Once you have gone through a consultation visit with the doctor, the first session for your laser skin treatment will be scheduled. Before the day of your appointment, you’ll need to avoid taking aspirin or ibuprofen, because they can increase bleeding during and after the procedure. Avoiding sun exposure for several months before and after surgery is essential in order to achieve optimal results with laser skin treatments. On the morning of the procedure, do not apply any products or makeup to the area. Your doctor may provide additional pre-treatment instructions; if this is the case, read and follow them exactly as they are given.
The laser procedure will occur in the doctor’s office or in an outpatient surgical room. When you arrive for the session, the area to be treated will be numbed with a local anesthetic. The treatment session can take anywhere from a few minutes to two hours, depending on the area treated. If you plan to have your face and neck treated, the doctor may choose to split the procedure into several sessions to reduce the length of time you’ll need to sit in the doctor’s chair.
During the treatment session, the doctor will slowly pass a handheld laser device over your skin. The laser beam entering your skin will feel like a pinch, similar to the snap of a rubber band against your skin. This laser light is absorbed by the targeted tissue, and it stimulates collagen growth underneath the surface of the skin as well as removing the outermost layer of skin in a process that has been compared to the sanding of a tabletop.
Afterwards, your skin will be red and swollen for several days and may remain pink for up to several months. In some cases, the doctor may apply a protective ointment or bandage after the procedure. A scab may or may not form over the treated area. Follow your doctor’s treatment instructions carefully to minimize the risks of scarring or other complications. The full results of your treatment may not be apparent in the hours or days following the treatment session.
Many people choose to undergo several laser skin resurfacing sessions until they achieve the desired results, although depending on the severity of your skin conditions and your expectations, one treatment session may be enough. After the treatment session, you’ll want to visit your doctor for a follow-up session to evaluate the results and schedule additional treatments, if necessary. Usually, three to six treatment sessions are recommended, and some patients return a few years later for additional touch-up sessions.