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Three Ways to Improve Laser Resurfacing Results

A very popular treatment patients seek at our office is CO2 laser resurfacing, particularly during the winter months. Many people aren’t happy with their skin texture or pigment issues as we age. Older patients may have been part of the “sun worship” mentality in the 80-90’s.

Now many of us have learned the drawbacks (and sometimes dangers) of excessive sun exposure—with increased incidence of skin cancer being the most feared one. But even if you don’t have any cancerous lesions, it’s likely you’re bothered by your skin texture. The natural question is what can you do to improve this?

There are several options, but the key is careful analysis to determine the best treatments. Treatments range from Botox or Dysport to injectable fillers to surgery to skin resurfacing. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on CO2 laser resurfacing. For many common complaints of fine skin wrinkling, sun damage, and pigment spots, facial resurfacing is a great option.

We like the CO2 laser because the precision and ability to control the energy levels and depth are unparalleled. Chemical peels can also achieve great results, but compared to CO2 laser, it’s a bit more of a blunt tool vs. the laser.

The CO2 laser we use employs the fractionated technology. This leaves behind micrometers of normal skin between laser spots, allowing quicker recovery and healing. But you must be prepared for some amount of downtime. Generally, your skin will be healed by five days, but your face will still be a bit red.

However, this redness fades and by two weeks, the majority of redness should be gone. You can cover any residual redness with some make up. Though CO2 laser is safe, there are some things you can do to maximize your results and recovery.

Pre-Treatment Protocol

First, depending on your skin type, you may benefit from a pre-treatment protocol. This usually consists of applying a compound mixture containing hydroquinone (a bleaching agent), Retin A (this achieves some degree of removing top layer of skin), and a steroid. Patients with darker skin type will benefit more compared to a fair skinned patient. You can start applying this one to two weeks before your treatment.

Home Care Post-Treatment

Second, it’s very important to take proper care of your skin in the immediate post treatment period. Your skin just got injured and must be properly taken care of in order to maximize the healing and results. We will give you simple home recipe for an acetic acid rinse to help clean the skin, especially when your skin starts to peel. It’s crucial you keep your face (treated areas) covered and moist at all times.

We just recommend covering your face with Vaseline or Aquaphor. Some doctors want you to cover this ointment with an occlusive dressing or mask. There is debate whether covering the ointment achieves better results. Another option to increase your recovery is to use Biafine, a special cream that recruits mast cells in your skin. These mast cells play a key role in skin healing, and many who take Biafine have reported much quicker recovery as well as decreased discomfort. If you’re interested, Dr. Yu can prescribe this.

Protection is Key

Third, it’s so important that you protect your treated skin from sun exposure. Sun exposure after any resurfacing will increase risks of scarring, hypo or hyperpigmentation. Once your skin is healed, it’s really important you use a good sunblock (at least SPF 30 or above) at all times.

Wearing a hat is also helpful. We recommend you do this for at least two months after laser treatment. But It’s also a good idea to continue this practice forever. Your great result will last longer if you do this. Also, to maximize your results, adding a medical grade skin repair product like Sente can definitely maintain and even improve your results.

CO2 laser resurfacing can be a scary thought. After all, you’re subjecting your face (the most visible and defining feature) to a burn. You have to be prepared to undergo a week or two of recovery. There are other lasers using different wavelengths or power that will have much quicker recovery.

Some even allow you to return to work the same day. But you also have to realize these lasers don’t achieve as dramatic results. At the end of the day, it’s all about matching your expectations and goals with what we can achieve.

Receive More Information

For more information about laser skin resurfacing, contact Dr. Kenneth Yu Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to schedule a consultation, or contact our Concierge Patient Coordinator at (210) 876-6868.