As you may know, aesthetic medical lasers are powerful enough to reverse prior skin damage caused by factors such as the sun and aging. These advanced lasers accomplish this task by resurfacing the outer layer of the skin
The same lasers can additionally penetrate further into the skin to, for example, permanently prevent particular hairs from growing any further. Also underneath the skin, the lasers can help create new collagen, giving our skin strength and elasticity.
However, just like any other medical procedure, laser therapies have a whole list of do’s and don’ts that you need to know both before and after you undergo such a treatment. Below is a list of some of the things you need to (or might want to) know before having a laser treatment:
1.) You will have the area treated with a numbing cream before your procedure. With almost all laser treatments, I will have the patient apply a topical numbing cream to the skin area that will be treated. This pre-treatment cream will make the experience much more comfortable. While this manuever will not eliminate all pain, it will make any pain experienced much less intense, especially in procedures such as facial and bikini hair removal and spider veins on the legs.
2.) Not all lasers are created equal. Even though many people think a laser is a laser, lasers come in multiple different levels of intensity depending on the treatment. Less intense levels of laser are used for very superficial issues, such as mild pigmentation from sun damage. More heavy duty lasers are used for deeper skin problems such as scarring. During your consultation for your particular skin issue, you will be told the choice of laser for your problem, the implications of the treatment, and how many treatments may be needed.
3.) Winter is a great time to have laser treatments. When your skin is treated with a laser, it needs to be protected from the sun immediately afterwards and for at least the following several weeks while the treated area recovers. Therefore, the winter is the optimal time to be treated for many laser procedures. Most areas will be covered up by winter clothing anyway, and the sun in the winter is not as strong as it is in the summer.
4.) There may be some downtime with some laser procedures. I define downtime as the amount of time that it takes your skin to return to normal after a laser treatment. Generally, the more invasive or intense the laser procedure, the longer the downtime.
At Maine Laser Skin Care, our Fraxel skin resurfacing procedure has the longest downtime, with redness and peeling lasting for up to a week after the operation. However, after that week, the skin looks remarkably better and smoother.
In general, most laser procedures that we perform day to day have minimal to no downtime. Frequently, patients can leave our office and go back to work, go shopping, or out to eat without any hindrance or difficulty.
5.) After any laser procedures, it is important to maintain the results. After any laser treatments you have undergone, no matter how many or how few, it is very important to keep your skin protected and healthy to prolong the effects of your results. Especially after you have spent a significant amount of time and money to improve your skin, you need to protect your investment. Daily sunscreen use, for instance, is a very small price to pay to keep your skin looking younger and healthy.
I hope that this list will be helpful for those of you who have either been somewhat anxious and resistant to have a laser treatment, or still have questions about lasers and their effects. As always, if you have a specific question about your skin, please call us at (207) 873-2158 to ask or to schedule your next free and confidential consultation.