In our last blog post, we discussed the many benefits of laser skin resurfacing. Meeting with your surgeon is the vital first step in the process of attaining younger, firmer, more beautiful skin.
Once you’ve chosen your procedure (ablative or nonablative;) and the surgeon has performed it, what comes next?
Taking Care of Your Treated Skin
The most important thing you can do to take care of your newly-resurfaced skin is to follow precisely the instructions your cosmetic surgeon has given you.
Dr. Carey Nease and Dr. Chad Deal have performed thousands of laser resurfacing procedures at Southern Surgical Arts and will be able to advise you on the best way to care for your skin, taking into consideration the type of procedure, your skin’s condition and your goals.
Some good general guidelines for post-treatment care are listed below.
What to Expect
Your surgeon will place you on a course of antiviral medication prior to your procedure. This will help reduce the risk of developing a cold sore, which can sometimes happen after a laser procedure if you carry the virus that causes fever blisters. Following a laser skin resurfacing, your skin may feel rough or tight, and look reddened as though you have just acquired a fresh sunburn. Depending on the depth the laser penetrated, you may also experience some mild oozing and crusting.
Although your skin may itch, it is important not to scratch it. Interfering with the healing mechanisms of the skin will disrupt and ultimately delay your recovery—not to mention affect your final results. Since you want your beautifully resurfaced skin to shine through after your recovery—don’t scratch!
The First 48 Hours—Stage 1
Taking good care of your newly-treated skin in the first 48 hours after your procedure is essential. You can apply cool compresses of dampened, soft cloths but should never apply ice or ice packs to treated skin.
Cleaning the area several times a day with sterile saline water or a diluted vinegar solution will be both cooling and cleansing. Your surgeon will also prescribe a healing ointment for you to apply after cleansing.
Take any prescribed medication, such as antibiotics, as directed. You will also be able to take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for any mild discomfort you experience.
Stage 2 Healing
After the first two days, you can still apply cool compresses for comfort. You can also continue to take over the counter pain relievers if necessary, but your discomfort should be greatly reduced or gone by this time.
You will be given a stage 2 healing cream to begin applying at this point in your recovery. You should reapply every 4 to 6 hours to keep your skin moist. Saline water can be traded for a gentle cleanser—do not scrub your tender skin.
Remember, however tempting it may be, do not pick or scratch at itching or peeling skin. This can cause scarring or pigmentation problems.
Rejuvenated skin will fade from red to pink and will gradually return to your normal skin tone. This will take longer in fairer-skinned patients. Your skin will improve over the course of several months before you see the final results of your treatment.
One of the most important things you can do for your skin post-resurfacing is to protect it from the sun. Once your skin has finished its initial healing, you will need to apply a special sunscreen prescribed for your treated skin every day without exception.
You will also need to avoid sun exposure for 4-6 weeks after your procedure, covering your treated skin when you have to go outside, and using a wide-brimmed hat.
In many cases, sun exposure is the cause of much of the damage our surgeons treat with laser resurfacing. So not only do you not want to expose your tender skin to the harsh rays of the sun, you don’t want to undo your results before you get to enjoy them!
When you schedule a laser skin resurfacing treatment with Dr. Deal or Dr. Nease, they will spend time with you one-on-one discussing treatment options, the details of your procedure, and your recovery care instructions. The more informed you are, the more likely you are to be satisfied with your outcome.
Now that you know more about the ins and outs of laser skin resurfacing, we hope that you’ll feel more empowered when considering your treatment options. For more information, call Southern Surgical Arts at 423-266-3331 to schedule a FREE personal consultation.