Using The Power of Light For Dramatic Skin Rejuvenation
by Houston Plastic Surgeon & Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr. R. Lee Steely
Laser Skin Resurfacing effectively removes by vaporization (heat) the top layers of damaged and wrinkled skin around or under the eyes, forehead and mouth, or the full face, stimulating the formation of new, smoother, and more vibrant skin. Laserabrasion, as laser skin resurfacing is sometimes called, can also fade scars caused by acne. Depending on the type of laser and amount of surface skin removed, you may also see a noticeable improvement in skin firmness and tightness. Although recovery can be trying, overall the results are very dramatic.
The advantages of laser over other resurfacing methods (e.g. deep chemical peels and dermabrasion) include:
- EGreater precision at reaching target areas
- ELess bleeding and discomfort
- EIn some cases, shorter recovery time
Generally, the wrinkles caused solely by skin damage due to sun exposure and aging respond better than those caused by muscle movement such as smiling, frowning or squinting.
Your Laser Skin Resurfacing Consultation
During your laser skin resurfacing consultation, Dr. Steely will discuss the changes that you would like to make in your appearance and determine if laser resurfacing – or another type of skin resurfacing – is right for you.
Dr. Steely will need a complete medical history; tell him about any allergies you have, any history of unusual scarring, or any cold sores around the mouth (like herpes or shingles). Also, tell Dr. Steely if you have had previous plastic surgery, if you smoke, or if you take any drugs or medications.
Dr. Steely will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, its risks and limitations, and costs. He will make it clear to you that you must have patience for success as it may take several weeks for the pinkish glows to resolve. There are no shortcuts in laser skin resurfacing. Dr. Steely will encourage you to ask all the questions you have about the procedure.
Resurfacing of the skin with the CO2 laser is the gold standard of skin resurfacing. All other treatments such as fractional skin resurfacing and plasma resurfacing all are trying to mimic the results seen with the CO2 laser. The drawback of CO2 resurfacing is the downtime- expect a ten day to two week time period of significant raw treatment areas. CO2 laser skin resurfacing has little discomfort postoperatively, it is the appearance of the healing skin that precludes any social interaction.
Laser Skin Resurfacing Technology
Dr. Steely uses two types of lasers in laser resurfacing: the carbon dioxide (CO2) and the Erbium. Each laser light, vaporizes superficial, damaged skin cells and both types reduce the risk for the patient because they limit the amount of heat absorbed by the skin.
Co2 Lasers use very short-pulsed light energy (ultrapulsed) or continuous light beams that are delivered in a scanning pattern to very precisely remove thin layers of skin with minimal heat damage to the surrounding tissues; it is used for deep penetration. Recovery time from the procedure is up to two weeks.
Erbium Lasers are designed to remove superficial and moderately deep lines and wrinkles on the face, hands, neck, or chest. There is minimal burning of surrounding tissue and minimal side effects such as swelling, bruising, and redness. Your recovery time should be faster than with CO2 laser resurfacing – About a week in most cases.
If you have a darker skin tone, Erbium laser resurfacing may work better for you.
Preparing for Your Laser Skin Resurfacing
Preparation for laserabrasion or laser skin resurfacing begins two weeks before the surgery. Dr. Steely will give you comprehensive instructions on “What to Do and Expect” before and after your laser skin resurfacing procedure: how to prepare your skin with cleansers and ointments; what medications to take and when; what activities you should avoid and those you can engage in safely. Follow these instructions assiduously.
The Laser Skin Resurfacing Procedure
Dr. Steely will cleanse your face to remove oils from the skin. He numbs the area to be treated with a local anesthetic. (General anesthesia may be used when the entire face is treated.) He then passes the hand-held laser light device over the skin to vaporize the damaged outer layers. Dr. Steely can program the laser for various depths of penetration; deep penetration is used to remove deep scars, stubborn spots, and wrinkles. Finally, Dr. Steely may apply a protective ointment or bandage to the treated area. A partial-face laser abrasion takes 30-45 minutes and the full-face treatment takes 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
After Laser Resurfacing
Following laser resurfacing, it is critical for you to follow the “What to Do and Expect” instructions given to you to ensure success. These post-op instructions are very specific and detailed, providing detailed information on how the healing process should progress.
- EYou must apply antibiotic ointment frequently and take antibiotic and antiviral medicines daily for six to ten days.
- EStay out of the sun for at least 6 weeks
- EAfter two or three days, Dr. Steely will advise you to wash your face with a weak solution of vinegar and lukewarm water or a cleanser
- EHealing may take two weeks to three months, depending on the degree of laserabrasion
- EAfter a few days, makeup may be worn to camouflage the pink to red color, common after laser skin resurfacing.
- EGreen-based make-ups are particularly good as they neutralize the red.
- EOil-free make-ups are recommended after laser resurfacing.
- EThe redness generally fades in two to three months but may take as long as six months to completely disappear.
After healing is complete and you have followed the post-op protocol carefully, your skin will be vastly improved.
Contact Our Office
Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you’re interested in learning more about laser skin resurfacing. Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Steely will happily walk you through the entire process and answer any of the questions you have along the way. Your journey to the breasts you’ve always wanted begins with a consultation.