How to Take Care of Skin That Has Been Treated With a Laser
Laser skin resurfacing, also called laser skin rejuvenation, is performed to help with a variety of cosmetic problems. Some include wrinkles, acne scars, sun spots, irregular pigmentation and blood vessels right at the skin's surface. Ablative (wounding) lasers are generally used by a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon to give the most dramatic results. Laser skin rejuvenation is a procedure that heats and destroys the outer layer of skin (epidermis), so your face will be very raw after the procedure and may blister or ooze. It's important to take care of skin that has been treated with a laser so infection and scarring do not occur.
Keep your skin protected. Immediately after an ablative procedure, your doctor will apply ointment to the treated area, as well as bandaging. Mayo Clinic experts say that depending on the extent of laser resurfacing, bandages may cover only a part of your face or wrap around your head. Bandaging is usually removed after one or two days. Meantime, follow your doctor's post-treatment plan for wound care to the letter. The American Academy of Dermatology notes that this might involve using special soaks and cleansing methods.
Keep the skin well moisturized while it heals. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter ointments and creams. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) says topical treatments are generally used for seven to 10 days after the procedure to keep the skin supple. During this time, crusting and swelling are to be expected.
Avoid infection. Mayo Clinic experts caution that picking at your skin can cause infection and scarring. If you have uncomfortable side effects such as burning or itching, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen according to your doctor's instructions. You may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to fend off infection.
Take it easy. The AAFPRS notes that your doctor may recommend temporary lifestyle adjustments, such as eating a soft diet and avoiding extreme temperatures and activities that might harm your skin.
Hold off on using makeup. Skin that has been treated with a laser can show residual redness for a month to four months and sometimes longer, says the AAD. Wait until new skin has emerged, completely covering the affected area, before you use make-up or a concealer, advises the Mayo Clinic. Usually, this is one to two weeks after the laser treatment.
Use sun protection. One of the most important components in prolonging the results of your laser skin resurfacing--as well as protecting your skin against further photoaging and skin cancer--is avoiding intentional sun exposure. Sun protection, which includes daily application of sunscreen, is particularly critical during the first year after laser skin resurfacing to avoid irregular pigmentation, says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
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