After the laser resurfacing, a topical antibiotic is applied and the area is covered with a light dressing. When larger areas of the face are treated with a laser, a head wrap or a mask type bandage may be used. In most cases the mask bandage or head dressing is removed within 24-48 hours after the procedures.
The dressing serves to protect the skin and decrease the swelling.
Once the dressing is removed, the skin texture will appear rough and dry. To prevent excessive dryness, it is recommended that one apply an oil based moisturizer on a regular basis.
Until the redness and facial swelling subside, it is recommended that one not drive, go out in the sun or resume sporting activities.
Most individuals will see the new skin grow within 7-14 days.
Cosmetics can be applied to cover any residual redness or skin blemished after the laser procedure.
When extensive laser resurfacing has been done, the skin may continue to be red or pink for several months after the procedure
One must avoid the sun. Regular and frequent application of a sunscreen (SPF>20) is highly recommended, otherwise severe skin discoloration may occur.
With time, the condition of the skin will progressively get softer and texture will become smoother. This may take anywhere from 6-12 months.
Even though the laser is touted as permanent cure for wrinkles, this is not true. With age, the wrinkles and facial lines will re appear and maintenance laser treatments will be required to maintain the cosmetic effect
Complications after laser treatment are rare but can and do occur. The most frequent complications include:
- Skin discoloration. This may be either excessive lightening or darkening of the skin. The skin discoloration usually becomes obvious at the end of 3-4 weeks. Individuals with dark skin are more prone to these complications.
- Re activation of a herpetic infection is a side effect of laser therapy. A few days after the laser, one may notice painful vesicles around the lips and mouth. These attacks are most common in individuals who have already had prior attacks of herpes infections. In these individuals, prior treatment with an anti viral medication such as acyclovir may help reduce the incidence of herpes infection.
Other rare complications include:
- In individuals who have active acne and undergo laser, the acne may be worsened
- Excessive dryness of the skin
- Infection of the skin
- Scarring of the skin
The majority of these complications are rare and usually never occur after minor laser resurfacing. The complications are generally seen when extensive laser procedures are done on the face.
The latest generation of lasers are safe and have a much lesser incidence of complications. These less powerful lasers produce less side effects, but their effectiveness is also much reduced. Hence, to achieve the best cosmetic result, most individuals require multiple therapies and the results take slightly longer to appear
Laser is best to treat the minor skin lines around the lips and mouth. Deep wrinkles and creases can not be reversed with laser.
Permanent facial lines of expression are best left alone as there are no good methods to treat them.