What You Need to Know About Laser Peels and Laser Skin Resurfacing

Beautiful Skin

27 Apr What You Need to Know About Laser Peels and Laser Skin Resurfacing

Using targeted laser light to reveal younger, brighter looking skin sounds futuristic, but this treatment technology has existed for about forty years. As technology improves, the treatments are more precise with shorter downtimes. Many people wanting younger, smoother skin will come across laser skin resurfacing. This treatment, also known as a laser peel, is considered to be a minor surgical procedure, which makes it important to understand the benefits and risks involved.

If you are considering laser skin resurfacing, you should understand what the treatment involves, what recovery is like, and whether or not you are a suitable candidate.

What is laser skin resurfacing?

Laser skin resurfacing is a method of removing imperfections on the skin. A laser is used to dissolve the skin until a more uniform, smooth layer of skin appears. Your dermatologist will use concentrated beams of light to send short pulses at problem areas to remove one layer at a time. The laser beam removes the epidermis, or outer layer of the skin, while heating the layer beneath called the dermis.

Ulmer and Wu Dermatology offers two methods laser skin resurfacing:

  • Fractionated CO2 – Fractioned CO2 laser skin resurfacing is the newest laser resurfacing option. It rejuvenates the texture and tone of your skin by quickly treating wrinkles, sun damage, acne scars, and other skin conditions. Results are typically noticeable after one Fractionated CO2 treatment.
  • Intense pulsed light – IPL is a non-invasive procedure performed over and several treatment sessions. A gel is applied to your skin and combined with pulses of light to address and minimize skin conditions such as blemishes, birthmarks, and skin imperfections. This treatment is also known as a ‘fotofacial’ and results in a youthful, glowing skin.

What can laser skin resurfacing be used for?

Candidates for laser skin resurfacing are people whose skin has been damaged by the sun, acne, or aging. It is a treatment suitable for:

  • Wrinkles
  • Crow’s feet
  • Liver spots
  • Warts
  • Birthmarks
  • Age spots
  • Enlarged oil glands on the nose
  • Acne scars and other scars
  • Sagging skin
  • Sun-damaged skin

People whose skin is affected by these problems and who have not seen improvement from gentler treatments are excellent candidates for laser skin resurfacing. If you have elastic, non-oily skin that does not scar easily, you are likely to be a suitable candidate (subject to a consultation with your doctor). People with active acne or very dark skin, however, do not usually make good candidates for laser skin resurfacing.

Those considering laser skin resurfacing treatments also need to maintain reasonable expectations for the outcome and understand the procedure limitations. Your doctor will be able to discuss the likely outcome of your unique laser skin resurfacing procedure to help you determine if this is the right treatment for you.

When successful, laser skin resurfacing can reveal brighter, younger, smoother-looking skin.

What to expect during treatment

A plastic surgeon or dermatologist will perform the procedure. If your whole face is being treated, you may need general anesthesia, but for smaller areas, the doctor may use a local anesthetic. A laser targets the pigment in skin cells, produces intense heat, and destroys the cell. Excess laser light will either be diffused or absorbed by the surrounding skin cells.

Treating small areas of the face can typically take 30 to 45 minutes, while the entire face can take up to two hours. You may be bandaged afterward and you will need to clean the treated areas several times a day and apply ointment to prevent scabs. You can expect swelling afterward and may be prescribed steroids to reduce the swelling.

Patients who have experience laser skin resurfacing have described the post-operative sensation as not painful but similar to having a sunburn.

What to expect during recovery

In the first 12 to 72 hours after the procedure, you may feel itching and stinging. Within five to seven days, your skin will peel. This is perhaps why some patients equate the healing process to having a bad sunburn.

In total, you can expect healing to take 10 to 21 days, depending on the problem being treated. Redness that appears afterward takes two to three months to fade.

Following laser skin resurfacing, your skin will appear lighter and it is particularly important that you are diligent about applying sunscreen to prevent skin damage.

Health risks involved with laser skin resurfacing

Although laser resurfacing involves no incisions, doctors consider it to be a surgical procedure because of its invasive nature. The recovery treatment is very taxing, which makes this a poor choice for people with compromised immune systems. People with lupus or Sjogren’s syndrome should not pursue this treatment.

Patients with active acne may be prone to infection caused by laser skin resurfacing. Cold sores and herpes simplex can also cause complications during healing. Smokers will need to stop two weeks before the procedure because it can prolong the healing process.

Other risks include:

  • Burns from the laser’s heat
  • Scarring
  • Changes in the skin’s pigmentation, which can leave it darker or lighter than before
  • Reactivation of herpes cold sores
  • Infection

Discuss laser skin resurfacings with a professional

If you’re considering laser skin resurfacing, give us a call at (562) 435-5621 so we can help determine if this is the right treatment option for you.


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