There is a variety of laser treatments that can be used to treat a number of different skin conditions. The Northwestern Facial Plastic Surgery Center owns and utilizes six different types of lasers, each with adjustable settings that are tailored specifically to address a particular problem.
Normal aging often results in some skin discoloration, fine lines, and wrinkles. A history of sun damage, acne, or other inflammatory skin condition may exacerbate these problems, adding scars and other contour irregularities to your face.
Laser skin resurfacing can be used to help your face appear healthier and younger. The process works by selectively removing problematic layers of skin, thereby stimulating ingrowth of new skin that is smoother and tighter. When you have your consultation with Dr. Thomas, he will go through your options with you and help you decide which treatment is right for you.
Before your treatment, you should let us know if you have a history of cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth, since laser treatments may trigger breakouts in these patients. If this is the case, we will prescribe you a medication to use around the time of your treatment to reduce this risk.
Generally, we ask that you stop all non-essential blood thinners about 1 week prior to and following treatment. If you smoke, you should stop for at least 2 weeks before and after your treatment, as smoking prevents proper wound healing and will decrease the success of your treatment. Risks of laser treatment include infection, burns, scarring, and changes in pigmentation or coloring of skin, and it is important to follow all pre- and post-procedure instructions to reduce the chance of experiencing any of these side effects. Dr. Thomas and his staff will review these instructions with you when you come in for your consultation.
The treatment is generally performed in our procedure room, and you will be able to go home afterwards. Depending on the areas being treated, treatment usually takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and it may be performed under local anesthesia or with light sedation. Once the treatment is finished, we apply ointment and bandages that will be left in place for 1 day. You will be able to remove the bandages 24 hours after your procedure, and you will begin regular wound care at that time. This will include cleaning the treated area several times per day and applying ointment regularly to prevent drying and scabbing of the skin.
It is normal to have some swelling after your procedure – using ice packs and sleeping with your head slightly elevated (i.e. use an extra pillow or sleep in a reclining chair) will help decrease swelling. You will likely experience some itching, stinging, or numbness for the first couple of days following the procedure. Your skin will also be very dry and may start to peel a few days after your treatment.
The initial healing process takes between 1 and 3 weeks, depending on the underlying skin condition and the laser treatment that is used. After the initial healing process is complete, you may wear makeup to minimize persistent redness that will slowly resolve over 2 to 3 months.
Your skin will likely be a little lighter following treatment, and it is particularly important to protect your skin from sun exposure while you are healing. You should limit your time in the sun, wear protective clothing, and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that blocks UV-A and UV-B rays. You should keep your skin moisturized while you are healing.
If you use skin care products that contain retinol, glycolic acid, and/or salicylic acid, Dr. Thomas will counsel you on when you can resume your normal skincare routine.
There are many viable options for treating facial scars, discoloration, and fine lines/wrinkles, and it is easy to become overwhelmed when trying to decide which type of treatment you should pursue. During your consultation, Dr. Thomas will listen to your particular concerns and advise you on which treatment(s) would work best for you. He and his staff are devoted to helping you decide on a treatment option and to being available before, during, and after your treatment to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.
He and his staff are devoted to helping you decide on a treatment option and to being available before, during, and after your treatment to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.