From the beginning of time, people suffering from the disfigurement of facial scarring have searched for ways to improve these imperfections. Thanks to refinements in a variety of cosmetic surgical techniques, there are several safe, effective procedures available today to improve facial appearance, including laser resurfacing. Laser resurfacing is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon vaporizes the various layers of skin. This procedure improves the contour as a new layer of skin replaces the vaporized skin. The new skin has a smoother appearance. Laser resurfacing can be used to improve acne scars, pox marks, fine lines and wrinkles, and sun-damaged skin. A carbon dioxide laser that emits bursts of radiation is used for this procedure. The unwanted tissue is vaporized one layer at a time through energy pulses absorbed by water in these cells. For some, laser treatment is a better alternative than other skin resurfacing treatments such as dermabrasion due to the quick recovery time, no bleeding, and less pain. However, laser treatments cannot be used for all skin types and conditions and only minor skin imperfections are corrected with the laser. Laser resurfacing used in conjunction with dermabrasion can produce optimal results for some.

THE PROCEDURE

Laser resurfacing can be done in the physician’s office facility or an outpatient surgical facility, under a local anesthesia. The area is cleansed and the laser is scanned over the skin imperfections. Vaporizing of the skin continues up to the safest level in which the scars are less visible. An ointment or a cream may be used to cover the treated area.

AFTER SURGERY

For a few days, the skin feels tight and some swelling may occur. Medications may be prescribed to alleviate any discomfort the patient may have. Healing usually occurs within seven to ten days. The newly formed skin, which is pink at first, gradually develops a normal appearance in about four to six weeks. Make-up can be used as a cover up as soon as the crust is off. Most patients can resume their normal occupation ten to fourteen days after the dermabrasion. However, unnecessary sunlight exposure must be avoided for three to six months after the procedure and sunscreen must be used on a regular basis when outdoors.

RISKS

Complications from laser resurfacing are rare if done by a qualified surgeon, but as with any surgery risks do exists. Burns from the laser, scarring, or change in skin tone are some minor problems that are associated with this procedure. However, following directions given by the physician can minimize these complications.