Laser Skin Resurfacing Side Effects and Recovery

Are you afraid to go under the knife? What about going under the light?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), laser skin resurfacing is on the rise, nearly doubling since the year 2000 – while facelift surgeries have been on the decline.

So if you’re a little weary of surgical enhancement, you’re not alone. Minimally invasive procedures like laser skin resurfacing are on the rise for good reason.

Laser Skin Resurfacing Recovery and Downtime

Significant recovery time is a huge deterrent for many patients considering cosmetic enhancement, which is part of the reason we’ve seen increased interest in laser skin resurfacing.

While most laser procedures offer phenomenal results with little or no down time –it’s important to understand the details of your recovery in advance. Ultimately the type of laser you choose as well as the condition you’re treating (e.g., fine lines, lax skin, sun damage, scars, port wine stains) will have a major impact on your recovery.

Ablative vs. Non-Ablative

Ablative lasers such as CO2 resurfacing actually remove the outer surface layer of skin, which means you’ll experience more significant improvements, but also more significant side effects during recovery. Non-ablative lasers like Fraxel resurfacing are far less aggressive. Instead of removing the outer layer of skin, they gently penetrate it to precisely target and destroy damaged or irregular skin cells. As a result, they require more treatment sessions to offer significant improvements.

Most Common Side Effects

Healing can take anywhere from 7 to 21 days, so no matter which treatment you choose, it’s likely that your skin will be sensitive after laser skin resurfacing.  Some common side effects include the following:

  • Stinging or skin itching
  • Skin redness and swelling
  • Skin irritation (similar to sunburn)
  • Skin discoloration
  • Extreme sensitivity to UV-exposure

Generally speaking, most of these side effects are temporary, but in rare circumstances, it is possible to experience more severe and sometimes permanent side effects such as scarring or changes in skin pigmentation. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks with you during a consultation and discuss your likelihood for developing them.

Image Credit: OlgaGogoleva

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