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Laser skin resurfacing, also known as a laser peel, laser vaporization and lasabrasion, can reduce facial wrinkles, scars and blemishes. Newer laser technologies give your plastic surgeon a new level of control in laser surfacing, permitting extreme precision, especially in delicate areas.
It's all about using beams of light. Your surgeon uses the laser to send short, concentrated pulsating beams of light at irregular skin. This removes unwanted, damaged skin in a very precise manner one layer at a time.
Laser skin resurfacing's targeted approach means there are fewer problems with hypopigmentation, or a lightening of skin, for procedures such as laser acne scar removal.
The laser beam used in laser resurfacing will remove your outer layer of skin, called the epidermis. It simultaneously heats the underlying skin, called the dermis. This action works to stimulate growth of new collagen fibers. As the treated area heals, the new skin that forms is smoother and firmer.
You may not be a good candidate for laser skin resurfacing if you have:
Patients with darker skin tones have a greater risk of healing with darker pigmentation (hyperpigmentation). This may be minimized by use of a bleaching agent after laser skin resurfacing as well.
Caution: In the wrong or inexperienced hands, laser resurfacing can be dangerous. In addition to seeking a doctor who is trained and qualified in facial plastic surgery, make sure the physician has specific experience with this type of procedure. Even though the laser therapy may ultimately be delivered by another healthcare professional in the surgeon's office, it will be with the surgeon's close supervision.
The average cost of laser skin resurfacing is $2,071 for ablative and $1,144 for non-ablative, according to 2018 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This average cost is only part of the total price – it does not include other related expenses. Please consult with your plastic surgeon's office to determine your final fee.
Laser skin resurfacing prices will be based on the expertise and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the type of procedure used, the time and effort the treatment requires, as well as geographic office location.
Most health insurance plans do not cover cosmetic surgery or its complications, but many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.
Be sure to ask your surgeon about all costs involved in your procedure.
Your satisfaction involves more than a fee.
When choosing a plastic surgeon for laser skin resurfacing, remember that the surgeon's experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the procedure.
Use this checklist as a guide during your laser skin resurfacing consultation:
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.
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.
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 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.
Skin that's treated with laser resurfacing may react in different ways. But most of the time, it will feel like a mild sunburn. You'll have some redness and swelling. You may also experience itching or stinging for a few days after the procedure.
Depending on the treatment, some people may have what looks like a severe sunburn. The skin will be raw, oozing and may even blister. A yellow liquid may ooze from treated areas to form a crust. Do not scratch or pick at crusts because this can cause scarring.
Usually, about five days to a week after laser skin resurfacing, your skin will become dry and peel.
You can expect that the treated area will peel. After that, the new, rejuvenated skin will be pink, but it will gradually lighten over two to three months. It may take up to a year for the pinkness to go away. It is very important to protect your skin during this time of healing. Redness tends to last longer in blondes and redheads.
You may resume application of Retin-A and/or glycolic acid products around six weeks after laser resurfacing or as directed by your physician.
CO2 laser resurfacing: Generally up to two weeks.
Erbium laser resurfacing: One full week.
Once your treated areas have healed, makeup may used to tone down the color. Try a green-based makeup to neutralize red color. Be sure to opt for an oil-free makeup.
It's possible that your skin may stay red or pink for up to several months after laser skin resurfacing. You may also be extra sensitive to sunlight for up to a year. Make efforts to minimize sun exposure and use that sunscreen liberally, every day.
Some people who have laser resurfacing may see an immediate difference in the treated skin. That will continue to improve for up to a year. While the effects of laser resurfacing can last for many years, the normal aging process means that wrinkles and expression lines will reoccur. You may repeat laser resurfacing as necessary.
Discover the art of the possible. Plastic surgery is an art, but it’s also a science. It’s the perfect blend between the two to provide the most beautiful results.
At Kawartha Plastic Surgery, it’s our passion.