Your first step to a successful treatment outcome is a pretreatment consultation. A consultation will provide you with the information you need to make the treatment choices for your needs. It also provides your clinician with the information needed to determine the best course of laser treatment for your desired outcomes.
During your consultation, be prepared to provide information about your medical history and your goals for the procedure. This is also a good time to get answers to your treatment questions and to discuss treatment costs.
Before your treatment, your provider may measure the melanin in your skin to adjust laser power to your specific needs. This can be done by a visual exam using the Fitzpatrick Skin Type evaluation. Or, it can be done using a hand-held melanin reading device to guide your treatment plan. Assessing the condition of your skin is essential to avoid over-treatment or under-treatment-and helps ensure the best aesthetic outcomes.
Your provider will work with you to help ensure your comfort and safety throughout the procedure. You may be given a topical anesthetic to help manage your comfort. During treatment, your clinician will move a handpiece over your skin, which will pulse as it emits the laser light. A flashing light, an audible tone, and a mild sensation on the skin will tell you when the handpiece is being pulsed. This sensation produces little to no discomfort.
Post-treatment recovery varies depending on your type of laser treatment and your medical history. Your clinician will provide you with specific follow-up care instructions. Below are some general guidelines for what you can expect as you heal.
After your treatment, expect to be able to resume your normal daily activities. You will notice redness at the treatment site, which should resolve in a day or two. You can manage any discomfort that you have with wrapped ice packs or gel packs (do not apply ice directly to skin). Your doctor may also recommend an oral, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen) or analgesic (acetaminophen) to reduce discomfort. Use the medicine according to your doctor's recommendations.
You may bathe and shower as usual, but keep in mind that the treated area may be temperature sensitive. Until redness has resolved, avoid the following:
You may notice that the treated pigmented lesion looks raised and/or darker with a reddened perimeter. This is normal and the lesion will gradually turn darker over the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours. It may turn dark brown or even black. The lesion will progress to darkening and/or crusting and will start flaking off in an average of seven to twenty-one days. The lesion will usually heal in twenty-one to thirty days. It will continue to fade over the next six to eight weeks. Do not to pick, remove, or pull at any darkened lesions, as scarring may occur.
The vessels may undergo immediate graying or blanching, or they may exhibit a slight purple or red color change. The vessels will fully or partially fade in about ten to fourteen days. Schedule a follow-up appointment for evaluation. Repeat treatments may be performed every seven to fourteen days if skin has fully recovered. One to four treatments may be necessary seven to fourteen days apart. Do not pick, remove, or pull at any darkened lesions, as scarring may occur.
Immediately after skin resurfacing, you will notice oozing or weeping at the treatment site that will take between three and eight days to heal; however, most people take several weeks to heal before returning to work and social obligations.
The treatment site will be covered and dressed for several days to prevent infection. As your skin heals, you may notice crusting, scabbing, and swelling. You can minimize the crusting and scabbing by applying Vaseline or Aquaphor to the treatment site several times throughout the day. Your clinician will provide you with medication for pain control. Your skin may look red for up to three months following the procedure and will gradually fade over time. You might also experience peeling and itchy skin at the treatment site in the later stages of healing. You will need to schedule a follow-up appointment a few days after the procedure and several more follow-ups as indicated.