Lasers are the newest and fastest growing products in the medical market. They are tremendously useful in the field of plastic surgery, as well as many other medical specialties. They work by amplifying light radiation energy to specific wavelengths in order to best select for specific defects within the skin. The desired outcome is similar to that of chemical peeling; to remove the superficial damaged layer of skin and allow new “healthy” skin to replace it. Different lasers may be used to selectively target various lesions of the face. Some lasers are used for smoothing wrinkles, others for destroying vascular lesions or pigmented spots, and still others for hair and tattoo removal.
Reasons for choosing a laser treatment:
- Reduce facial wrinkles and remove fine lines (skin resurfacing)
- Remove sun-damaged skin
- Correct pigmentation problems
- Lighten acne or surgical scars
- Treatment of actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous) skin lesions
- Remove unwanted hair
- Remove tattoos
- Remove “spider veins” and vascular lesions
During a laser treatment, the patient lies comfortably on a procedure table. The target area is prepared in advance with specialized anesthetic or numbing cream. The surgeon then uses the laser’s handpiece to treat the desired area. The patient experiences a feeling of being snapped by a rubber band each time the laser is activated. Today’s lasers are extremely precise and the depth of penetration is carefully selected allowing for total control and ensuring the desired results.
Redness and mild swelling are expected after laser treatments. This lasts approximately 5-10 days. Pain is usually relieved with over the counter pain control, but sometimes oral pain medications are prescribed. Feel free to discuss the need for pain medication with the surgeon. Also, patients are given thick restorative cream to apply to the face several times daily. After a few days, the skin may begin to crust and flake away. Facial cream and moisturizer are continued until healing is complete. Makeup can usually be applied after 7-10 days. Patients who have recently used Accutane are prohibited from undergoing most facial procedures. Alert your doctor if you have used this medication within the prior 6 months.