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Laser Resurfacing

laser-resurfacingIn laser resurfacing, sometimes called “laser peel,” a carbon dioxide (C02) laser is used to remove areas of damaged or wrinkled skin, layer by layer. The procedure is most commonly used to minimize the appearance of fine lines, especially around the mouth and the eyes.

However, laser resurfacing is also effective in treating facial scars or areas of uneven pigmentation. Laser resurfacing may be performed on the whole face or in specific regions. Often, the procedure is done in conjunction with another cosmetic operation, such as a forehead lift or eyelid surgery.

It has been shown that in some cases, this surgical method produces less bleeding, bruising and postoperative discomfort and more impressive results than is typically seen with other resurfacing methods. This web site will give you a basic understanding of the laser resurfacing procedure, when it can help, how it’s performed and what results you can expect. It cannot, however, provide all the details which may be relevant to your particular needs. Laser resurfacing is performed using a beam of laser energy which vaporizes the upper layers of damaged skin at specific and controlled levels of penetration.

It’s clear that laser resurfacing may offer a number of advantages over other resurfacing methods: precision, little (if any) bleeding and less postoperative discomfort. However, laser resurfacing isn’t for everyone. In some cases, an alternative skin resurfacing treatment, such as dermabrasion or chemical peel, may still be a better choice.

All resurfacing treatments work essentially the same way. First, the outer layers of damaged skin are stripped away. Then, as new cells form during the healing process, a smoother, tighter, younger looking skin surface appears. Laser resurfacing is a new method being used by plastic surgeons to remove damaged skin. Because it is new, there are no long-term data on this technique. However, a number of studies using microscopic examination have shown that the physical changes that occur to laser treated skin are essentially identical to those that occur with either dermabrasion or chemical peel.

The Erbium laser produces exactly the same effects as these other modalities. The main difference with CO2 laser treatment is that in addition it produces significant contraction of the collagen fibres in the skin, tightening any loose or wrinkled skin to a marked extent. Erbium resurfacing does not produce such collagen contraction.

It’s also important, to consider the length of recovery when choosing among the skin resurfacing alternatives. In general, the more aggressive the resurfacing procedure is, the more prolonged the recovery is likely to be. “Light” resurfacing procedures, such as superficial chemical peels or superficial Erbium and CO2 laser resurfacing, offer shorter recovery times. However, these lighter procedures would need to be repeated multiple times to achieve results comparable to those achieved with more aggressive techniques.

laser8Men and women of all ages can benefit from laser resurfacing. The ideal patient for laser resurfacing has fair, healthy, non-oily skin.

Patients with olive skin, brown skin or black skin may be at increased risk for pigmentation changes no matter what type of resurfacing method is recommended. Your surgeon will evaluate your skin characteristics and make recommendations accordingly.

Also, individuals who have taken Roaccutane ( a drug used for acne) in the past 12-18 months or more are prone to abnormal (keloid like) scarring. Those with active skin infections on the treatment area may not be appropriate candidates for this procedure.

Remember, having laser resurfacing can help enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t completely remove all facial flaws or prevent you from aging. Lines that occur as a result of natural movements of the face -smiling, squinting, blinking, talking, chewing – will inevitably recur. Your surgeon can suggest ways to help you preserve your results by protecting yourself from sun exposure or using maintenance treatments, such as light chemical peels or medicated facial creams. Click on Skin Care for more information. Before you decide to have laser resurfacing, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

For superficial or medium resurfacing, the laser can be limited to the epidermis and papillary dermis. For deeper resurfacing, the upper levels of the reticular dermis can also be removed. Varied penetration allows treatment of specific spots or wrinkles.

surgeryWhen laser resurfacing is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, complications are infrequent and usually minor. However, because individuals vary greatly in their anatomy, their physical reactions and their healing abilities, the outcome is never completely predictable.

Risks associated with laser resurfacing include: burns or other injuries from the heat of the laser energy, scarring, and obvious lightening or darkening of the treated skin. Also, laser resurfacing can activate herpes virus infections (“cold sores”) and, rarely, other types of infection.

Additional corrective measures and treatment may be required if healing seems abnormal or delayed or if there is any evidence of abnormal pigmentation or scarring.

You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon who has undergone intensive special training in laser surgery, such as your surgeon.

Not every practitioner who offers laser surgery has the same level of experience and skill with laser use. Any doctor at all is able to set himself up as a “Laser Surgeon”, without any training whatsoever. Many general practitioners have done exactly that, perhaps purchasing membership of an obscure academy or institute. That is why it is especially important that you find a plastic surgeon who is adequately trained in the procedure such as your surgeon.

Find out whether your surgeon has privileges to perform laser resurfacing with a C02 laser at an accredited hospital. In your initial consultation, be frank in discussing your expectations. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Your plastic surgeon should be equally frank with you, explaining the factors that could influence the procedure and the results such as any abnormal skin condition which has been diagnosed or previously treated, medications you are taking or have taken in the past, previous skin injuries or previous operations.

Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, perform a routine examination and photograph the area to be treated. He will explain the procedure in detail, along with its risks and benefits, the recovery period and the costs.

Remember, cosmetic laser treatments can be expensive and are usually not covered by medical insurance. Your hospital fees may be covered by your private health insurance,you should ring them to confirm this. The Medical Benefits Fund (MBF) has withdrawn such coverage, but many other insurers will allow you to change over to them without delay or penalty. Ask your surgeon for details.

On some occasions, the procedure can be used for improvement of acne scars or other facial scars, or the removal of pre-cancerous skin growths. These conditions could meet the criteria for “medical necessity,” required by Medicare before coverage will be provided. Your surgeon can advise you how to determine whether benefits will be allowed in your case.

Depending on your individual needs, your surgeon may recommend that you begin a pretreatment plan to prepare the skin for resurfacing. Usually, pretreatment of the skin with creams for one to six months prior to laser resurfacing is recommended and appears to improve the result you will obtain.

At the time of the procedure, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for your skin immediately following your laser treatment. your surgeon may also instruct you to follow a specific maintenance regimen for long-term care of the skin to maximize the benefits of the procedure. Our highly qualified nurse aestheticians are here to help you through each

While you are making plans, be sure to make arrangements for someone to drive you home following your laser treatment and help you out for a day or so.

Laser resurfacing will be performed at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital. For cost containment and convenience, laser resurfacing is usually done as a day case. For the more extensive resurfacing procedures or for resurfacing combined with other surgical procedures, you may require one or more nights stay in hospital.

Laser resurfacing can be performed under local anaesthesia with sedation, especially when it’s used to treat small localized areas of the face. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort. For more extensive resurfacing, your surgeon may prefer to use general anaesthesia, in which case you’ll sleep through the procedure.

Laser resurfacing is a relatively quick procedure. It usually takes anywhere from one half to two hours, depending on how large of an area is involved.

When the wrinkles or scars are especially deep, your surgeon may advise that the resurfacing could require two or more stages. During the procedure, the activated laser is carefully passed back and forth over the skin until the level is reached that will make the wrinkle or scar less visible.

When the procedure is over, a dressing will be applied over the treated areas, which will cover and protect the healing skin for the first five to ten days.

recoveryYou are likely to experience some mild swelling and discomfort after laser resurfacing. However, this can be controlled with ice packs and medications. After about a week or so, your dressing will be removed and a thin layer of ointment may be applied to the skin.

Once this stage is reached, your surgeon will provide instructions on how to gently wash and care for your healing skin. Our nurse aestheticians can guide you through your changing skin care needs.

During this phase of healing, it is very important that you not pick the crusts off the treated area or scarring may result. Most patients are free of crusts by about 10 days post-operatively Redness will persist for at least two weeks and gradually fade over the next few months..

Your new skin will usually remain bright pink to red in the weeks following the procedure. After about two weeks or so, most patients can safely apply makeup to conceal this temporary colour change. Our nurse aestheticians can help you to conceal any remaining pinkness. Typically, pinkness lasts for 6 to 12 weeks. However, some pinkness may remain for up to six months.

Above all, in the months following treatment, it’s important to protect the treated area from the sun until all the colour has returned to normal. Using sun protection regularly will help to maintain your results and reduce the chance of any new sun damage to your skin.

If you must be in the sun, apply a strong sun block with an SPF of 30 (no less) and shade your face with a hat or visor. If resurfacing was performed around the eyes, it’s best to also wear good quality sunglasses with UVA and UVB 100 percent filters.