Damaged skin and wrinkles whether caused by age, sun exposure, heredity, lifestyle or acne can be improved with laser skin resurfacing. Laser resurfacing removes layers of skin thereby revealing a new, younger looking layer of skin underneath.
The laser can be used on the entire face or specific areas. Skin color is not necessarily a barrier to treatment though skin thickness and texture may determine whether you are a good candidate for laser resurfacing. The laser produces a tightening effect on the skin which can be very beneficial when used on the lower eyelid alone.
If you are having other facial cosmetic surgery such as a facelift or eyelid surgery you may be able to have laser skin resurfacing at the same time.
Dr. Waslen will assess your skin type and the extent to which you have sun damage, uneven pigmentation and skin imperfections since fine lines and deeper wrinkling or depressions will require different approaches to treatment.
Preparing for Surgery
2 Weeks before surgery
- Avoid all aspirin containing products, all anti-inflammitory medications (ie: Ibuprophen such as Advil or Motrin), all products containing 400 IU's of vitamin E and all herbal products. These products can increase bleeding both during and after surgery and may lead to increased post-operative bruising, swelling and recovery time.
- Stop or at least cut down on smoking. Smoking constricts small blood vessels causing delayed healing, increased scarring and increased recovery time.
- Begin taking a multivitamin tablet daily, which can speed healing and shorten recovery time. It is recommended to continue your multivitamin for one month following surgery.
- Arrange for transportation to and from surgery. You must have someone responsible pick you up and remain with you for a minimum of 24 hours. You cannot take a taxi home on your own.
- It is recommended to restrict activity for approximately 2 weeks following surgery. It is advisable to make arrangements for assistance.
- Avoid dental appointments 2 weeks prior to your surgery as well as 2 weeks post operatively.
- Arnica capsules or pellets can be taken orally starting 2 days before surgery and can continue for 5 days post op. This homeopathic medication can assist in decreasing bruising and swelling due to surgery.
24 hours before surgery
- Avoid alcohol or smoking.
- Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery (no water, no gum). If surgery is booked after 12 noon, clear fluids may be allowed up to 6 hours before surgery (ie: black coffee/tea, clear juice, water). Our nurse will advise you on this when you are given your time for surgery.
- Begin taking your anti viral medications 1 day before surgery.
Day of surgery
- Wear loose, comfortable button-up/zipper clothing (ie: jog suit, slip on shoes).
- Leave valuables at home (remove contact lenses, jewellery or piercing of any kind).
- Take any regular prescribed medications (ie: blood pressure medications) with a small amount of water.
The effect of skin resurfacing using a carbon dioxide (CO2) or Erbium YAG laser is similar to the results obtained using chemical peels and dermabrasion. The laser, however, removes skin layers by vaporization rather than with chemicals or sanding.
- Some pain and nausea can be expected. This can be relieved with anti-pain and anti-nausea medications. Take them as directed. If you are coming from out of town, please have these medications with you.
- Begin taking antibiotic medication once home from surgery and continue until the prescription is finished.
- Any bandages worn post-operatively should be comfortable and not too tight. Adjust as necessary.
- Use cold compresses 20 min on and off during waking hours. Use a facecloth soaked in ice water and drape over face. Never place ice directly on skin.
- Maintain a regular fluid intake during the day. Gatorade is a good option. Restrict fluids after supper; increased fluid intake will increase swelling.
- Rest is important to minimize pain, nausea and swelling.
- Try to maintain an upright sitting position at all times (ie: 25-45 degree angle) for the first 2-7 days post-op. This will assist in the reduction of post-operative swelling and speed healing time.
- Begin a light nutritional regime and increase food intake as tolerated.
- Take anti-pain medications with food to avoid an upset stomach. Begin taking antibiotic medication once home from surgery and continue until prescription is finished. Eat yogurt while taking antibiotics. If diarrhea occurs, stop antibiotics and call our office for further direction.
Call (403) 228-1313 if you have any questions or concerns.
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Post-operative Day 1
- You may remove the bandage and shower if you wish. Remove all gauze.
- Be aware of any unusual swelling or a sudden increase in pain. If either of these are noted, phone the office as soon as possible.
- Continue to maintain a regular fluid intake during the day, decrease after supper.
- Continue to maintain an upright position.
- Use cold compresses for 72 hours to decrease swelling (ie: ice cubes or ice chips in a bowl of cold water with facecloths).
- Be aware of decreased skin sensation. Do not apply excessive heat or cold to the operative areas.
- Do not smoke.
- Rest as much as possible.
- A nurse will call you by noon to assess how you are doing. At this time, you will be given further post-operative instructions as well as an appointment for your first post-operative visit.
Post-operative Days 2-7
- Continue to maintain an upright position.
- Gradually increase your activity level after 7 days post-operatively. As individuals, everyone's post-operative healing phases will differ. Generally speaking, gentle exercise may resume at 10 days with moderate exercise resuming after 3 weeks. It is advisable to abstain from a full exercise regime until 6 weeks post-operatively.
- Scar tissue (firmness or hardening of operative tissues) may increase up to 6 weeks with the resultant softening of the tissues.
- Approximately 75% of swelling will diminish within 3 - 4 weeks. Any remaining swelling can take from 6 months to 1 year to absorb.
- Best results are usually not seen until 3 months following surgery.
- The final stages of healing are usually not complete until 1 year post-operatively.
Facts & Risks
The risks of laser resurfacing are few but include infection or abnormal healing. If you have had allergic reactions or herpes, skin resurfacing can cause a recurrence of these conditions. Some patients form raised or thickened scars following the procedure. This response can be unpredictable.
Following laser resurfacing, you must avoid sun exposure until the redness of your skin has gone. In fact, it is better to avoid the harmful effects of the sun permanently with sun block and head coverings.
A scab may or may not form over the treated skin but you will be advised about this and cleansing your skin by our staff.
Camouflage makeup can be used within two weeks of resurfacing at which time you should be able to return to work.
Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk. It is important that you understand the risks involved with this procedure. An individual's choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, you should understand the potential complications.