, after the surgery, but a temperature greater than 101º is unusual.

SWELLING- Your face may become swollen for 2-3 days (chemical peels) or 7 days (laser resurfacing). This is normal. Elevating your head as much as possible will help reduce swelling and make you more comfortable.

PAIN- Your face may feel sunburned the night of the treatment. This resolves rapidly and, for most people, there is very little discomfort as the treated skin heals. You will be given a prescription for pain medication, although most patients need only Tylenol.

TIGHTNESS- Your face may feel tight during the initial healing period because of swelling. After your skin has healed it may feel more taut. This is normal and usually is not uncomfortable.

SUN SENSITIVITY- Your treated skin will always be more sensitive to the sun. Therefore, adequate sun protection in the form of wide-brimmed hats and sunblocks will always be necessary to avoid sunburn or skin irritation from the sun.

MILIA- Milia (tiny white bumps) may appear on your facial skin. These represent trapped oil glands. Observe these for 48 hours. If there is no improvement, they can be easily treated in the office.